Longtime educator Rita Russo has been appointed the new director of education and secretary to the board for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.
The school board made the announcement on Tuesday, noting Russo will begin her now role on Jan. 25, 2021. She is currently serving as serving as superintendent, leadership development for the York Region District School Board (YRDSB).
Russo will replace Jennifer Leclerc, who was appointed to the role in 2017 and in June of this year announced her intentions to retire in January 2021.
“I am incredibly honoured and humbled by the opportunity to serve as Director of Education for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board,” stated Russo. “The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board has a rich history as a provincial leader in many facets of public education in Ontario, and I consider it a privilege to be entrusted by the board with the position of director.”
Diane Lloyd, school board chairperson, says the board reviewed a number of “excellent and highly qualified candidates” as part of our recruitment process.
“And we feel incredibly fortunate that Rita is joining our board as director of education,” stated Lloyd. “She brings with her a wealth of professional leadership skills to her new role. An innovative educator, Rita has extensive experience in developing and supporting equitable strategies that achieve positive learning outcomes for students — the main priority for our board.”
Russo has more than 20 years of experience in education and has held a number of administrative and leadership positions with the YRDSB and Toronto District School Board. She has previously served as superintendent, central schools with the YRDSB.
Most recently she has been instrumental in setting the direction and vision for the board’s leadership development program, including launching a new Indigenous and Racialized Leaders Mentorship Program.
“Rita is widely regarded as a highly skilled and creative professional,” said Lloyd.
“Her authentic, collaborative and people-first leadership has been central to her career in education. We expect these leadership and interpersonal skills will characterize her success as our new director of education.”
Russo is also a former elementary teacher and has extensive experience in a variety of school settings, the board said. She holds a Masters of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, and many ongoing learning certifications, including studies at the Rotman School of Business and Harvard University.
She is also a former instructor with OISE and a regional director for the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association (OPSOA).
“I am most excited to meet the KPR students and to learn about their unique strengths and interests,” said Russo. “Together with the board of trustees, staff, families and community partners, I look forward to leading a continued focus on achieving excellence in learning, life and community for all.”