McGuinty Government Strengthens Parent Involvement In Public Education

    New Board And Grants Will Help Parents Get Involved In Their Children's

    TORONTO, Aug. 27 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is making it easier for
parents to play an active role in their children's education by creating a
Provincial Parent Board and funding parent involvement grants, Education
Minister Kathleen Wynne announced today.
    "Our government believes that parents should have a direct influence on
the public education of their children," said Wynne. "Whether it's with a
voice at the table or a resource at the school, the new board and the grants
will help support parent involvement."
    As advisors to the minister, members of the Provincial Parent Board will
play an important role in ensuring that effective parent engagement programs
are available across the province. Board members offer a variety of
experience, and come from communities across Ontario.
    "This is truly an honour for me," said Aimee Gerdevich, chair of the new
Provincial Parent Board. "I am looking forward to working with this group of
involved and experienced parent leaders and the Ministry of Education to help
parents from all corners of the province become engaged in their children's
educational experience."
    Wynne also announced that Parents Reaching Out grants will again be
available for the 2007-08 school year. The grants support projects that help
create a more welcoming environment for parents who face barriers to becoming
involved in their children's education or school. Starting today, parents can
visit the ministry's website for information on the grants and how to apply.
For the previous school year, the ministry received more than
3,000 applications and invested $3.7 million to fund almost half of them.
    And starting next month, a total of 89 Parenting and Family Literacy
centres will open at sites across the province. Recognizing the importance of
parent involvement, last June the McGuinty government announced a $6 million
investment in the centres. This investment will benefit the 54 existing
centres in Toronto and 35 new centres across Ontario.
    Located in high-needs neighbourhoods, Parenting and Family Literacy
centres focus on building children's literacy and numeracy skills through
stories, music, reading and playing. Staff also engage parents in their
children's learning and can link families with appropriate community resources
as needed.
    "Promoting parent involvement is critical," said Wynne. "We know that
children do better in school when their parents are engaged in their learning.
And better students grow into more successful adults."

    In addition to these latest initiatives by the ministry, there are a
number of other valuable resources for parents, including:

    -   The Ministry of Education website has been revamped to make it easier
        to navigate and find helpful information, tools and tips for parents:

    -   Class-size tracker: Students in smaller classes get more attention,
        do better and are more likely to succeed in high school and beyond.
        Information on class sizes by school, school board and for all of

    -, a new website for the parents of elementary school
        children, provides parents with practical ideas and tips they can use
        to help children develop reading, writing and math skills, at

    - TVO helps parents become more involved in their
        kids' education through this unique online resource centre. This
        interactive site answers parents' questions and concerns with the aim
        of helping parents get more involved in supporting their child's
        education. Information is available at

    "I want to thank the new members of the parent board and I look forward to
benefiting from their knowledge and experience," said Wynne. "By working with
parents, teachers, support staff and our partners in education, we will reach
every student and help them succeed."

    Disponible en français




    The new Provincial Parent Board will provide a strong voice for parents at
the provincial level and play a critical role in advising the ministry on the
development and implementation of effective parent involvement programs across

    The board will guide efforts to involve parents in their children's
education and will perform two key functions:
    -   Advise the minister on getting parents involved in education
    -   Monitor the state of parent engagement in the school system.

    More than 250 interested parents and guardians applied to be on the board.
Applications were screened for eligibility and completeness, and a nominating
committee of involved parents reviewed and assessed the applications.
    The Provincial Parent Board will be chaired by Aimee Gerdevich, a vice
president of the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education (OAPCE)
and co-chair of the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee of Thunder Bay
Catholic District School Board.

