New director has longtime ties to Catholic board

Nicholas Donaldson

The Northwest District Catholic School Board formally approved Brendan Hyatt as its new director of education at its regular monthly meeting Saturday–a fitting decision considering his longtime history with the board.
Hyatt, the current superintendent of education for the board, officially begins his new role on Sept. 1.
He replaces current Director of Education Rick Boisvert, who has decided to retire.
Hyatt told the Times that he is a former student of the system–having graduated from Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton, where he was elected top student.
“Maybe that was a predictor of things to come,” he laughed.
Hyatt’s teaching career began in Toronto, where he taught for 10 years in the Legacy-Scarborough Board, which later became the Toronto District School Board.
“Then there was an opportunity to come home,” he explained.
“They were advertising for principals at the board and I applied, and was fortunate to be hired.”
In 2001, Hyatt started as principal at St. Francis here. He worked there for four years before being transferred to Our Lady of the Way–a move he says was like “going home.”
“I knew all the students because I went to school with all the parents of those kids,” he recalled.
Hyatt also noted the job was special because it was where his dad, Mark Hyatt, spent most of his career as principal.
He spent five years there, then two years at St. Michael’s in Fort Frances, before he was promoted to the board’s Student Success Lead, a position he held while also working as principal of Our Lady of the Way again for a year.
“Then after that, I went into the board office full-time and three years ago I was promoted to superintendent, with responsibilities throughout the board,” Hyatt noted.
“Now I have been promoted as of Sept. 1 to director.”
For now, Hyatt’s plans as director will consist of continuing on the path set out by the board and helping anyway he can.
“There is one very big project that is on the go and that I have a very big hand in, and that is the consolidation of St. Francis and St. Michael’s Schools,” he said.
“I certainly want to see that come to fruition,” he stressed.
“To be working with the board, and ensuring that we have stakeholder input along the way, so that we get the school that will suit the needs of a 21st-century learner.”
As well, Hyatt will be continuing to carry on with the goals of the board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan and the annual Board Improvement Plan, and support both of those.
“The director is employed by the trustees, so I work with the trustees to realize their mission, vision, and values,” he explained.
As director, Hyatt will oversee the day-to-day operations of the board, hire superintendents and other senior staff, and make sure the board meets the requirements of the Education Act.
“The director has to have a vision and understand that there is a big picture in education,” Hyatt remarked.
“We have to support what comes from the Ministry of Education and we have to work with all of the stakeholders to support the vision for education in Ontario,” he added.
Hyatt’s philosophy on education always has been that all students can learn when they are given the support, time, and the resources they need.
“I think it is important, as a board, to recognize that those things are there,” he said.
For Hyatt, it’s important to remember the board is there for the students and that they are the reason his job exists.
“All of the decisions that I make, and all of the decisions that we make as senior staff, need to be affected by how they impact students, and it has to be a positive impact for the students,” he noted.
Hyatt also said he understands the unique nature of a Catholic education, both as a student and a staff member.
“In a Catholic school board, it is our Gospel values,” he explained.
“With excellence in Catholic education, the ‘Catholic’ part is really important.
“When you walk into a Catholic school, you know you are in a Catholic school,” Hyatt noted.
“You see the signs of our faith, you hear prayer, you see our Gospel values infused throughout the curriculum and all subject areas.”
Hyatt admitted he still has a lot to learn about the position, but said he’s excited to be on the journey as director of education.
“Catholic education in the Northwest Catholic District School Board has a history of excellence,” he said.
“I’m a product of it, my own children are in this system, and I am going to work tirelessly for all of the stakeholders of Catholic education in the northwest to ensure that this system remains a strong and viable option,” he vowed.