Cedric Ennis: Well grounded with a welcoming approach to getting the job done

By Pepper Parr

September 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Cedric Ennis started his new job as the Director of Education of the Halton District School Board on August 1st.  There was a lot of work to be done and Ennis was confident that the staff he had was more than up to the job.

His job was to get to know them better and to get to know as much as he could about the Halton Region with its 2,934 elementary teachers, 1,373 secondary teachers and 2,500 non-teaching and support staff.  Add to that the more than 200 principals and vice-principals that are on the front line.

Cedric Ennis: From the largest school board in the country to the Director of Education at one of the highest ranking school boards in the province.

Ennis came to Halton Region from the Toronto District School Board.  His first career choice was not teaching – he studied business at Ryerson and spent more than a decade in the financial sector including a stint as an Assistant Manager with Bank of Nova Scotia.

It was when he found himself in front of students while volunteering in a school that he found his true calling.  “The missing link in my life was waiting for me in those classrooms” explained Ennis.

He returned to the classroom – this time as a student at York University where he earned a degree and was ready for a classroom filled with students.

Ennis takes a welcoming approach to what he does. “I made everyone of my students feel welcome; that I wanted them in my classroom and that they knew I was there to help them.

“I said good morning to every student and good day when they left the classroom.  They knew I was happy to see them.”

Cedric Ennis is a Jamaican.  He was born on the northern part of the Island – has four brothers and a sister.

His cultural base is West Indian.  That he was Black became evident when he came to Canada. ” I knew I was different; that awareness is something you learn to live with and adapt to as best you can.

“Yes it has an impact on you but I was fortunate to come out of it with an understanding that I was different but so were they”

“The big lesson for me was that  what matters is that there be a sense of equity – that we are all born equal.

“That has been the driving force that guided me as a teacher and what I took with me when I moved into management with the Toronto District School Board.

“It is what guides me as I get the feel of the people of Halton.”

He is married with four daughters; all study at the undergraduate level.  He and his wife Beverly; 29 years as a couple, face the challenges that every couple experience.

Heading up an organization that has more employees than the Ford motor plant in Oakville is not something you run into.

What you see is what you get – at least at this point: a straight shooter with a well grounded philosophy on what the classroom is all about..

The approach Ennis takes is to know your people at the granular level – that takes time but if you are open and transparent and make it clear that you are there to listen you can lead and you will succeed.

The challenge for Ennis is just that much bigger as he, along with the rest of the province deal with having to operate while the 4th wave of the pandemic is dealt with; the predictions that by October the 4th wave will be worse then the third wave don’t make it easy.

Ennis leaves you with the impression that you take it all in stride.

During his Director’s Report at his first Board of Trustees meeting earlier this week we got a sense as to how he works with his people.

He delegates and follows through.

During the meeting we learned that the Halton District school Board is going to report a deficit for the third year in a row.

We don’t know yet what kind of a spender Ennis will be nor do we know what his big picture is.  Right now he is working with a Multi Year Plan the trustees approved last year.

There are some big issues and still some emotional baggage from the closing of the two high schools.

We learned that the expansion of Nelson High School needed to handle the students from Bateman that now attend Nelson is not complete.  The library is on the second floor and the second floor and the second elevator is not in place yet.

Cedric Ennis will-work his way through the problems; working with his team adapting to the pandemic problems.  We will need a year to get a sense as to just how well he is working with the trustees.

Right now they are as proud as punch with the choice they made.

 

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