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Ontario CEC’s 65th Anniversary

Ontario 65th

Past Presidents of Ontario CEC


Here is my attempt to remember some of the great things about the Council for Exceptional Children and the Ontario Council for Administrators in Special Education (OCASE).


My first memory of education programs would be during my elementary and secondary school years during the war. (no remarks…. WWII)


Some children did not attend school at all, because of physical, behavioural problems, or just inability to get to and from a school facility!


We did learn of special schools in the larger cities where youngsters with physical, vision or hearing difficulties attended and received special care and treatment, but they would likely have to board there for weeks, months, or even school years (away from their families and homes). Then, in my elementary school years, there was a small class of (I think only) boys who had learning and/or behavior problems. Their teacher was a very senior lady who had many years of experience, was well-liked in the school and, apparently, did an excellent job keeping the lads in school and out of trouble. These classes, I understand now, were called Opportunity Classes and she did just that! She gave her lads chances to meet with some success and pride and helped to prepared them for work and life in our society.


“Our paint man in the factory was a graduate of that program and a very fine and capable quiet chap who lived alone with his elderly mother”


Throughout my years teaching in Toronto, I worked in different special education programs getting support from those in the Special Education Department and my co-workers in regular classes. Very different types of special education programs were researched and developed. Support organizations like The Council for Exceptional Children and The Council for Administrators in Special Education were organized and helped us immensely in our understanding of the causes, treatment, and educational adjustments that were needed in working with the serious learning and behavioral problems our school children faced.


My most delightful experiences with CEC were with the contacts with other Special Education teachers, consultants, and directors in the Toronto Metro area. Each of the five boroughs and the Metro Catholic Board had its own Board of Education (mostly similar student populations throughout). It was through meetings and sharing of techniques, types of equipment and training that the CEC brought us together to amass a single voice to make necessary changes in programming for the then expanding learning problems in our children being diagnosed. Educators, medical and behavior specialists joined forces to look at causes, treatment, training methods and newly developed equipment required to give our special needs students the best chances at some success.


My personal top learning experiences were the International CEC conferences our Boards arranged for us to attend. We not only attended those full week meetings but hosted our own metro conferences.


Of Note: THE TEACHER IS THE KEY In November 1975. That fabulous experience not only brought all Special Education Toronto people together, but we proudly displayed our programs to the many Canadian and US North Americans we had personally met over the years.


Joan Kershaw, my cohort, personal friend and top administrator involved with Learning Disabilities, and I attended international meetings where we met and shared ideas (and fun) and met up with great people who were developing, creating and working with exceptional children across North America. (All through International CEC)


1973 – Dallas, 1974 – New York, 1975 – Los Angeles


November 1975 “The Teacher is the Key” The International CEC Conference held here in Toronto, hosted by the Metro Toronto Chapter of the Ontario Council for Exceptional Children.


I also attended 

1980 – Philadelphia, 1981 – Nashville, and later New York and then retired in 1982.


The Metro Toronto Boards/Chapters hosted another International CEC conference and Ontario cities organized local professional meetings as well.


Besides meeting and sharing ideas with old and new friends at these conferences, may I add a few memorable, fun-loving experiences Joan and I enjoyed at International CEC.


Joan and I shared a room at these conferences but attended different workshops and meetings. It became our social pleasure to invite new friends to our hotel room to “sit on the floor and sing!!” With the help of their “own liquid refreshments” our old and new songsters joined in, with many laughs. Our musical ability depended on the group talent, but we always knew the words to the warble…. For we had made up a little book with the words of our most favourite songs!


Of Note: Ron Jones, who had been a special education leader, at that time as Director of Education for the Toronto Board of Education, loved to sing and joined us often. One time we all rehearsed and were ready to sing for Ron when he arrived …. a special song …. and in tune!!!


The whole town’s talking about the Jones Boy … the Jones Boy … the Jones Boy!


Our little song book was well used at all the conferences we attended. 


One other fun bit of memorabilia was our trip to Texas, and our great friend “Jo”. She had been one of our choristers often and when Dallas hosted the meetings, Jo was well known in the area. She arranged for some of us to go by boat to have a bar-b-q on her man-made island, floating on a man-made lake! A very different experience for Ontario people! Added to that, the big formal dinner was held at the Dallas Cowboy Stadium. Our tables were set at one end of this huge stadium with the gigantic scoreboard screen towering over to the far end. Suddenly, flashed on that screen, were the great letters welcoming Joan Kershaw! Then, (and I crawled under the table) the whole screen flamed with… 


“Betty Beattie is our Sweety!”


