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Superb News! How many Cards, Knights and Purple Raiders had Coach Wasyluk???

After 31 years of teaching Mark Wasyluk was planning on a well-deserved retirement, but the opportunity to build on the momentum established in the board’s sports academies while continuing to work with kids was too hard to resist.

Wasyluk was recently named as the new Coordinator of Academies, assuming many of the duties that were handled by the recently retired Kevin Hamlin.

“It always comes back to the kids,” said Wasyluk, who coached either volleyball, soccer, or both every year of his teaching career. “I still love the kids – seeing them smile, enjoying coming to school, being part of a community and watching them grow. They keep you young. How can you not love it?”

Wasyluk said he sees his new role as a liaison between the academy’s staff, skills experts, principals and administration, making sure that the various programs continue to build upon their overwhelming success since the first one was launched four years ago.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” he said, noting that since he won’t be working the full school year, he’ll still get to enjoy some time off with his family. “I get to do something I love and I can do it on my time and get the satisfaction of seeing some of these things come to fruition.”

Based on his wealth of experience, Wasyluk – who spent the last four years teaching in the sports academies with F.J. Brennan Catholic High School – was the perfect person to fill the void left by Hamlin, according to Dan Fister, Executive Superintendent of Innovation and Experiential Learning.

“Mark will ensure that our tradition of engaging students in an academic strategy through their common love of sport will continue,” Fister said. “He has an innate ability to build relationships and trust with all students, but especially with our most vulnerable learners. His experience as an academies instructor helped to shape the existing sports academy programs at Central Park Athletics. He’s been an integral part of implementing our student success program, and over three decades, he’s counseled and mentored countless students who would be considered to be at risk. I can’t think of a better person to take over this role.”

The WECDSB launched its first academy, a Hockey Canada skills program, with about 90 students in 2014. Since then, the programs have exploded in popularity and there are now more than 600 students at multiple schools in such sports academies as basketball, soccer, gymnastics, baseball, and dance.

The academies have been wildly successful because they’re proven to help students become more successfully engaged in their learning. And the fact that students don’t need to be advanced athletes to participate, but only need to have a passion for the sport, is what Wasyluk loves most about the academy model.

“There’s nothing elitist about it,” he said. “It’s about engagement and teaching to the whole person, on an academic level, athletically, socially, to their sense of community, and on a spiritual level.”