In Their Words: Waterloo Region Catholic School Board Candidates on Their Reasons for Running

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School trustee elections take place on Monday and significant changes will be made to the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

Of the nine directors currently on the board, only one is a candidate for re-election.

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo asked candidates from the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to list their top three reasons for running. Here are their answers in their own words. Responses are listed alphabetically by last name.

Cambridge – North Dumfries

Six candidates are running for Cambridge-North Dumfries. The three with the most votes will be elected.

The candidates are:

  • Winston Francois.
  • David Guerin
  • Jesse Keel.
  • Michael John Rattée.
  • Marisa Phillips.
  • Robert Sikora

Francois Winston did not respond to the CBC KW survey.

David Guerin:

Reason 1: I am thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to the community. I have been an active volunteer with several organizations and this seems like a natural next step for someone who wants to make a difference.

Reason 2: I am passionate about the power of education and the impact it has on our future generations. Nothing is more important than setting up today’s children for future success.

Reason 3: I believe in the Catholic education system. I graduated from it myself and it helped shape the person I am today. I was raised by two teachers in the Catholic system. My wife and I have two children who attended WCDSB schools and both graduated from St. Benedict’s Secondary School in Cambridge. I was happy to serve on the Parent Council of St. Benedict during their time there.

Jesse Bowling did not respond to the CBC KW survey.

Marisa Phillips did not respond to the CBC KW survey.

Michael John Rattée:

Reason 1: I want to ensure that parents are fully informed and can express their opinions regarding the direction of their school and the educational well-being of their children.

Reason 2: As a parent of a student with special needs in the Catholic school board, I plan to advocate for the needs of all learners, especially those who are neuro-diverse and physically disabled.

Reason 3: I will maintain traditional, God-centered Catholic education, fostering the spiritual, emotional, and ethical growth of our students as we educate the whole person.

Robert Sikora:

Reason 1: A desire to give students the opportunity to realize their potential, whether in STEM, arts, trades or otherwise.

Reason 2: To provide a safe and supportive learning environment that can accommodate all students.

Reason 3: Student education has suffered over the past two plus years and the whole community needs to help regain and restore the learning experience.

Kitchener Wilmot

There are eight candidates running in Kitchener-Wilmot. The four with the most votes will be elected.

The candidates are:

  • Wendy Ashby.
  • Simone Beaucage.
  • Kathy Doherty-Masters.
  • Dariusz Grabka.
  • Renee Kraft.
  • Julie Molenaar.
  • Tracey Weiler (incumbent).
  • Hadembes Yebetit.

Wendy Ashby:

Reason 1: I have two children attending the council school, their education is of vital importance to me I have served on parent councils and various committees I currently serve on the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee in as a representative of St. Mary’s Catholic High School Group of Schools.

Reason 2: I am very committed to the vital role that education plays in the lives of our children academically, mentally and emotionally and I feel that I can contribute strongly in all these areas.

Reason 3: As a mental health professional, I feel like my voice is the one that was missing at the table. Particularly in relation to reconciliation in education, LGBTQ2+ children and families, anti-racism work, and policy development around the mental health and well-being of our council’s diverse population. This includes not only our students and their families, but also our educators. The last four years have been difficult and strong defenders are needed to move on to the next phase. It is essential to support teachers and educators in the way they need us at such a crucial time in this province.

Simone Beaucage did not respond to the CBC KW survey.

Kathy Doherty-Masters:

Reason 1: I am passionate about supporting “wellness for all”. This was my deepest belief during my three-decade career as a professional educator with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

When I was an active and healthy living consultant for the council, my personal experience and research indicated that there is a strong link between “wellness” and “success” at all levels. Given my expertise, I believe I am in a unique position to support “Wellness for All” for WCDSB staff and students in the future.

