Robert Martin, the acting superintendent of the Edmonton Catholic School Division, has been hired for the job permanently.
Martin has been an educator for more than three decades as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in the Edmonton, St. Paul and the Greater St. Albert Catholic school divisions.
“It’s definitely an awesome responsibility, and when I say awesome, I mean it’s a huge responsibility because it’s an outstanding school division,” Martin said shortly after ECSD made the announcement April 23. “It’s my role to ensure it remains outstanding and hopefully even becomes better for my being at the helm.”
Martin will begin his new role as superintendent on May. He takes the helm at an extraordinary time, when students are learning online instead of in the classroom, as a precaution against spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“The biggest challenge is to ensure that students continue to do well and to actually even improve. That’s a huge challenge given the current climate of COVID,” Martin said.
“Once this is all over, the kids are going to be coming back to school and it will take on a whole different flavour. There’s going to be some healing that will need to happen, a lot of looking at new and refined ways to ensure that teaching and learning is happening really well.”
Board chair Laura Thibert said Martin “has the best interests of the students and the division at heart in every decision that he makes. He has a deep commitment to doing what is right in the best interests of all the students that we serve, as well his commitment to serving the families of Edmonton Catholic Schools and all of our stakeholders.”
Martin replaces Joan Carr, who served ECSD for 45 years. She was appointed superintendent in 2006. Carr died of cancer Feb. 9. Martin and assistant superintendent Joe Naccarato have both served as acting superintendent since Carr announced her retirement nearly a year ago.
Martin noted ECSD is a leader in the province, and nationally, when it comes to distance learning.
“That’s a legacy that she left. She was efficient. She was very business-like, and we need to continue that as well, keeping kids at the forefront,” Martin said. “She ensured that students mattered. Students came first. That will continue … She was extremely innovative and I think we need to continue along that path.”
While building on Carr’s legacy, Martin will be able to make the role his own, Thibert said.
“There are many things that we’ve seen over the last little while that have come at us that we would never have expected,” she said. “We would have never thought that we would be in that position where all of our students are remote learning and not even attending our schools other than online.”
“It’s a matter of being able to strategically plan for whatever comes his way.”
Martin has worked for the St. Paul Education Regional Division, Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools and Edmonton Catholic Schools. He also spent four years on a secondment serving as Canadian principal at NATO’s International School in the Netherlands.
He has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree with specialties in educational leadership, administration and supervision. He is married and has two adult children.
Martin is a member of Holy Family Parish in St. Albert, and faith plays a key role in his life and career.
“I’m living my faith,” Martin said. “I think it’s extremely important to be in the community. We need to be active parishioners. We live our faith and it’s just a part of us. That’s got to play a huge part in everything that we do.”
The Edmonton Catholic School Division is the second largest in Alberta, with more than 4,200 employees and 44,000 students in 95 Catholic schools.