Ontario English Catholic Teachers

President - René Jansen in de Wal (He/him/his)


Throughout his 30-plus-year career, René Jansen in de Wal has maintained a passion for education and advocacy. As he explains, “Every class is a new challenge. I look for something special in every student and person I meet. In everyone there is something special, and something to learn from.”

René ’s parents were both teachers and he enjoyed helping at his father’s school and working with students with special education needs. René began his teaching career as a secondary school teacher in 1986, working tirelessly for students inside the classroom, as well as for Catholic teachers at bargaining tables and working groups across the province. As a teacher, René has been honoured with several awards, such as being named Toronto Sun’s “Teacher of the Year,” receiving a Prime Minister Letter of Recognition for Teaching, and being the recipient of the Best Practices Award from the TCDSB.

In addition to his passion for the classroom, René has dedicated himself to protecting and expanding the rights of Catholic teachers. Throughout his career René has served on numerous OECTA committees, both at local and provincial levels. Among these, René has been Chief Negotiator and served as President of TSU for six years where, through bargaining and arbitration, he led major improvements in health and safety, addressing violence in the classroom, professional development, work conditions, and staffing. He has served on the Provincial Executive as Councillor, Third Vice-President, Second Vice-President, and First-Vice President. He has also served as an OTF Governor.

His passion for advocacy, social justice, and education has allowed René' to work collaboratively with Catholic, labour, and community partners. He believes in the value of different voices and is committed to finding common goals. “My experience has been that strategic focus on common values and diverse voices drives accomplishments that many could not imagine or achieve on their own.”

Like all teachers, René seeks the inspiration of potential in people, groups, and organizations. He has always been involved in leadership development. He is co-founder and organizer of several longstanding annual student leadership development programs. In 2014, he served as trip leader on a social justice venture where 30 students spent three weeks building schools for local communities in Kenya.

Outside of the school setting, René is an avid learner, reader, coach, and sports fan. In all his endeavours, René enjoys confronting challenges. As he puts it, “You really only grow and learn when you are helping others to be better, and when you allow others to challenge you to be better.”

“Leadership is an internal and collective journey that allows us to meet the biggest challenges,” says René “Leadership is best driven by curiosity and hope.”