Reason 2: I have deep, deep roots with the WCDSB and have embraced Catholic leadership roles many times. I have been a student, teacher, consultant, parent and volunteer on the board. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer recently as co-chair of the St. Mary’s High School Community Legacy Project, a successful multi-year initiative designed to improve active and healthy living facilities at the school. St. Mary’s Secondary. I believe my experience in Catholic leadership roles will serve me well as a WCDSB Trustee if elected.

Reason 3: Environmental stewardship is a top priority for me. After my teaching career ended, I was the first recipient of the WCDSB Pope Francis Award for Ecological Leadership, given my volunteer work with the board in this area. If elected as a WCDSB Trustee, I will continue to support all initiatives that promote increased awareness of our common urgent call to protect and nurture our planet.

Dariusz Grabka:

Reason 1: To be an excellent advocate for all students and families who have chosen Catholic education in Kitchener and Wilmot.

Reason 2: To help make Waterloo Region the best place to get a technology education in Canada; from supporting STEM and arts programs and funding, to ensuring our technology policy, security and privacy are top notch.

Reason 3: A commitment to transparency and accountability, including for budgets and policies.

Renee Kraft:

Reason 1: I follow the activities of the school board closely and believe that decisions do not always reflect the perspective and needs of Catholic ratepayers. The board must be held accountable.

Being active in the Catholic community has given me a good understanding of many of their needs. I would like to serve on the board to advocate for the needs of families with children in the school system as well as supporters of the Catholic school system in general.

Reason 2: I am running as a Catholic school trustee because I believe I have the skills to support a strong school system that upholds Catholic faith and values, now and in the future. If I am elected, I undertake to favor consultation and transparency.

Reason 3: I want to continue to support the interest in active and safe routes to school – walking, cycling. At WRDSB, school bus safety is everyone’s responsibility – obey the flashing amber and red school bus lights. Working with local municipalities and other community partners on trail development and road safety is an important part of getting kids to school safely.

Julie Molenaar:

Reason 1: I think the change is really needed. I believe children need help when it comes to mental illness to deal with suicidal thoughts.

Reason 2: I believe that the students of the Waterloo School Board deserve the best education and the best experience that we can offer them. We need to access more resources for children to learn. Stay in class for a year this year and extra help for children who have fallen begins due to the pandemic.

Reason 3: I’m here for everyone. I do not believe in racism and demonstrate a commitment to human rights, equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels. No intimidation of any kind is welcome. Treat others as you would like to be treated!

Tracey Weiller:

Reason 1: If re-elected, I will continue to work hard to strengthen the relationship with all parents, staff and community; focusing on the success of each student.

Reason 2: Promote and support our schools as leaders in a diverse and inclusive learning environment.

Reason 3: To ensure that the Board of Directors is focused and demonstrates leadership to promote and support the social/emotional/physical/mental health and well-being of all staff and students throughout the system .

Hadembes Yebetit did not respond to the CBC KW survey.

Waterloo-Wellesley-Woolwich

There are four candidates in Waterloo-Wellesley-Woolwich. The two who receive the most votes will be elected. The candidates are:

  • Linda Cuff.
  • Nike Dattani.
  • Sally Fuentes.
  • Conrad Stanley.

Linda cuff:

Reason 1: As we emerge from the pandemic, I want to ensure that our students, teachers, and schools are put first when recovering from what we have lost over the past two years.

Reason 2: I strongly believe in our Catholic education system and, after the challenges of the past few years, I want to ensure that our students and teachers have a safe learning environment where they can thrive.

Reason 3: As part of the future of our Catholic education system, we need to address truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities in Canada. As a Trustee, I look forward to supporting the efforts of our Board of Trustees to advance this vitally important work.

Nike Dattani did not respond to the CBC KW survey.

Sally Fuentes:

Reason 1: To help build a stronger community, where kindness and respect are present at all times based on the values ​​of the Catholic faith.

Reason 2: Prioritize student mental health and well-being.

Reason 3: Advocate for diversity and equity.

Conrad Stanley did not respond to the CBC KW survey.

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