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McCullough says goodbye to Sudbury Catholic board

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Apr 16, 2014 - 11:30 AM |
 St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School student Elisa Bacik presents outgoing Sudbury Catholic District School Board director of education Catherine McCullough with a present on behalf of her school. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School student Elisa Bacik presents outgoing Sudbury Catholic District School Board director of education Catherine McCullough with a present on behalf of her school. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Leaving April 17, although still technically an employee until July

Catherine McCullough couldn't stop the tears from flowing April 15 during the last school board meeting she'll attend as Sudbury Catholic District School Board's director of education.

In a presentation before the board got down to business, high school students sang two songs for her, and then students from each of the board's four high schools gave her small gifts from their schools.

“I think today, this is about my sixth ugly cry,” McCullough said, speaking to Northern Life after the meeting.

Although McCullough, who has been leading the board for seven years, will technically still be a Sudbury Catholic employee until July 7, her last day on the job is April 17.

That's because she's using up all of the vacation days she's accrued over the years before she leaves the board.

The board is throwing the administrator a retirement party at a local hotel April 16, to which McCullough's family members, senior board staff and trustees are invited.

For the past seven years, McCullough has been living in Sudbury during the work week, and commuting to Orillia, where her husband, Michael, lives, on weekends.

She said they're planning on travelling together in Europe for two months starting early next month. When she gets back, McCullough said she plans on doing some leadership consulting work, and wouldn't rule out another full-time job.

Speaking at the board meeting, she thanked Sudbury Catholic's trustees and senior administration for their co-operation.

McCullough said she's proud of what they've been able to accomplish together, including building new schools and closing others.

She's also had to face some challenging situations, including recently whittling down a multimillion-dollar deficit.

“I think what's more important, and what I think a sign of true leadership, is when a team works together to come through hard times,” McCullough said.

Sudbury Catholic board chair Jody Cameron said he has mixed emotions about McCullough's departure, as he's happy she'll be reunited with her husband, but sad the board is “losing someone of Catherine's calibre.”

After board staff were unsuccessful in recruiting a new director of education when McCullough announced her departure last fall, the board decided earlier this winter to spend about $20,000 to hire a head-hunting firm.

“They said they've had some success,” Cameron said. “We're looking at doing shortlisting in May, interviews at the end of May and we hope to have someone in place, probably at the latest by mid-June.”

This isn't the first senior administrator the board has had to replace in recent months.

Last month, Cheryl Ann Corallo joined Sudbury Catholic as superintendent of business and finance after the person who previously held the position, Dennis Bazinet, departed late last year.

In this case, the board didn't have to hire head-hunters, as a lot of qualified candidates applied for the position, Cameron said.

The fact that Sudbury Catholic will soon be led by two new employees is challenging, as they'll both have big learning curves, he said.

But he said he's confident in Corallo's abilities, and is sure a great candidate will also be hired as director of education.

Sudbury Catholic will appoint one of its senior administrators to be the acting director of education until someone is hired, Cameron said.

However, McCullough is still technically the director of education until July 7, and has said she'll step back into the role if there's an emergency, he said.
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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