Can you top that?!  Thank you, CEC. 

Betty (Beattie) Chandorkar    


CEC has always been an important professional support during my career as an educator.  The Council provides a collegial fellowship for professionals and parents in the education sector who care about the education and services provided for differently abled individuals in our communities.  As an International organization, CEC has always advocated for improvements in school systems.  In Ontario, as Chair of the Administrators of Special Education Association, I was involved in the development and implementation of Bill 82, responsibility legislation which provided a more integrated approach to serving the needs of exceptional students.

Don Werner

As President of Ontario CEC, member of the Canadian Council CEC, and liaison to both as an Education Officer of the Special Education Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Education, my greatest joy was working with the exceptional people in each of these organizations. Many are still my friends!


Don Werner









Mary Scott

Remarks from the 60th Anniversary


In 1960, when I took my first Ontario Ministry Auxiliary (pre-special education) course, I attended a Provincial CEC Conference and was instantly hooked.  What knowledgeable, exciting speakers; wonderful sharing of much needed information and sincere camaraderie!  What an exciting Association!


These many years later, I still credit CEC for opening new horizons for me and giving me the experiences and challenges to make my past professional life more productive.


And how I treasure my old CEC friends and look forward to making new ones.


I wear my Past President’s pins with pride and joy.


Mary Scott


Here are my thoughts on what CEC has meant to me:


 "As a beginning teacher, I found myself in an inner-city school, with many children with special needs. Since there were several special education classes, I was invited to join CEC. This was my introduction to my long and happy association with CEC. There I found my "tribe" of committed enthusiastic fellow-educators! I found inspiration and vision from the conferences, and an opportunity to influence attitudes in the schools where I taught.


Through the years I found my way into leadership roles within CEC at the local, national, and international level. I served as president for Ontario and Canadian CEC and participated as an international oral historian and in a think-tank in Reston, Virginia. I also served on the steering committee for the 75th anniversary of International CEC.


CEC has been a guiding force in my life as a special educator. I welcome the opportunity to celebrate this CEC milestone! Thank you!

Barry Lee

During his entire career in education at the Scarborough Board of Education, Barry served as an Elementary School Principal, Centrally Assigned Principal in Special Education, Administrator of Special Education Services, Area Superintendent of Schools and Assistant Superintendent of Student and Community Services.


Early in his career it was evident that Barry could relate to special needs students and often would take on the task of supporting male students with behavioural challenges with good success. He became a member of CEC so he could learn more about exceptional children and youth, their programming needs and the provision of support programs and services. Barry was inspired to become involved in local and Ontario CEC by Earl Campbell, a friend and colleague in Special Education Services at the school board.


Mr. Lee’s greatest memories of his CEC involvement were meeting educators from other countries at conferences which provided new ideas and inspired him to introduce new directions in his own school system. Barry continued to work at the provincial level of CEC and promoted the organization as Ontario CEC Newsletter Editor of “In Focus”, a regularly published information source for teachers and administrators and encouraged others to join CEC.  He gave leadership and inspired many over the years by organizing an annual “Reach Me – Teach Me” conference in February, sponsored by the Scarborough Board of Education, to provide professional development support for regular classroom and special education teachers and administrators.


Barry has served as President of the Scarborough CEC Chapter, Provincial Conference Coordinator, Ontario CEC Newsletter Editor, Secretary of the Provincial Executive and Chair of the Committee on “Harmonizing Differences: Building for Tomorrow”, and the Policy Statements Review Committee. For his leadership, Mr. Lee received a number of honours including – Outstanding Service Award, Educational Leader of the Year Award for Zone 7; CEC Chapter 568 Achievement Award in Appreciation of His Dedicated Efforts on Behalf of Exceptional Children Across Canada and the Achievement Award of Merit.


As a member of the Ontario Provincial CEC Board, Barry contributed to the 1982 revision of the document, “We Are Not Alike”, a policy statement of the Ontario CEC Federation. In October 1981 Barry was the Conference Coordinator for the 25th Annual Conference and Anniversary Celebration at the Royal York Hotel.  The conference had 5,500 registrants, the highest attendance at a provincial CEC conference.  The theme was “Focus for the Future” and The Right Honourable Edward Schreyer, Governor-General of Canada, was the Keynote Speaker. There were 145 plenary sessions offered.


