Local Catholic educator mourned by colleagues
WATERLOO REGION — Michael Schmitt, a revered and respected Catholic educator in Waterloo Region, died of cancer on Thursday.
Schmitt spent 37 years in Catholic education, as a teacher, principal, superintendent and education director. Schmitt was 65.
He started his teaching career in Belleville and then moved to Waterloo Region.
He was the founding principal of Resurrection Catholic Secondary School in 1988. After a stint as superintendent, he worked for the education ministry and then education director in Kingston before retiring in 2011.
“Michael was a tremendous leader for this board but an even more special human being,” wrote Loretta Notten, education director for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, in a letter to staff on Friday.
Notten described Schmitt as someone whose reputation was beyond reproach.
“He was everything we would want a Catholic leader to be and he will be sincerely missed by all who knew him,” she said.
While Roger Lawlor was director of education for the school board, Schmitt became a superintendent.
“He was a visionary, a champion for special needs students,” Lawlor said.
“He was passionate about students and their welfare and worked diligently to ensure the case was made to support learners first,” he said.
School board trustee Wendy Price said she first met Schmitt when she started as a teacher.
She was implementing a special education program at Monsignor Doyle school in Cambridge, the same program for gifted students that Schmitt had put in at St Jerome’s High School.
“Michael worked hard for the marginalized as well as for all students,” she said.
“He believed in creating safe spaces and programs to meet the needs of all learners,” Price said.
Price was also on the board when Schmitt “brought a sense of calm and direction” by coming out of retirement to serve as its interim director.
Schmitt also sat on the board of the Supportive Housing of Waterloo and other organizations including Hospice Waterloo Region, Out of the Cold and United Way Waterloo Region.
Schmitt is survived by his wife Deborah and daughter Kateland.
Visitation will be held Wednesday at Henry Walser Funeral Home in Kitchener from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Louis Catholic Church Waterloo on Thursday at 11 a.m.