2024 President’s Message
Happy New Year Greetings to you, our valued Ontario CEC Members!
We, the Board of Directors for Ontario CEC, send our wishes to you for the very best in 2024 and look forward to connecting with you this year as we focus on being CEC Change Champions!
We are pleased to introduce our 2024 Board of Directors to you! We welcome Grace Hall as our newest board member and look forward to the new ideas and contributions she will bring to our board.
I know from personal experience that this Board is a passionate group of advocates who are united in their purpose to focus on the mission and vision of Ontario CEC. It is this passion and dedication that drives the important work of this board.
What an honour it is for me to serve as President. I am humbled to work alongside such stellar human beings who bring such a wealth of collective experience, wisdom and skill to this Board. I would like to thank Donna Zuccato for all her work as President over the past 3 years. Donna supported the work of the leadership and executive team exceptionally well during covid with the necessary pivots. She worked hard and provided strong leadership to the committees and Board members.
As we continue to experience long-term effects of the pandemic, a unique stress sequence unlike any other, we continue to feel the impact in education. Ontario CEC is committed to providing consultation support and professional learning opportunities for children, families, educators, organizations, and school districts.
We are accountable to you, our members, and I am confident that this board of exemplary advocates will continue to provide the commitment to excellence that you, our members, have been accustomed to.
A few highlights of 2023 include:
A successful 67th Annual CEC Conference with a powerful keynote on The Power of Self-Advocacy. We were all challenged to Become CEC Change Champions and move from Being Empowered to Empowering Others!
*Empowered to Make Mattering a Priority, to build safe and inclusive environments where everyone feels like they matter, belong and their voices are heard, to support resiliency and social emotional wellbeing for all, and to build positive relationships with students, families and educators
*Empowered to Teach Self-Advocacy Skills, support students to understand who they are as learners, make space for student voices, agency and choice, being supportive of any and all attempts at self-advocacy; ensuring students have strong communication skills in a modality that works for them, able to create achievable goals with action-oriented steps and then reflect and revise as needed; and support Educators to understand individual learning profiles to ensure precise, personalized programing for students through a tiered approach that is good for all, necessary for some and essential for a few (Learning for All).
*Empowered to commit to anti-ableism, ensuring authentic representation and inclusive design; through the tiered approach, Learning for All, Universal Design and Differentiated Instruction, with high expectations, accommodations and instructional strategies to ensure all students can reach their potential; and by working to eliminate barriers, including language and attitudinal barriers; hearts, mindsets, skillsets and attitudes.
The best part of the Conference besides the energy and enthusiasm of the attendees and the excellent caliber of the presentations and poster sessions, was the presentation of the Yes, I Can Awards. We celebrated with excitement the presentation of 16 Students and 14 Adults Awards.
The contacts, connections and resources provided by CEC are essential for professionals who work in this field, as we navigate new ways to develop and apply programs and materials. As members of CEC, we have access to webcasts, podcasts, journal articles, resource links, and communication tools that are Canadian-wide and world-wide, to explore and use to enhance our practice. As a member of the many Divisions CEC has to offer, we can dig deeper into issues that are more specific to our professional experience.
Advocacy and progressive change is a cornerstone of our Ontario CEC mission. The Ontario Council for Exceptional Children has and will continue to advocate for the needs of exceptional children and youth through communication and consultation with the Special Education Branch of the Ministry of Education, the Minister’s Advisory Council for Special Education (MACSE) and the Ontario Council of Administrators of Special Education (OCASE - a subdivision of the CEC Council of Administrators of Special Education)and Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) .
The Ontario CEC will continue to respond to requests for consultation from the Ministry of Education regarding the Ontario Language Curriculum and from the Deputy Ministers of Education, Health, and Children, Community and Social Services regarding Policy/Program Memorandum No. 81, Provision of Health Support Services in School Settings as well as consultations for Special Education, Mental Health and any other requests that come in.
Volunteer with Ontario CEC – Enhance your leadership skills through support of CEC at the provincial or local level. Join an Ontario CEC committee for the opportunity to assist with a project, such as increasing our social media presence, developing and/or promoting a local chapter, helping with their initiatives, working with the Ontario Student Chapter or assisting at the annual conference. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested!
An annual Awards Program celebrates adults and youth from our schools, businesses, and Special Education Partnerships throughout Ontario. CEC chapters in Ontario host a community awards event each year. Provincial awards are presented at the annual conference. https://ontario.exceptionalchildren.org/past-award-recipients As an Ontario CEC member you can submit a nomination to your local chapter or directly on the website. https://ontario.exceptionalchildren.org/nomination-process Contact the Ontario CEC Awards Chair, Chad Downes, for more information.