In October 1987 Barry Lee, as President of Ontario CEC, presided over the 31st Annual Ontario CEC Conference at the Royal York Hotel with the theme, “Soaring to Excellence”. The conference was organized along four themes – 1) Cognitive Interventions with Exceptional Students; 2) The Exceptional Pupil in Regular Grade; 3) Meeting Special Needs from Infancy Through Adulthood: Continuous Support Across the Lifespan and 4) School Boards and the Needs of Exceptional Students: Models and Resources. Dr. Bernard Shapiro, Deputy Minister of Education was a Keynote Speaker on the topic “Excellence for All”.


The Council for Exceptional Children is fortunate to have Barry Lee’s leadership during many challenging years in the provision of programs and services for exceptional children and youth.

Cheryl Zinszer

The Council for Exceptional Children is an outstanding organization dedicated to enhancing the knowledge and skills of educators, school support staff, researchers, parents of students with special learning needs, and other professionals in the field of Special Education. Through this enhancement of knowledge and skills, the education for these students is enhanced.  CEC provides the opportunities to network, share ideas, experiences, and expertise with colleagues.  Through CEC I developed contacts all over North America and formed lifelong friendships with those who share the same passion as I do for students with exceptional learning needs. CEC has kept me current on the latest trends, teaching strategies and programs in Special Education. I have such fond memories of my days on the executive of CEC. It was an honour and a privilege to serve as Ontario and Canadian president.  I thank CEC for the opportunities It gave me to grow as a professional.  I will treasure this forever.


In 1972 we moved to Ontario, and I embarked on a new career as Consultant in Special Education. I searched for a professional organization that would support me in this new challenging role. CEC provided a one-stop shop. CEC’s core purpose, mission and core values fulfilled all aspects and demands of my position – professional development, mentoring, networking, leadership, and advocacy training. CEC did and continues to demonstrate forward thinking and courageous decision making dedicated to excellence, accountability and responsive action toward all issues facing persons with exceptionalities.  In particular, I have always valued CEC’s recognition of the important role of standards in defining special education as a profession. CEC plays a leading role in using research based collaborative processes to ensure that standards are current, research based and fully address the knowledge and skills special educators must master. CEC has provided me with a trusted source of reliable information from which I have personally benefited in my role as a special education teacher, administrator and in serving CEC Ontario. I have always had a great deal of admiration for the work and dedication that the CEC community provides in mentoring and in ongoing networking – friends for life. I am honoured to be a part of this great organization.


Mission:  My 40 year involvement with CEC has no doubt provided me with endless opportunities to develop and grow in my own personal and professional mission - to make a difference in the quality of education for individuals with special needs.  As outlined below, my growth and development has occurred in many ways over time as I have taken on a variety of roles, duties and assignments within and through CEC involvement:  

  • Direct Service, Leadership & Support:  As a result, I have been able to provide direct service, a variety of programs, leadership and support to individuals with special needs and those who work with them.  
  • Professional Development & Mentorship:  For me, CEC has been an excellent resource for professional development, mentorship and knowledge exchange through regular publications, journals, newsletters, Chapter and Division workshops, provincial and international conferences.  Advocacy:  CEC has also provided me the opportunity to work locally, nationally and internationally to be an influential advocate for government policies on issues that affect special education practice and interests and to give input into the establishment of standards for professionals and paraprofessionals who work with exceptional children & youth.  
  • Partnerships, Connections & Friendships:  It has also been my good fortune, through CEC, to establish and maintain partnerships with parents, professional & para professional organizations.  In addition, I have been able to connect with dedicated individuals whose similar interests and investments in time, energy and commitment have established a common bond that ties us together.  
  • Lifetime Memories & Relationships:  All these experiences have resulted in lifetime memories and lasting relationships for me that span the diversity, relevance and endurance of CEC membership and its benefits.  

What a gratifying experience it has been!  I was so pleased to be part of the 60th Ontario CEC Diamond Jubilee Celebration!!!! I look forward to the 65th Anniversary of Ontario CEC this year.  


CEC provided leadership in the development, promotion and implementation of Bill 82 in the 1980's and 1990's. I remember feeling so excited and honoured to be a part of this new direction in support for our exceptional students and teachers. Also, meeting educators from across Ontario, Canada and USA has been an unforgettable, enriching experience. I am indebted to CEC for the valued friendships, the new ideas, the development of leadership skills and the adventure!


