Retiring educator leaves ‘lasting, indelible legacy’

An educator who has had a “profound effect” in his many roles at York Region District School Board (YRDSB) and on the public education system over a 42-year career will retire this fall.

Associate Director of Equitable Outcomes and Schools Cecil Roach joined YRDSB in 1999 as an administrator and “has always been guided by the belief that public education is democracy’s foundation and that schools are places where students, regardless of their social identity, have equal opportunity to realize dreams,” the Board reports.

Roach immigrated to Canada from Montserrat, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, in his early teens. He launched his career teaching English in Quebec and moved to Ontario in 1989, where he taught at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in East York before becoming an administrator in 1995.

In his years with YRDSB, Roach served as Vice Principal, Principal, Student Success Principal, Special Assistant to the Director, Superintendent of Schools, Superintendent of Inclusivity and Community Services, Coordinating Superintendent of Equity and Community Services, Coordinating Superintendent of Indigenous Education and Equity, and Acting Associate Director of Education, Equitable Outcomes and Schools.

“Associate Director Roach has played a vital role in leading the equity and inclusivity work of YRDSB over the past 12 years,” Board Chair Ron Lynn says. “Cecil has in-depth knowledge in working with complex equity issues and has been a strong voice for equity and inclusivity work. His contributions will leave a lasting and indelible legacy.”

Roach’s long list of achievements includes founding the Equity Strategy, Steering and Action Committee and co-founding the Alliance of Educators for Black Students. He led the implementation of YRDSB’s Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy and the creation of the YRDSB Centre for Black Student Excellence.

Provincially, Roach served on the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association’s Equity Committee. He was an instructor with Ontario Principals’ Council’s Supervisory Officer Qualification program and many of his mentees are now following in his footsteps as superintendents.

Roach has earned numerous awards, including African Canadian Achievement Award in 2015 for Excellence in Education and the 2019 Urban Alliance Award for Race Relations and Education. He has lent his expertise to numerous community organizations, including the York Region Immigration Partnership Council and Markham African Caribbean Canadian Association.

Roach’s retirement is effective September 29. “I have seen firsthand the profound effect Cecil’s work has had on countless youth at YRDSB,” Director of Education (Interim) Scott Yake says. “One cannot overstate the immeasurable contributions that Mr. Roach has made during his tenure at YRDSB. He will be missed and we wish him all the best in retirement.”

Photo: Associate Director Cecil Roach is set to retire on September 29.

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