    The members of the Provincial Parent Board are:
    -   Aimee Gerdevich (Chair), Thunder Bay
    -   Melanie Baker-Brown, Lunenberg
    -   Alimamy Bangura, Toronto
    -   Nadine Clark, Kanata
    -   Anelia Coppes, Parry Sound
    -   Margo Cowie, Toronto
    -   Connie Howe-Buckler, Maidstone
    -   Craig Hurst, Horseshoe Valley
    -   Richard McAllister, Welland
    -   Pauline McRae, Marathon
    -   Jim McGrorey, Brooklin
    -   Sylvia Menezes, Scarborough
    -   Robert Morais, Kemptville
    -   Frederic Nzeyimana, Scarborough
    -   Suzanne Rochon, Corbeil
    -   Kim Skidmore, Cochrane
    -   Linda Steel, London
    -   Candi Wall, Dryden

    Biographical information on the members of the Provincial Parent Board is
available in a separate background document as well as on the Ministry's
website at:
    The establishment of the Provincial Parent Board is a key part of the
Ontario Parent Involvement Policy released in December 2005. The McGuinty
government recognizes the vital role that parents play in the education of
their children. Based on this recognition, the policy provides real support
aimed at making it easier for parents to get involved.

    Disponible en français




                             Member Biographies

    Aimee Gerdevich, Chair, Thunder Bay (Northwestern Region)

    Aimee Gerdevich is an involved parent who has played an active role in
her children's learning and school activities for many years.
    Aimee's commitment to her children's education led her to become
progressively more involved in the education system. She has served on
individual school councils and has helped shape the school system by working
on committees at the school board and regional levels.
    In addition to her new duties as Chair of the Provincial Parent Board,
she currently serves as Vice President and Director of The Ontario Association
of Parents in Catholic Education (OAPCE). Aimee is also involved with other
associations and committees dedicated to education and the community,
including her role as Co-chair of the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee of
Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.

    Alimamy Bangura, Toronto (GTA Region)

    Alimamy is a Canadian of African decent. Since 1998, Alimamy has been
involved in a number of teaching positions including the Train the Trainer
program at Seneca College and as a field instructor for Social Work students
at Ryerson University and George Brown College. He has served on a number of
non-profit organization's boards and is currently the chair of school council
in the school where his daughter attends. He is also the Outreach Coordinator
for the Community Parent Education Program at the Family Service Association
of Toronto.

    Melanie Baker Brown, Lunenburg (Eastern Region)

    Melanie has over fifteen years of experience serving on school councils
and various school board strategic planning committees. She currently is a
board member of the following organizations within her community: Aultsville
Theatre, St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences, Cornwall
Youth Centre and the Aultsville Winter Film Festival.

    Nadine Clark, Kanata (Eastern Region)

    Nadine has over four years of experience serving on a number of school
councils. She participated in the Parental Involvement Project and served as a
board member with the United Way of Sarnia-Lambton for many years. Nadine has
been a member of numerous Canadian professional associations and corporate
global diversity initiatives.

    Anelia Coppes, Parry Sound (Northeastern Region)

    Anelia has over seven years of experience serving on school council, at
elementary and secondary levels. She took part in the Parent Involvement Focus
Group in Toronto and is part of the Parent Network with People for Education,
participating in their annual conference featuring workshops on how to best
serve First Nations students. Anelia has a passion for youth and celebrates a
positive school community through frequent contributions to the local
newspaper. Anelia is married with four children, is bilingual (English and
Rumanian) and is active in the Children's Program at her Church.

    Margo Cowie, Toronto (GTA Region)

    Margo is currently completing her two-year term as the inaugural co-chair
of the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee at the Toronto District School
Board. With two children in secondary school, Margo has had diverse
opportunities to support parent involvement and student success throughout the
system. This includes, but is not limited to, several years of service on
school councils. Committed to successful parent partnerships, she is a
certified adult educator and mediator who believes in effective communication,
transparency and accountability. Connie Howe-Buckler, Maidstone (Southwestern
Region) Connie has amassed eighteen years of experience serving in classrooms,
on school councils and on board level committees. As an active member of the
local School Council Chairs Network Executive, Connie served as Workshop
Coordinator during the 2004-05 year. Connie has helped to produce and present
programs to assist school councils within her board. Connie's board committee
experience includes the Parent Involvement Funding Committee, the
Extra-Curricular Policy Committee and the Secondary Task Force.

    Craig Hurst, Horseshoe Valley (Central Region)

    Craig has over eight years of experience in school council activities. He
has served as a School Board Trustee and on a number of Board committees
including Strategic Planning, Special Education Advisory, Native Education
Advisory and Secondary School Principals Selection. An international business
executive and communicator, and an active father of two high school students;
he is also involved with coaching Ontario Special Olympics and volunteers on
the boards of many health care and social services agencies.