How I wish I could be with you to celebrate this wonderful time. At this point of my life, I have a few obstacles that are challenging for me. My heart and my spirit are there celebrating this special organization, its members over the years and the myriads of children and youth who have been blessed and challenged by special educators, support staff, leaders in government, supported by parents and all who love them.


I retired from education 20 years ago. I went into education in 1970 to work in Special Education and I did. Living in the same area where I worked during my teaching career, I have the opportunity to connect or hear of many former students and parents and guardians. Throughout the years and connections, I know many of these students lived happy and successful lives with the gifts and talents they had been given. Some struggle and continue to fight their way through life. There have been a very few who met with tragic ends or continue to struggle so much. I am grateful for the many former students and parents / guardians I have met over the years that share the happy times their children had in their special education time and that they knew I loved them and only wanted the best for them and that means the world to me. And my experience and story are not unique.  Many, many of my colleagues have had similar experiences. We knew our students, their families, their challenges, their gifts, their hopes, their fears. We knew them! A teacher in our secondary special education area shared over the years that students she received from me arrived with their self-esteem intact and were ready to roll!


I guess what I am trying to say is that even though I speak of the “olden days” and we did not have all the answers and special education has taken many dips, dives, turns, changes, that the hearts and needs of children and youth have not changed. They need love, acceptance, encouragement, support from all the people in their lives, teachers and support workers included. Most of the most challenged students need even more … sometimes more than you may have so I hope you have a village to help!


I continue to be blessed with great friends who have been my colleagues in CEC, who mentored me over the years, who I mentored over the years and we now share our lives, our journeys, our memories and we continue to make new memories! I hope the same for each of you!


Blessings on the 65th Anniversary of Ontario CEC and Conference


Claranne McFarling, Past President


What CEC Means to Me


When an early mentor suggested to me that I might be interested in joining my local chapter of CEC, I was unaware of the profound influence it would have on me in both my professional life and in extending my contact with individuals who would have an effect upon my growth.  CEC is the only organization of which I am aware which embraces members of all of the professions which have interest in supporting children and youth with exceptionalities and which offers full membership to parents of those children and youth.  It has guided me in my professional practice as both a classroom teacher and administrator and connected me with individuals who have both befriended and mentored me.  It is truly a community.


Joe de Bruijn, past president


CEC has been a great part of my life over the last 40 years.  In 1980, as the Ontario government was introducing Bill 82, I was approached by Bruce Mason and Ken McKenzie, leaders within CEC, to consider joining CEC.   My 1st response was "Are you sure?  I am a parent, workshop presenter and community advocate."  Their answer was yes.   CEC needs to branch out to various other leaders in our community, beyond schools.  I was determined then to prove that home, school, ministry and school boards could network, share resources, be engaged  and work together for students with special needs to enable them to  live up to their potential. I was thrilled and have never looked back over the last 40 years.  I was so honored and privileged to be involved at the local Chapter 543 York Region, Ontario, Canadian and International levels, which gave me so many leadership  and network opportunities.  CEC  has provided professional development, advocacy, partnerships, leadership, policy changes within government, mentorship, and support to so many members over the years.  They are a champion for those who have a limited voice, to ensure that their voices are heard.  One of my favorite moments is the Yes I Can ceremony when we annually recognize our students and professionals who have been exemplary in their roles. There is never a dry eye in the room as they see how proud we all are of their success.  I am truly grateful for CEC and celebrate the lifelong relationships and friendships that are now part of my life because two leaders reached out and said please join us in our CEC mission.


Lynn Ziraldo


Past President York Region Chapter

Past President Ontario and Canadian CEC

Past Student Advisor Ontario

Past Governor/Canadian member at large International CEC




" Caring by an Excellent Community" is the phrase that captures my years of involvement with CEC, initially at the Hamilton-Wentworth chapter level and then at the Ontario provincial level. It was meeting exceptional advocates for people with diverse needs and talents that captured my interest and spirit. Parents, teachers, educational support workers, health care professionals, school administrators and technology specialists made up this unique community committed to help our children and youth. Their individual and collective work and creativity was inspiring! More than 25 years of CEC involvement blessed me with opportunities to develop long- lasting friendships and a strong network of professionals that I could turn to for ideas, strategies or a shoulder on which to share concerns. That community of caring people is who CEC is! Congratulations on 65 years of exceptional advocacy.  