Did you know you can make a Memorial Donation to Ontario CEC? Information can be found at https://ontario.exceptionalchildren.org/sites/default/files/2022-10/memorial_donations_information_sheet_rev_oct_2022.docx2_.pdf
Part of the mission of Ontario CEC is to maintain and grow our membership across Ontario. As a member of CEC we all have a role to play! We can help our CEC network grow by reaching out to colleagues, explaining the benefits of a CEC membership, inviting a colleague to attend our conference and sharing information from the Ontario and International CEC website and our social media accounts. Stay in touch with us and learn from us through these sites as we share key posts on mattering, self-advocacy and anti-ableism. Top Reasons to Belong to Ontario CEC. https://ontario.exceptionalchildren.org/membership
We are so excited to have a growing province-wide Ontario Student Chapter, welcoming post-secondary students from across Ontario. https://drive.google.com/file/d/18XRkkve0VIT_wObIqOTOJU1PQEP1x_ez/view?usp=share_link
President’s Goals for 2024:
Quality Teaching and Learning:
- Embed diversity, equity, inclusivity and accessibility within all Ontario CEC programs, practices and public awareness.
- Support the inclusion of topics of mental health and well-being, mattering and resiliency, transition, accessibility, self-determination/self-advocacy and anti-ableism within all special education (student support) programs.
- Support collaboration among educators, other service providers, such as Psychologists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Social Workers and families to effectively educate children and youth with disabilities and /or gifts and talents.
- Create opportunities for fostering mutual understanding and respect for values, educational traditions and practices supporting individuals across diverse populations
- Collaborate with the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), the Ministry of Education, MACSE, Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) and other regulatory Colleges and Ministries regarding special education and professional standards
- Strengthen existing, and develop new partnerships, among Ontario CEC, International CEC and organizations whose missions and commitments are congruent with Ontario CEC’s vision and mission.
- Support, retain, and strengthen Ontario CEC’s chapters, subdivisions and student chapters and facilitate collaboration among them.
- Grow and diversify Ontario CEC’s membership, develop its leadership, and enhance its value to members and other professionals through professional development such as webinars, volunteer opportunities and social media information posts.
- Achieve fiscal goals, implement cost effective operations, and utilize existing and emerging technologies to support the needs of special education professionals.
- Showcase and celebrate the accomplishments children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents, and the adults who support them through the Ontario CEC awards.
I hope everyone has had a chance to rest, restore and reflect as we prepare for this New Year ahead. The year is new in number, 2024, but not new in our continued service excellence. The Ontario CEC Board of Directors remain committed to our Vision of high-quality education that is inclusive, equitable and accessible for children and youth with disabilities; and our Mission of cultivating, supporting and empowering education professionals to be change champions who work with children and youth with disabilities and to our Core Values of visionary thinking and integrity.
In the community, home and workplace, we believe that:
- all children and youth are unique;
- each child and youth can learn to be successful in the home, community and workplace using his/her/their strengths and with support addressing his/her/their needs;
- all Ontarians need to work toward a barrier-free accessible Ontario;
- the Ontario Council for Exceptional Children is the voice and advocate for all children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents in Ontario.
In the education system we believe that.
- all students can succeed;
- each student has his, her, their own unique patterns of learning;
- equal is not equitable;
- successful instructional practices are founded on evidence-based research, tempered with experience;
- universal design and differentiated instruction are effective and interconnected means of meeting the learning needs of any group of students;
- classroom teachers are the key to a student’s literacy and numeracy development;
- classroom teachers need the support of the larger community to create a learning environment that supports all students.
*Adapted from Learning For All, A Guide to Effective Assessment and Instruction For All Students Kindergarten to Grade 12
We will continue to use our collective voice to advocate for all children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents in Ontario through quality teaching and learning, advocacy, collaborative partnerships and organizational vitality and through our shared mission, vision, values and shared beliefs. We will continue to work toward a barrier-free accessible Ontario where every student and educator feels they matter, and are empowered through self advocacy to have agency, voice and choice.
We stand together to be change champions to make a difference for students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. Be a CEC Change Champion along with us! It doesn’t take much! Join a committee if you have time. Check us out on our website. Follow us on Instagram for posts on Mattering, Self-advocacy, Anti-Ableism, updates on leadership opportunities and exciting webinars to come!
Wishing us all an exciting year ahead.
Dr. Sue Ball, Ph.D., ABSNP, C. Psych.
President – Ontario CEC
“CEC Change Champions in 2024”
Ontario Council for Exceptional Children
Check out our website: https://ontario.exceptionalchildren.org/
X formerly known as Twitter: @OntarioCec