Meet a Catholic School Leader

November 3, 2017

Nicholas Ford
Principal, Our Lady of Fatima School

At Our Lady of Fatima, I often speak of the image of the inukshuk, a rock sculpture built by the Inuit people in northern Canada.These massive monuments are erected with the help of the entire village and stand upon the tundra as evidence for future travelers that a people has been here before.

Reflecting on my work as a Catholic educator, I see my vocation as one of helping to erect little inukshuks on the hearts of each student entrusted to our care. It is the work of our entire village. Core to this notion is the understanding of where this special symbol lives. It is not on the intellect nor the athleticism that our students embody. They carry it on their hearts.

I love working in schools because of the academic pursuit of our students. Every day, our students challenge each other to think critically and creatively about the world they are called to lead. And yet, when they embark on new paths, this is not where our graduates stand out from their peers. 

I thrive on working alongside colleagues who are seeking best practices in order to cultivate engaging classrooms that inspire our learners to work collaboratively and to deepen their knowledge. And yet again, this is not what differentiates our educators from those working in other schools.

We are living a ministry. We serve the Church and help nurture an understanding of faith in each child. We nourish our community and move beyond respect and tolerance. Instead, we seek to emulate Christ as we foster a culture that promotes love and acceptance. Jesus never said, “Respect your brother as I respected you.” Nor did he suggest that we merely tolerate our enemy. This is where I see our difference in the world. Our graduates leave our halls understanding that respect is derived from love, that acceptance moves beyond simply tolerating another’s views and instead seeks to understand them.

This is the work to which I am called— to lead a community who endeavors to love and to build family in the pursuit of distinguished academic excellence, who engages our faith and strives to promote justice, who seeks to be good stewards of our resources and our environment, and who commits to doing all of this while embodying God’s joy for His eternal act of creation.

Each of these is a part of the inukshuk. Every teacher, every parent, every child—we are partners in the building of these structures on the hearts we graduate. When our alumni are out in the world, living with compassion, advocating for the poor and the vulnerable, making it a better place for all who live in it, it is at those moments when they stand tall as evidence for those they encounter that we were here.