    Richard McAllister, Welland (Central Region)

    Richard has over thirteen years experience serving on elementary,
secondary and regional school councils. He chaired the Annual Chairs Meeting
Committee and was instrumental in forging partnerships with local churches and
schools for various functions geared at involving parents. Richard is also a
board member of the Niagara Youth Orchestra and is involved with their
community outreach committee.

    Jim McGrorey, Whitby (GTA Region)

    Jim has over seven years of experience serving on school council and
school committees. He sits at the working table for Teacher Performance
Appraisal at the Ministry of Education and serves on a number of committees
including the Special Education Advisory Committee and Ontario Association for
Parents in Catholic Education.

    Pauline (Pinky) McRae, Marathon (Northwestern Region)

    Pauline has over twelve years of experience serving on school council, in
both English Public and French Catholic schools. She is involved in a number
of committees including the Parent Involvement Policy Committee. Pauline is
bilingual (English and French) and is active in the Marathon Girls Hockey Club
and Hemlo Gold Mine's Golduster Recreation Club.

    Sylvia Menezes, Scarborough (GTA Region)

    Sylvia has over ten years of experience serving on school council and
school committees at the Toronto Catholic District School Board and parent
organizations. She is a founding member of the Parent Coalition for Safe
Schools for parents who participate on school and board-wide committees in
Public, Catholic and Private schools to share information and provide support
and advice. Sylvia is actively involved in her local community attempting to
bridge the gap between school communities and the political process.

    Robert Morais, Kemptville (Eastern Region)

    Robert has over seven years of experience serving on school councils. He
is a businessman who currently sits on the Board of The Ottawa Network, which
is a grass roots, community organization supporting entrepreneurs in the
Ottawa hi-tech community. Robert is bilingual (English and French) and has
been a member of a number of committees and community groups including the
Ottawa United Way Campaign Cabinet.

    Frederic Nzeyimana, Scarborough (GTA Region)

    Frederic has fulfilled over one year of service on school council and has
two years experience working with Parents Partenaires en Education. Frederic
is trilingual (English, French and Kirundi), and authored a manual designed to
strengthen the involvement of newcomer parents in their children's education.
Frederic has a history of commitment to multicultural communities and is
active in participating in a number of outreach projects within the
francophone community.

    Suzanne Rochon, Corbeil (Northeastern Region)

    Suzanne currently sits on three school councils. She is bilingual
(English and French) and is active with the Social Planning Council, currently
working on a Kids and Community Project as a means of enhancing children's
transition from home to school. She also works with families to improve their
quality of life as the WrapAround Coordinator with Algonquin Child and Family

    Kim Skidmore, Cochrane (Northeastern Region)

    Kim has over fifteen years of experience serving on school councils and
organizations at the local and board level. She co-founded the local Breakfast
Program and acted as a Sunday School Superintendent for four years. Kim was
actively involved with the minor soccer league as convenor and coach. Her
career with the Infant Development Program has provided her with extensive
experience with First Nations communities.

    Linda Steel, London (Southwestern Region)

    Linda has over twelve years of experience serving on school council and
is the current London District Catholic School Council Chair. She has served
on a number of committees including the Parent Outreach Committee and the
Special Education Advisory Committee as the representative for the Association
for Bright Children. She is very involved in safety/anti-violence issues,
chairs the Internet Safety Task Force and is Vice-Chair of the City of
London's Community Safety & Crime Prevention Committee.

    Candi Wall, Dryden (Northwestern Region)

    Candi has over six years of experience serving on school and area
council. She has served on numerous school and advisory committees, including
the planning committee for the System Council Training Day bringing parents,
educators, trustees and board staff together to learn about school council,
different programs and opportunities. Candi is beginning her 15th year of
teaching piano in area schools - a unique opportunity that allows her to be
very much involved in school life.

    Disponible en français


For further information:

For further information: Michelle Despault, Minister's Office, (416)
212-3747; Patricia MacNeil, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2676; Public
Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892

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