For me I think Ontario CEC's mission statement, 'The voice and vision of special education' underscores my thoughts about what CEC means to me.


It is the voice and vision of and for the thousands of children it has served over 60 years, their families, the educators and the professional and paraprofessionals who work with these children. It is a passionate, powerful, articulate and influential voice that is heard and respected by all those able to make positive changes for children with special needs, changes that will affect not only their journey through their school years, but reach far into their adult lives.


I have many wonderful memories of my many years with CEC, but the one I cherish most as OCEC President, is presenting Yes I Can Awards to a host of excited young recipients and seeing the proud, beaming faces of their families. We said many times, "it's always about the kids!"


Congratulations to all those involved in the Yes I Can Awards over the past twenty five years. Its success is truly what CEC is all about.


My best wishes to all involved in the planning for a successful conference and wonderful celebration.



Marlene S

My entire experience as a member and past president for CEC, at both the local and the provincial levels remains a constant highlight of my career in education.


Most of what I learned and applied in the classroom and in all my work in cognitive and academic assessment had its roots in the many conferences I attended throughout the years sponsored by CEC.  There were fundamentally no resources or supports back then to assist teachers and parents in meeting the needs of students with special needs. These many top-drawer presenters at the various conferences laid the groundwork for many CEC members to help build service tour students with special needs and became what is now mandated in every classroom across the province.


I have such fond but incredible memories of so many outstanding people that I met and befriended through my work with CEC…. Hundreds of good hearted, hardworking, intelligent members and leaders who shared their knowledge, expertise, fun (lots and lots of fun), laughter and accomplishments with me at every turn.


I remained in awe each time I attended the CEC Student Awards Ceremonies wherever they were happening, always giving more to those in attendance than we could ever give to the recipients themselves.


When I look back on all my work with CEC and all the great people I was able to work with, I am truly grateful that I was a part of it all and that it was such a worthwhile undertaking.  I am thrilled to know your CEC work continues and I wish you all continued success.


Marlene Sartor

Denise D

It is with great pride and pleasure that I write my thoughts to share with you during this the 65th Annual Ontario CEC Conference. As a former President of this incredible organization I am proud and honoured to have been asked to attend this year’s Provincial milestone year.


Unfortunately due to conflicts in my schedule I am unable to attend in person; however, I would like to share the impact that CEC has had on my life. Ontario CEC has provided me with an incredible foundation to know, understand and realize the benefits of being of service. Learning, growing and understanding life through another’s eyes and being the best support possible for those who have a similar mission, purpose and cause.


CEC has always been an incredibly resilient organization. Over the years since its inception it has met with a multitidue of constraints, financial implications, political upheavels, and various strains that have helped mould its continued resiliency.


As a member of CEC you will have experienced some, many if not all of the ups and downs it has endured over the years and yet, Ontario CEC has never folded, crashed, dissolved, nor disappeared. NEVER! There is only ONE reason that Ontario CEC has gripped the wheel of change, turned, adapted, and steered its way out of extinction. The ONE reason is because of its heart center, the MEMBERS!


Ontario CEC is celebrating its 65th Annual Ontario Conference BECAUSE of the MEMBERS. It is the members that make Ontario CEC. The heart of this organization is the people and the purpose behind the work done by Ontario CEC and that is all about the children and the families that we collectively serve.


Congratulations to Ontario CEC for celebrating its 65th Annual Conference! It is an honour and a privilege to have been President and I know that as long as there are people committed to the charge of CEC in our Province, we will never ever see or experience the demise of Ontario CEC. Ontario CEC is so much more than an organization, Ontario CEC is the heart of the members and the children and families it continues to support and serve.


Congratulations Ontario CEC for celebrating your 65th Annual Provincial Conference wishing you all a wonderful celebratory event.


Much love,

Denise Drinkwalter

Past President

2002 and 2003

Diane Van

What CEC Means to Me


After staying at home with my children for 10 years, I returned to teaching in 1975. The Special Education Superintendent asked me to open a self-contained classroom for 15 ten year old children. The school already had 5 primary self-contained classrooms and was in a subsidized housing complex.


