Excellence in Catholic Education - 2021 Award Recipients
Each year, Edmonton Catholic Schools names three teacher or administrator recipients for the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta’s (CCSSA) Excellence in Catholic Education Award. Recipients are chosen based on their significant contributions to creating a culture of excellence for staff and students in the wonderful journey of Catholic education.
Kathleen Nguyen currently serves Edmonton Catholic Schools as the Elementary Religious Education Consultant. This year she is celebrating 20 years of service to the Division and to Catholic education. She is passionate about nurturing the home-school-parish connection; a commitment that led to the establishment of the Standards for Preparing Children and Youth for the Sacraments with the collaboration of Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton. The Standards engage all partners in welcoming our children and youth to the Church. She also provided the impetus for ECSD’s sacramental celebration initiative. The Baptismal Kit from that initiative has been adapted by jurisdictions across the province to introduce families to the beauty of Catholic education. Kathleen’s commitment to excellence in Catholic education is evidenced by her participation in the Advisory Committee for the Growing in Faith, Growing in Christ Religious Education Program which is being implemented across Canada. She has been a champion for the development of a highly engaging, interactive, modern program that further connects the home, school, and parish through digital resources.
One of the greatest challenges this year has been found in meeting the needs of students and staff for religious education and faith formation in the virtual world. Kathleen has not only developed a rich resource site for staff, but she has also done tremendous work in creating meaningful virtual faith formation experiences for student retreats and for our divisional Faith Development Days. Kathleen recognizes the importance of partnerships in building capacity for religious educators; she currently serves as the Secretary for the Religious Education Network. She has also worked with the Faithful Companions of Jesus to honour their history and role in the establishment of Edmonton Catholic Schools and Catholic education in general in the province of Alberta.
Susanna Kaup has served the students and staff of Edmonton Catholic Schools in many capacities, ranging from both an elementary and junior high classroom teacher to her current role as Secondary Religious Education Consultant. She is well-known and respected for creating learning experiences that draw youth ever more deeply into the knowledge and practice of faith by establishing relevant and meaningful contexts for learning. In fact, Susanna has prepared lessons for students in preparation for ECSD’s Annual Father Michael “Catfish” Mireau Youth Faith Day for Grade 8 students. This event, which has historically brought together approximately 4000 Grade 8 students from the Metro Edmonton Area, provides an uplifting, inspiring faith experience that is intrinsically linked to the curriculum. This year, in the face of the pandemic, Susanna helped to design a virtual retreat experience that was equally engaging and meaningful to our youth. She was also integral in the development of our ECSD divisional Faith Development Day, again presented virtually. This event provided an interactive retreat experience that was engaging for all.
Susanna has risen to the challenge of remote learning and the restrictions of a pandemic world and is committed to providing excellent experiences for students through her virtual presence in their classrooms and excellent professional learning opportunities for staff. Whether she is leading a webinar or hosting a virtual coffee chat for teachers to discuss innovation and best practice, her uplifting presence is very much appreciated.
Susanna is a champion of elevating religious education, and to that end has diligently supported the creation of professional practices and learning activities that demonstrate high engagement and rigour; important measures in creating and maintaining the culture of embracing religious education as a core part of secondary education. She achieves this by highlighting the many ways that faith can engage in relevant dialogue with modern culture and our youth.
Sister Michelle Langlois, FCJ, currently serves Edmonton Catholic Schools at St. Thomas More Catholic Junior High, where she fills the role of Chaplain and science teacher extraordinaire. Sister Michelle integrates the staff and students in all the school’s celebrations, liturgies, and Masses by including both pre-celebration and whole class activities to always keep the community active participants in the faith life of the school. She wants everyone to be involved and participating to ensure understanding of the traditions within Catholicism. Sister Michelle plans and leads highly engaging retreats for the staff and students at the beginning of the year. As an example, this year the school began their staff retreat with a reflection on the life of Mary and about journeying with their students through the exciting and trying times of the year.
As a member of the Vocations Committee of Edmonton, Sister Michelle is deeply committed to sharing the richness of consecrated life with her school and the community at large. She has also invited guests from different religious orders to be involved and present their experiences of their vocation with both staff and students. Sister Michelle is also called upon to share her wisdom beyond her school community and does so gladly. In presenting to Red Deer Catholic's Faith Day about her religious journey and her calling to the Faithful Companions of Jesus, Sister Michelle outlined how we are invited to "Trust in God", especially during challenging times. She is also a regular contributor to Grandin Media.
Sister Michelle has created videos for the whole Division in correspondence with diverse topics for Faith Formation. These topics incorporated themes of the liturgical year, whereby students and staff could respond and reflect upon them. Her principal shares the following: “Sister Michelle is the one of the kindest and most loving souls, who treats everyone around her with respect and dignity. She always has time to reflect and engage with those around her, no matter what else is happening in our very busy site.”