UPDATE: Rocchina Antunes, Principal of St. Jean de Brebeuf CHS, named one of Canada's Outstanding Principals

Rocchina AntunesThe York Catholic District School Board is extremely proud of Rocchina Antunes, Principal of St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School, who was recently named one of Canada's Outstanding Principals by the Learning Partnership. She will be official honoured at the annual Canada's Outstanding Principals Gala on February 23, 2016, at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto.

Every year, only 40 principals from all of Canada are selected for this prestigious honour, and this year Rocchina Antunes is the only principal from all of York Region chosen. As part of this honour, Rocchina will join the National Academy of Canada's Outstanding Principals, which offers principals ongoing networking, mentoring and professional development opportunities so they can constantly enhance their leadership skills.

"It is a real honour to be recognized by the Learning Partnership and by my school community," said Rocchina. "I am deeply humbled by the nomination. I am extremely thankful to my awesome Vice-Principals, Mrs. Bartolini, Mr.Chiutsi and Mrs. Cammalleri, the students, staff and community of St. Jean de Brebeuf, my treasured colleagues, mentor and my superintendent for collaborating on my nomination."

To be selected as one of Canada's Outstanding Principals, candidates are first nominated by parents, colleagues, and community members, and then chosen by a national selection committee for demonstrating innovation, having an entrepreneurial spirit and for employing creativity in finding solutions and opportunities in their schools.

Rocchina was chosen for her ongoing commitment to creating positive change and community building. At her school, she emphasizes the development of trusting relationships and focused improvement. She is driven to provide opportunities for all students to succeed, creating a school environment that is respectful and welcoming, and a curriculum that is culturally responsive.

Rocchina has been a principal at St. Jean de Brebeuf CHS since 2013 and has had a tremendous impact on the school and local community. She introduced changes in the core special education area, developing community partnerships to support Pathways to Student Success, and enhancing digital technology and literacy. Rocchina and her faculty leverage student data to target learning and work collaboratively on refining teaching and learning practices. She also promotes professional learning emphasizing the impact of collective expertise on student learning. By skillfully using social media, she ensure the school's mission, 'Educate the Mind and Nurture the Soul', is realized. Rocchina is very visible, accessible, responsive, and her staff refer to her as their fearless leader.

"Being a high school principal is the best job in the world," said Rocchina. "Every day is filled with adventure and excitement and being around teenagers is invigorating!  Their brilliance, energy, enthusiasm, creativity and resiliency are inspiring.

"I am privileged to work with an amazing group of administrators, teachers and staff members.  We all work together to support students and to build a positive school culture that emphasizes innovation, collaboration, creativity and educational excellence, in a loving and caring Catholic school environment."

Rocchina's Top Five Tips for New Principals:

  1. Believe in your students and their possibilities. It is our job to be welcoming, inclusive and non-judgemental.  Our purpose is to support and love all students, and to help them thrive and feel like an important and valuable member of our school family.  Remember to leave all the children that you meet, better than you met them.
  2. Be good to your teachers and staff.  Give them opportunities to try new things and to innovate.  Be open to their ideas.  Nurture their interests.  Genuinely care about them and their well-being.  Give them the tools and resources they need to be exemplary educators and to provide a cutting-edge education to the students.  Thank them for all that they do.
  3. Work as a collaborative team member and welcome and value input from your administration team.  Thank your vice-principals every day for everything they do for you, for the school and for the students and parents.
  4. Reach out to parents and welcome them as partners in their child's education. Keep the lines of communication open to them and keep parents informed of everything that goes on in the school. Develop community partnerships.
  5. Never stop learning and growing.  Attend professional development workshops. Read current educational literature. Liaise with other principals.  Have a social media presence. Think out of the box and remember that you work with real people and real students who have real dreams.  Nurture those dreams!