The Consultant invited me to a local CEC meeting and I was hooked. My network had grown from half a dozen school colleagues to board colleagues to Ontario colleagues and journals. I even networked with US colleagues. My learning curve was huge but I also learned to embrace lifelong learning.


Despite the fact I retired 21 years ago, I continue my CEC membership because I value the learning, friendship and camaraderie I have with Ontario CEC members.


My experience as Ontario CEC President and as a member of CEC was a very rewarding experience.


The opportunity to network with other special educators, support staff and parents was wonderful for me to have a better understanding of all exceptionalities and the roles other people play in the support of our exceptional students. 


Also, the association that CEC has with the Ministry of Education allows us the opportunity to advocate and provide input to the Ministry for our students. CEC’s voice is extremely valuable. I learned leadership skills and acquired more knowledge in all areas of special education, as well as strategies to use in my day-to-day work as an Educational Assistant. 


I have very fond memories of my Presidency and my years being part of the Ontario Council and the Sudbury Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children.




Kim Taylor Horeck

CIndy Perras

CEC “connects the dots” in life for me, as an educator, as a parent and as a volunteer.


In 1988, my Superintendent told me, as a Special Education Resource Teacher, that I needed to belong to CEC and so I attended my first Ontario CEC Conference that fall and joined CEC the next year. CEC has provided me with incredible support and resources through a myriad of special education teaching positions over the last 33 years.


As the mother of an adult daughter with a developmental disability and medical complications, CEC’s Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities has provided me with ongoing research-based and practice-informed resources and networking opportunities.


As a volunteer, I have been provided with so many opportunities to give back through CEC:

  • Serving on the Ontario CEC Board of Directors since 2000, twice through the Presidential cycle, and now as Conference Co-ordinator
  • Serving on Ontario CEC Chapter 391 Executive
  • Serving on DADD’s Board of Directors since 1998, as Canadian Member, Secretary, President and now as Conference Co-ordinator
  • Serving on DADD’s Ontario Subdivision
  • Served as Ontario CEC’s Liaison to the Ministry of Education’s Autism Initiative
  • Served as Conference Program Advisory Co-Chair for CEC’s Annual Convention and Trade Show
  • Serving on CEC’s Board of Directors as Member-at-Large


CEC makes a significant difference in the lives of students with disabilities and the educators who support them. I am honoured to be part of CEC and I cherish my friendships within CEC.


Cindy Perras

Dr Ash

My tenure as CEC Ontario President offered me a privileged opportunity to serve with a team of dedicated colleagues in advancing the mission as stated of improving the educational success of students with disabilities. CEC initiatives have always had a person- centered focus and align with my teaching philosophy.


Celebrating this milestone anniversary speaks volumes. The number 65 has been usually connected with retirement. My interpretation of math sees the number differently. I view the number as a benchmark of our associations’ accomplishments and dedication to affecting positive change. More importantly it is a validation of the continuation of our making a positive impact in the lives of our students, families, and members. Hurray for being 65 years young.


I have grown and continue to grow professionally and personally from attending the Yes I Can Awards. I have heard shared stories from recipients of overcoming daunting barriers. I remain in awe of the resilience and persistence they demonstrated in their journeys. They were utterly amazing, inspirational, and made believers of the doubters.


I thought about what the letters CEC - O means to me. CEC - O stands for Caring Educators Creating Opportunity. I will conclude with these words that have guided me faithfully through my educational career with Ontario CEC from Maya Angelou:


“They may forget what you said. But they will not forget how you made them feel. “


Working with Ontario CEC makes me feel fulfilled!


Dr. Ashleigh Molloy.  

Amy Shannon

What does CEC mean to me?


As I am nearing 30 years of membership in the Council for Exceptional Children, and we are celebrating our 65th Anniversary Year, this is a perfect time to reflect on what CEC means to me.


I originally joined CEC to further my knowledge about the field of special education. My department head at the time introduced me to the organization. I had come to Canada with training as a Health Education and Science Teacher and soon found I had an interest in the many different and alternative ways in which students learned. I was looking for research, but also strategies to use in the classroom, to assist my students to be successful and engaged in their learning. I found myself moving to new school communities and new programs as my own educational journey progressed. CEC was my main source of peer reviewed research to keep me up to date on the latest information and trends, strategies I could use the next day, professional workshops, and inspiring conferences with presentations that ignited my own enthusiasm in the classroom, on numerous topics that I shared with my colleagues at each school along the way. Joining my local Toronto Chapter opened the door to a wealth of networking among colleagues across various school boards, opening my eyes to so many of the opportunities I enjoyed throughout my career. CEC gave me the depth of education and resources to serve all my students – that I hadn’t found anywhere else. It was, for me, the doorway to other support and resources from more ‘specialized’ organizations in this field (LDAO for one).


