Former Ontario Minister of Education and distinguished educators join EQAO

    TORONTO, Aug. 22 /CNW/ - One of Ontario's former Ministers of Education,
Dave Cooke, and two distinguished educators, Hélène Chayer and Janet
Wilkinson, have been appointed by the Government of Ontario to the Board of
Directors of the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). In
addition, Marie Parsons, most recently Superintendent of Education with the
Avon Maitland District School Board, is joining EQAO in the staff role of
Chief Assessment Officer.
    "We are very pleased to welcome to the board Dave Cooke, Hélène Chayer
and Janet Wilkinson - three remarkable individuals who have made outstanding
contributions to the field of education throughout their careers," said Brian
L. Desbiens, Chair of EQAO's Board of Directors. "Their in-depth knowledge of
Ontario's education system will further strengthen EQAO's leadership and will
greatly benefit the province's publicly funded school system as a whole."
    Dave Cooke was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for 20
years, serving in numerous capacities. In the early 1990s, he served as
Ontario's Minister of Education and, during this time, he established the
Royal Commission on Learning, which led to the creation of EQAO. He is
currently serving as the Chair of the Board of Governors of the University of
    Hélène Chayer was the Director of Education for the Conseil scolaire
catholique du Nouvel-Ontario from 1998 to 2007, and has worked in various
capacities in education for over 30 years. Over the years, Ms. Chayer's
involvement in various provincial, regional and national French-language
committees has made it possible for her to establish a solid network in the
field of education.
    Janet Wilkinson has held the position of Director of Education for the
Keewatin-Patricia District School Board since 2003 and is also the Chair of
the Northern Ontario Education Leaders (NOEL), an organization of leaders of
educational organizations in Northwestern Ontario.
    The recent appointments coincide with the completion of the terms of both
Mariette Carrier-Fraser and Dr. Bette M. Stephenson. Dr. Stephenson, a
founding member of the EQAO board and a former Minister of Education, has
accepted the honorary position of Director Emeritus bestowed by EQAO's Board
of Directors in recognition of her contributions to the education community.
Earlier this year, the Government of Ontario also appointed Dr. Brian L.
Desbiens as chair of EQAO's board of directors after Dr. Charles E. Pascal,
the former chair, stepped down on February 1, 2008.
    Dr. Desbiens brings over 35 years of education experience to the
leadership of the agency. Throughout his career, he has contributed to the
development of numerous education policies and sat on government panels,
including the working group established to reform the secondary school
structure in the 1990s. Dr. Desbiens has also served on the boards of several
provincial and national organizations and has been the president of Sir
Sandford Fleming College for 16 years.
    "We are equally pleased to welcome Marie Parsons, a leader who has
dedicated her entire career to education and who brings a wealth of knowledge
to the role of Chief Assessment Officer," stated Marguerite Jackson, Chief
Executive Officer of EQAO. "Since the founding days of EQAO, she has been an
active supporter of the agency's initiatives, in her roles as both principal
and superintendent. Her broad experience and skills will become instrumental
as she takes on her new role with EQAO."
    In addition to her recent role as superintendent, Marie Parsons has been
a principal and has an extensive background in educational leadership and an
in-depth knowledge of special education. She brings a solid understanding of
both the elementary and the secondary school curricula to the position of
Chief Assessment Officer. Marie Parsons is currently serving as president of
the Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society Board of Directors. She has been a
long-time advocate for young people and quality education.
    Marie Parsons replaces Victoria Hemming as Chief Assessment Officer.
Victoria Hemming served in that role admirably for five years on secondment
from the Ottawa District School Board. The term of her secondment came to an
end in June 2008.
    EQAO and the Ontario education community owe a debt of gratitude to
Mariette Carrier-Fraser, Dr. Bette M. Stephenson and Victoria Hemming, whose
experience, wisdom and leadership have made an immeasurable contribution.

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    About EQAO

    The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) acts as a catalyst
for increasing the success of Ontario students by measuring their achievement
in reading, writing and mathematics against a common curriculum benchmark. As
an independent provincial agency, EQAO plays a pivotal role by conducting
province-wide tests at key points in every student's primary, junior and
secondary education and reporting the results. The objective and reliable
facts obtained add to the current knowledge about student learning and are an
important tool for improvement at the individual, school and provincial

    About EQAO's Board of Directors
    The EQAO Board of Directors consists of the following members:
      -  Dr. Brian L. Desbiens, Chair
      -  Jerry Ponikvar, Vice-Chair
      -  Marguerite Jackson, EQAO's Chief Executive Officer
      -  Dr. Bette M. Stephenson, Director Emeritus
      -  Evelyn Bradley, Member
      -  Hélène Chayer, Member
      -  Dave Cooke, Member
      -  Dr. Lorna Earl, Member
      -  Marilyn Knox, Member
      -  Anita Kesavan Srinivasan, Member
      -  Janet Wilkinson, Member

    To learn more about EQAO's board members, please visit the "About EQAO"
section on EQAO's Web site,

For further information:

For further information: Katia Collette, Communications Officer, (416)

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Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO)

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