Weldon teacher gets support from students in protest

By William McGinn

Greer Pedoe, an I.E. Weldon Secondary School teacher who headed classes in coding, Japanese, and careers, has been put on administrative leave with the potential to be fired after allegedly discussing personal mental health problems he had in the past.

Just how he discussed those problems is unclear, given that Trillium Lakelands School Board, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, and principals of the school declined to comment.

The Advocate was told that multiple parents sent out complaints to the school board. However, numerous former students of Pedoe have expressed solidarity with the teacher online and are fighting to keep him employed — and some of them did so with a protest this morning that began at Weldon and them moved to the Trillium Lakelands District School Board office.

Abigayle Stoddart, a former student of Pedoe’s, said she knows he often brings up how, in his first career, he went through a serious depression and considered suicide, but was able to get better. “He discussed this in numerous classes to show students that they are not alone, it is possible to pull yourself up, and that it is never too late to switch careers if you are unhappy.”

Rebekah Stoddart, Abigayle’s sister and the main organizer of the protest, who is set to graduate from Weldon this year, said Pedoe inspired her to not only go into teaching but be the same sort of teacher as him. “Mr. Pedoe is the reason I’m going…to teacher’s college at the end of my degree, because he affected me in such a big way.”

She said it’s frustrating to think that one day “I’m going to teach eventually and the public school system might still be this way when I get there.”

Silvia Stoddart, mother of Abigayle and Rebekah, was part of the protest too and said to the Advocate all her kids had Pedoe for a teacher at some point, and her youngest son Harrison, “would spend every lunch in his classroom.”

“It was always open for anyone who wanted to come in who had nowhere to go. Harrison always felt so much better after those classes because Mr. Pedoe always had a kind word or joke.”

Julia Drew, a protestor who was in a second-year Japanese class of his and also peer tutored for him said Pedoe “was the only reason I ever showed up to class, and I am a person who suffers from mental health, so it’s personal.”

She said in one of his tech classes, “we had to make an algorithm to make a sandwich, and he took that quite literally. When someone made a mistake, he’d drop a piece of bread on the floor. He always knew how to bring a smile to everyone’s face.”

Lauren Piwek, one of the organizers alongside Rebekah who had him for careers and Japanese, said, “I was visibly shaken up just knowing the amount of people that have been touched by his words and reassurances there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

There is a petition to support Pedoe, who has been teaching at Weldon since 2009. In the last two days, it has gotten over 1,000 signatures.

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