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Focus on Faith 

 

 Background

 

In the fall of 2007, the Halton Catholic District School Board launched the system Focus on Faith initiative in support of the call to build strong Catholic Learning communities.

The Focus on Faith initiative provides a contextual framework for addressing the Ministry of Education initiative of Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario Schools, K-12, for ensuring all programs within the Board explicitly espouse a Catholic philosophy of Education.
 

In August 2008, The Education Commission of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishop's released a document entitled, "Character Development and the Virtuous Life: A Position Paper", written by Bishop Paul Andre Desrocher. Bishop Desrocher writes: "The Character Development Initiative presents us with an opportunity: to reflect on an important aspect of the Catholic school educational project, namely to foster the full flowering of our students as mature, believing subjects and actors in the world. It invites us to identify and better articulate what ii is we have always been trying to do. It gives us a framework in which to better focus our energies and evaluate our ability to attain our goals. The Character Development Initiative is thus a gift to our Catholic school systems. On one hand, we must seek to integrate this initiative in a way that is faithful to our own tradition and identity. The use of virtues - language is a first step in the process. It helps us re-acquire a valuable concept in our tradition, compels us to recognize God's role in the character development of our students, and helps us focus on specific habits that foster and protect the freedom to which we are all called."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a virtue as "an habitual and firm disposition to do good". It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself... 'the goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.' (St. Gregory of Nyssa).
 
The theological and cardinal virtues of our Catholic faith are embedded in the Unifying Catholic Themes of Focus on Faith: Human Dignity, Stewardship of Creation, Promotion of Peace, Community and the Common Good, Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Human Rights and Responsibilities, Solidarity and Dignity of Work. These Catholic Social Teachings are our virtues in action. The Halton Catholic District School Board's Focus on Faith Foundation offers our staff and students a framework that allows our faith to permeate all of the content that teachers present, exceeding a typical Virtues Education Program which is sometimes viewed as a disconnect or add-on.
 
We have been pleased to share the Focus on Faith initiative with many of our Catholic Education partners from across the province. Staff have made presentations for:
 
  • Catholic Curriculum Corporation
  • Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association Conference - April 2008
  • When Faith Meets Pedagogy Conference 2008
  • Charles Sturt University Teacher Education Program
  • National Catholic Education Association Conference - March 2008
  • OECTA/OCSTA Religious Education Courses for Teachers (ongoing)

Such requests for presentations within the Catholic educational community are evidence that our Board continues to be widely recognized for our leadership in this area.

 

 

 Priority Focus

 

Use of the Focus on Faith theme to ensure an infusion of faith in every aspect of our content and processes including staff development, learning environment, curriculum development and implementation, instructional and assessment approaches, special education programs, safe, inclusive and equitable school practices. See Appendix “B”.

Board / School Improvement Plans articulate a Focus on Faith Foundation through which all content and processes are formed and articulated in our theology:

  • Board, school, classroom activities reflect and promote Focus on Faith themes
  • Translation of our Catholic Social Teachings to create safe, inclusive, and culturally diverse learning communities

Continued creation of Faith-Based curriculum supports:

  • Development of Catholic unit and lesson plans based on Catholic Curriculum maps
  • Create a Framework for Focus on Faith planning in Special Education self-contained classrooms
  • Develop Assessment of Learning opportunities that address Focus on Faith themes and Essential Questions, and Religion and Family Life curriculum.

Provide Faith Development Opportunities for Staff:

  • Courage to Serve /Teach/Lead retreats for staff. Leadership Faith Development Program for Administrators
  • Catholic Leadership Framework – Principals, Vice Principals and Supervisory Officers
  • Training and support for Chaplaincy Leaders, Pastoral Animators
  • Retreats for Trustees, Senior Staff, School communities
  • New Teacher Induction Program – Faith Development
  • Support for Social Justice Projects (charity and justice)
  • Support and guidance for Prayer (community, personal prayer)

Provide Faith Formation Opportunities For Students:

  • Retreats
  • Youth Rally
  • Culture of Life Group
  • Vocations Month
  • Walk with Christ Pilgrimage
  • Helping Hands for Haiti Project
  • D.R.E.A.M.S. Project

Strengthen the Home, School, Parish Partnership

  • Home, School, Parish Partnership Day
  • Catholic Parent Conference
  • Diocesan Mass of Catholic Education
  • Issue regular Focus on Faith Updates to provide our Faith community with information about the Focus on Faith strategies and initiatives


A New Board Theological Theme Identified

The Halton Catholic District School Board is pleased to announce the launch of our new theological theme,
Who Do You Say That I Am? (Mark 8:29).