I found that my involvement with CEC, initially at the local level, then later as a member of the provincial board, helped to sharpen and further develop my leadership skills, communication skills, and most importantly gave me a sense of confidence and belonging in this challenging and ever-changing field. I enjoyed promoting CEC and sharing information with new teachers in training, as well as with colleagues in various roles at my school board, and at the hospital program I taught in. As I am now retired from teaching but carrying on with my role on the Board of Directors and with the local Toronto Chapter 56, I continue to learn and develop new skills, and meet new people with similar passions and interests. I have heard about and seen firsthand the impact this organization has made – not only in Ontario – but across Canada. I am a strong advocate that International CEC continues to recognize the role Canada has had in their own growth from the very beginning 100 years ago up to today. Thank you, CEC, for being a valued friend. 


Congratulations Ontario CEC on your 65th Anniversary celebrations!


I began my journey with the Ontario Council for Exceptional Children back in the eighties when my good friend and colleague Cindy Perras enticed me to volunteer at the Ontario CEC conferences. In 2002 I decided to become a member of an organization that would provide me with opportunities to develop and grow in my own personal and professional career. This incredible, diverse organization enabled me to give back while engaging in professional development, leadership, networking, advocacy training and later on in my career mentoring. Being part of Ontario CEC has taught me that parents, school boards, ministries must work in a collaborative manner on behalf of all students with special needs. Being an active Board member for numerous years, and the Canadian Regional Representative for Autism, Intellectual Disability and Developmental Disabilities (DADD) provided me with leadership opportunities outside of Canada.


All these experiences have resulted in lifetime memories and lasting friendships. This is such a worthwhile organization to join and I would encourage parents, educators, school support staff, administrators and researchers to get involved in Ontario CEC, the voice and vision of special education.


Congratulations Ontario CEC for celebrating your 65th Anniversary!


Beth Kavanagh Past President   DADD Canadian Regional Representative 2012-2017 Ontario Membership Chair 2019-present    

Dianne Parr

I had the privilege to join the education sector in 1989, 9 years after Bill 82 which gave the rights for all children to attend publicly funded education.  Providing the most effective instructional practices and outcomes for diverse learners, led me to join the Council for Exceptional Children early in my career as I quickly realized the wealth of expertise and knowledge the organization provided.  I welcomed the opportunity to read the journals, attend the conferences and later join my local Chapter.  As my journey continued in the education field, I also became the parent of a child with a disability.   Knowing that CEC was dedicated to improving the educational outcomes for students married well with my parental perspective of providing the best outcomes for my child and the children of other families.  Being a member of CEC and providing leadership in my local chapter and at the provincial level was the highlight of my career.  CEC remains relevant and continues to strive supporting the best outcomes for students with disabilities!


Dianne Parr, Reg CASLPO, Reg. OCT


I first joined CEC Ontario when I was asked to help organize the annual provincial conference that had been awarded to the Waterloo Region and planned for the fall of 1986. Unfortunately, my wife, Sharon, and I left to teach at a university in North-West China just before the actual event took place.


When I became an education officer at the Ministry of Education in 2000, I was asked to be the liaison with CEC Ontario. My goal was to establish a ministry presence at the annual provincial conference so that educators would have the most current special education news regarding trends, policy changes and resources. I am pleased that the ministry strand of presentations has remained an integral component of the annual conference.


When I retired in 2010 I was asked to join the CEC Board of Directors and agreed to place my name in nomination for the presidential cycle. There were challenges, as is the case with all volunteer organizations as the ways people connect have changed over the years. My goal as president was effective, ongoing communication. I believed that if we kept talking together, the work of the board would move forward with its role, secure as an effective advocate for children and youth with exceptionalities and their families. After my years on the board I’m now continuing as a proud CEC member and a Pioneer. That means I’m old.


My favourite memory has always been the same, watching kids and adults being recognized for their efforts and contributions. “Yes I Can’ always reminds me why we exist as an organization and why we need to constantly strive to get better at what we do.

Last Updated:  29 August, 2022

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