By Andrew Ehrkamp
News Editor

Three Edmonton Catholic educators are being honoured as among the best in Alberta.

Principals Bruno Binassi of Sir John Thompson and Rena Methuen of Ben Calf Robe-St. Clare, as well as teacher Beth Pecson of Monsignor Fee Otterson school, have received Excellence in Catholic Education Awards from the Council of Catholic Superintendents of Alberta.

“It’s a great accomplishment for the district,” said Laura Thibert, chair of the Edmonton Catholic school board. “They’re amazing educators and they’re focused on Catholic education and the kids in the classroom.”

The awards were presented May 4 at an Alberta school trustees retreat in Kananaskis. They are among 22 educators so honoured this year.

“It’s very humbling to receive this under the umbrella of service,” said Methuen, who has been a teacher and administrator for more than 30 years, and the principal of Ben Calf Robe- St. Clare School for about eight months.

“It really speaks to the hard work of the community that I’m a part of.”

Methuen was cited for her service to students with special needs, and for sharing that expertise locally and provincially.

Methuen said she jumped at the chance to become principal at Ben Calf Robe-St. Clare School, which focuses on Cree culture and language. The school offers classes in drumming, jigging, and dance, and each morning starts with a smudge, a welcoming ceremony, and “O Canada” sung in Cree.

 “An effective teacher is one that gains the respect of the students first of all, and one who can permeate faith in all subject areas of the curriculum,” said Pecson, who has been a teacher at Monsignor Fee Otterson School for the past six years.

Pecson is also honoured as a pianist, choir instructor and school chaplain who organizes creative liturgical celebrations and social justice projects. 

She is also enrolled in the master of religious education program at Newman Theological College, and will receive her degree this fall.

“I’ll be very blunt; I think a lot of other people are more deserving to be recognized,” said Binassi, who has been the principal of Sir John Thompson Junior High School for four years.

Binassi was recognized for his inspiring reflections during school celebrations. 

He is also helping to lead 48 students to the completion all of their sacraments of initiation. 

Many of them had not received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

“I see that as part of my role as an instructional leader and a religious leader as well,” said Binassi, noting he worked with St. Edmund’s Parish, which is affiliated with his school, to make that happen.

All three award recipients say a Catholic education offers a unique experience.

“It’s a matter of recognizing and celebrating what Catholic schools can offer,” Methuen said. “We can joyfully celebrate our faith every day. If there’s a child that’s disheartened, we can say a prayer. We can bring the face of Jesus into the division.”

To that end, Methuen said she’s personally inspired by Pope Francis.

“It’s wonderful to have a pope giving us a solid example of what it means to be a good Christian and a good Catholic.”

View a complete list of Excellence in Catholic Education Award Winners.