The purpose of a theological theme is to provide a focus for students and staff that will guide what they learn through the curriculum, how they worship in community, and how they give witness to their faith.

The new theological theme, Who Do You Say That I Am?, will be implemented throughout our Board’s curriculum, and in our liturgical celebrations over the next three years  (2013-2014; 2014-2015; 2015-2016).



An Image to Support Our Focus on Faith Theological Theme was created

The artwork showcased below, created by students and staff in Halton Catholic schools, is the culmination of many months of creative collaboration, coordinated by John Driscoll, Grade 4 teacher at Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School in Oakville. Mr. Driscoll initiated the creation of the design with his students, asking them to interpret, through their own creative expression, the meaning behind the words, ‘Who do you say that I am’. This activity was also undertaken by students from St. Luke Catholic Elementary School, St. Mark Catholic Elementary School, and St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School. The students worked together to come up with a ‘puzzle piece’ design, which would serve as the basis of the image. Each puzzle piece throughout the image features student artwork. Several puzzle pieces have been left blank throughout the image, offering an opportunity for further interpretation, and further exploration of the theme.








 

 

 





A Board Prayer to Support Our Theological Theme

The following prayer was written by staff to support of the new theological theme, Who Do You Say That I Am?:



Jesus, Friend and Teacher,

You ask us,

“Who do you say that I am?”

Thank you for inviting us

To know you more each day. 

Quiet our minds

To hear your Word;

Open our hearts

To love you more;

For the more we know you,

The more brightly we reflect you.

You meet us in our every need,

Your love, new each day!

Guide us as we build your kingdom,

And find our home in you;

For you are the Lord,

The face of God,

And the breath of the Holy Spirit.

 

Amen.

 

Unifying Catholic Themes for Each Grade, Kindergarten to Grade 12 were adopted

The Halton Catholic District School Board is rooted in, and envisions education based on the true model of moral character, Jesus Christ. By inculcating gospel values into all of our pursuits, we work for the highest ideal of human character.

  • Christ-centered character formation in our schools is guided and supported by the Unifying Catholic Themes identified for each grade, Kindergarten to Grade 12.
  • These Themes are drawn from the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, and find their source in the Kindergarten to Grade 8 Religious Education and Family Life Education programs, and in the Grades 9 to 12 Revised Ontario Catholic Secondary Curriculum Policy Document for Religious Education.
  • Catholic Curriculum Core Maps have been developed to support the Catholic Theme for each grade level and to assist the teachers in integrating our faith in every subject taught.

A Multi-Faceted Approach to Support Our Focus on Faith was adopted:

The Halton Catholic District School Board's School Improvement Framework is used to provide a systematic, multi-faceted approach to respond as a Catholic system to Ministry and Board initiatives.

To support ongoing implementation, resources were prepared to support Elementary Pastoral Animators, Secondary Chaplaincy Leaders and Principals in leading their communities.

Building on Success: Focus on Faith 2009-2011

Over the last two years, much time, energy and resources have ensured that curriculum is infused with gospel values, and presents a Catholic world view. The Catholic Social Justice themes and the essential questions that have been developed to support the themes through the curriculum maps, bring experiences of our faith in every subject taught in our schools.

The next phase of the Focus on Faith foundation will ensure that our Catholic world view permeates not only our content, but also our processes. The infusion and integration of Gospel values into the language, structures, and processes we create to develop school improvement plans, curriculum development, staff development, special education programs and instructional practices is essential in creating distinctive Catholic learning communities.
The intention is that our Focus on Faith initiatives provide an element of system coordination and support to many school-based activities, ensuring a greater level of consistency and support, while also enhancing the profile and importance of Faith-based initiatives within our schools.

Family Advent Activities 2014.pdfFamily Advent Activities 2014.pdf 

HCDSB