Longtime TDSB educator is chief superintendent of schools in Calgary
December 6, 2018
For Christopher Usih, education has always been that huge lever for change.
Caring parents and a supportive community inspired his passion for learning as he was growing up in Nigeria.
“I was very fortunate because not everyone where I came from had that opportunity,” said Usih. “Also, public education was key because through that, gaps are closed when it comes to opportunity.”
Almost three decades after joining the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) as a math teacher, the associate director is leaving to become the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) chief superintendent of schools.
Usih, who assumes the new role on December 17, is looking forward to joining the board that he says is known as a leader in kindergarten to Grade 12 education across Canada.
“The opportunity to lead a school district was very appealing,” he said. “The Calgary Board of Education is the largest school board in Alberta and been given an opportunity to provide leadership in a board that’s really doing some exemplary work is very exciting. In am looking forward to building on the success.”
In Canada since 1979, Usih completed an engineering technology diploma program at the University College of Cape Breton (now Cape Breton University) and undergraduate and Master’s degrees in education at the University of Manitoba.
He started his teaching career in an indigenous community in northern Manitoba before joining the TDSB – Canada’s largest school board – in January 1991. After seven-and-a half years as a teacher & college professor, he served as a math & computer science department head at W.A Porter Collegiate Institute which was renamed the Scarborough Academy of Technological, Environmental & Computer Education) before joining L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute as vice-principal in September 1998.
Two years later, Usih was elevated to principal and assigned to Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute where he served for four years before going to Albert Campbell Collegiate Institute for 18 months. He was a central co-ordinating principal in charge of operations and superintendent of schools for 13 months each, superintendent of education for six years and executive assistant for three years before been appointed executive superintendent in August 2013.
In February 2015, he was promoted to associate director responsible for student achievement and employee services.
In his time with the TDSB, Usih provided support for student transitions, implemented strategies to promote high school completion and developed partnerships to support students in a variety of post-secondary pathways.
“What I am most proud of is the work that revolves around student success in the time I was in charge of that,” he said. “We worked intentionally with every secondary school and elementary schools to ensure that we are providing adequate programming and support for them to be successful. And, we just don’t want them to graduate from high school. We want them to pursue post-secondary studies. The real indicator is students actually finishing high school and going to post-secondary.
“For me, it’s about the work around student success, using our data to identify those that we are not serving well and using that information to improve outcomes for not only those students, but all students to really raise the bar for everybody. We don’t want student outcomes to be determined by their economic status or geography. Students living in challenging communities should have every opportunity as their other counterparts to be successful.”
Usih earned a reputation for integrity, efficiency and is highly regarded for his commitment to equity and raising academic standards.
“We are confident in Mr. Usih’s ability to lead the Calgary Board of Education into the future,” said Trina Hurdman who is the chair of the board of trustees