Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 5, 2007
ACSTA president an advocate for Catholic education
Spiritual development is key to being a whole person, he says
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Ted Paszek of Sherwood Park has been involved with Catholic Education for 40 years.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Ted Paszek is passionate about Catholic education, describing it as a jewel and a positive force in society.
"Catholic education to me is important because it not only develops us on the academic and the physical and the social but also on the spiritual," he says. "As a full human being you have to have all those elements in place, especially in this modern society with the cult of individualism and consumerism.
"More than ever we need to have a values-based education system."
And that's what Paszek believes the Catholic system offers. "Catholic schools provide a values-based education not only for us who have kids in the system but I think they are good for the society in general (because they) develop citizens who are values-based and who have some care and concern for their fellow human beings," he said in a recent interview.
Defending and promoting
As president of the Alberta Catholic Schools Trustees' Association, Paszek, 63, spends his time defending and promoting Catholic education.
"That's the mandate I've been given," said the Sherwood Park trustee. "Catholic education has been challenged from various fronts. There are forces out there that would suggest that we only need one public school system and here we have a fully funded Catholic system as they do in Saskatchewan and Ontario."
In addition to speaking up for Catholic education, Paszek writes about the virtues of the system in the ACSTA newsletter and website and has the whole association geared in the same direction.
"We speak with one voice in promoting the Catholic flavour of our education system," he said, noting the ACSTA also tries to build awareness among its own by providing faith development for trustees, administrators and teachers.
As ACSTA president, Paszek is also a director on the Canadian Catholic Schools Trustees' Association, which means he stays in touch with colleagues across the country.
"The faith that surrounds our schooling system is strong," Paszek editorialized recently in The Catholic Dimension, an ACSTA publication. "It is legally strong and it is personally strong, right from the leaders of communities down to our students.
"This faith touches everyone in our schools and places their thoughts and actions within a historical framework steeped in centuries of faith and Catholic tradition.
"It is because of this that when I am asked what makes Catholic schools different, I am able to say that without a doubt, our Catholic schools are unique because our Catholic faith is steeped in them."
Paszek's love for the Catholic school system is rooted in his upbringing and in the fact he was educated in Catholic schools and then served in the Catholic system for more than three decades.
Born the third of four children in 1944 to devout Polish immigrants, Paszek was raised on a farm near St. Paul and received his schooling in Edmonton, where his family moved when he was 12.
He attended St. Basil's Elementary School and Archbishop O'Leary High School. Upon graduation, he went to the University of Alberta to get his education degree and subsequently worked for 37 years with Edmonton Catholic Schools.
He began his teaching career in 1967 at St. Joseph's High School and later taught at Louis St. Laurent, Archbishop MacDonald and Archbishop O'Leary. From 1990 to 1996, Paszek worked in human resources at the central administration office before going back to school - this time as principal of St. Patrick's Elementary.
Trustee for 21 years
He retired three years ago while he was principal of St. Vladimir School.
"So I've been involved in Catholic education all my life and that's probably one of the reasons that I have such an interest in it," he muses. At the same time, Paszek has also been a trustee with the Sherwood Park-based Elk Island Catholic board for 21 years.
Paszek and his wife Jan have four adult children, all of whom attended Catholic schools in Sherwood Park. The Paszeks live on an acreage east of Sherwood Park.
In his retirement Paszek also serves as a sessional lecturer in law and ethics in teaching at the University of Alberta and at the same time he is completing his doctorate in education.
"(In my thesis) I'm looking at democratic citizenship, which is related to my interest in what it is to be a good human being," he explained. "So I am investigating the issue of how well our schools develop democratic citizens.
"Part of the value system that we have in Catholic schools, of course, is the common good - to care for our fellow human being. My belief is that to be a good democratic citizen you have to care for others."