DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: On Thursday, May 13th, students and local residents protested an alleged decision, by the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB), to put an I.E. Weldon Secondary School teacher on leave.
Allegedly, students say Greer Pedoe was put on a leave of absence. A board investigation was started after he discussed his previous mental health struggles during a class lesson.
“I had a friend in the class he was teaching, and their parents are super close with mine, and their mom mentioned it to mine, who relayed the information to me. I talked to some other people about it. I was not only appalled, because I took that course a few years ago, and knowing what content made the administration look at his class and put him on administrative leave, but also because it was mental health stigma [which] caused that [to happen]. I felt that was really wrong, based on the previous actions by the school, with them supporting Mental Health Week and paying for students to get mental health training,” protest organizer Rebekah Stoddart told The Standard.
The protest saw students and residents march from I.E. Weldon Secondary School to the TLDSB board office.
“There were about 15 people there. Considering we were under a stay-at-home order, and it was the middle of the day on a workday, I felt it was a pretty good turnout,” Ms. Stoddart said.
Ms. Stoddart was one of the students Mr. Pedoe had a positive impact on.
“He’s been a really important teacher and mentor to me. He taught all four of my older siblings over their time at Weldon as well. He was actually my first teacher on my first day of high school, which was a pretty nerve-wracking day for me. I went through a pretty rough time during Grade 10. The influence he had on me [during that time] and the understanding he gave to me as a teacher made me realize I want to be a teacher too. Not only because I like teaching people how to do things, but also because I want to be able to affect young people in the same way this amazing teacher has affected me,” she explained.
The TLDSB stated they would not be commenting on the matter, citing they “maintain strict confidentiality on all matters pertaining directly or indirectly” to their students or staff. However, board communications did note the TLDSB “believes strongly in supporting the mental health and well-being of our students and staff,” and their “work to support mental health is aligned with School Mental Health Ontario.”
The students are hopeful this protest and a letter-writing campaign will get Mr. Pedoe reinstated. There is also a petition at www.change.org called ‘Students, Parents and Community Members in Support of Mr. Pedoe IE Weldon SS.’