Phelps Group and the Limestone District School Board are delighted to announce the appointment of Debra Rantz as the new director of education starting Aug. 4.

“It feels like coming home,” Rantz said. “For me, it’s not about the title of director of education, but it’s about the fit. There were a number of other positions open in the province, but this one really called to me.”

Rantz said the phrasing of the job advertisement and her previous family connection with Kingston were other major draws.

“I’m looking forward to the entire experience,” Rantz said. “I really feel like my personal and professional lives are in synergy, so for me it’s not about a job, this is about building a life in the Kingston area.”

Through her 22 years in public education, Rantz has held a variety of leadership roles: classroom teacher, department head, vice-principal, principal and assistant superintendent with the Renfrew County District School Board.

In 2009, she became a superintendent of education until 2013 when she took on the role of chief assessment officer for the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).

Rantz brings with her experience as a school administrator and department head when she was chosen as one of five Canadians to be part of an international team of educators to establish and lead a new kindergarten to Grade 13 school in Brunei Darussalam. She was also among the first recipients of the Dr. Bette Stephenson Award of Excellence and has served as a director with the Ontario Public Supervisory Officer Association Eastern Region.

Rantz will replace Brenda Hunter, who announced her retirement in December 2014.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Ms. Rantz to the Limestone District School Board,” board chair David Jackson said. “Over her more than two decades of educational leadership, Ms. Rantz has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to student achievement, well-being and the overall success of every student. Her skill set and impressive experience in senior leadership will serve the board well as we embark on a new strategic planning process and continue to address the needs within our district.”

The trustees spent five months assessing more than 30 candidates for the director position.

“It was a tough selection process,” Jackson said. “They were all good candidates and it was a very difficult decision.”

Jackson said the board’s final decision to hire Rantz was unanimous.

“The caliber of candidates (surprised me), and the fact that the Limestone District School Board was so attractive to so many people to come and apply here,” Jackson said. “We always knew that we operated a great board, but we were pleasantly surprised how many people wanted to come and live and work here.”

Some of the issues that Rantz can look forward to tackling include the building of two new schools, dealing with the continuing decline in enrolment and the upcoming French review.

Rantz said she plans to spend the first year listening to staff and students and looking for ways to build on the collaborative culture that has already been established.

“For me, it’s all about collaboration. It’s not about coming in here and making changes too quickly,” Rantz said. “I really believe in the student voice and want to hear from the students.”