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Election rhetoric doesn't faze new Sudbury Catholic director

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | May 22, 2014 - 4:21 PM |
Joanne Bénard has been chosen as the Sudbury Catholic District School Board's new director of education, replacing Catherine McCullough. Supplied photo.

Joanne Bénard has been chosen as the Sudbury Catholic District School Board's new director of education, replacing Catherine McCullough. Supplied photo.

Joanne Bénard set to start new job July 1

The new director of education with the Sudbury Catholic District School Board seems unfazed by a few issues that might cause the board some challenges over the next few years.

That includes the fact the future of education funding is currently in flux, thanks to the provincial election.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak is promising to increase class sizes and change staffing levels in full-day kindergarten classes in his bid to cut down the province's deficit.

“I'm sure the election will bring some changes,” said Joanne Bénard, who starts her job with Sudbury Catholic July 1. “It always does. Whatever happens, we'll go with it.”


Sudbury Catholic is also currently attempting to bring its own accumulated deficit — $2 million as of the end of the last financial year — under control. It expects to be able to do this by August 2015.

“I know they have a really solid plan in place,” she said. “My job is to see it through.”

Bénard is currently the superintendent of education with the Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board, a position she'd held for 13 years.

She's been in education for 25 years, and holds a master's degreen in education from Nipissing University.

Bénard replaces Catherine McCullough, who recently retired after being with the board for seven years.

Given she only recently found out she's been named the Sudbury Catholic District School Board's new director of education, Bénard said she's not yet sure what changes — if any — she'd like to make at the board.

“I really just want to take a little bit of time to get to know everyone and settle in,” she said.

However, she said she does have a number of areas of strength she hopes to bring to her role, including promoting safe schools, French-language education and leadership development.

“My experiences have prepared me for this position,” she said. “I'm ready, it feels right. Sudbury Catholic feels good for me. It feels like the right place to be.”

She said she's thrilled with the welcome she's received at Sudbury Catholic.

“I was greeted with hugs and welcoming comments,” Bénard said. “Since the news broke on the weekend, I have received I don't even know how many emails from across the province, wishing me well. It's been really nice.”

She said she plans to move to Sudbury in the near future, although her husband and daughter will remain at the family's North Bay home during the next school year, as her daughter wants to complete high school in the city.
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer

@heidi_ulrichsen

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