Thank You Mr. Milligan: A Bright Light With the Thames Valley School Board


Evelina Silveira, President Diversity At Work

So often we hear how the school system is failing to keep our children safe.  How bullying seems to be on the rise and the labour strife between the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario and the Government of Ontario doesn’t seem to want to budge.

But amid the turmoil, is a shining light at the Thames Valley District School Board — a principal who takes his job seriously when it comes to children’s safety and inclusive education.

Mr. Colin Milligan of Princess Anne French Immersion School in London, has put the “pal” back into the word “principal” with his kind but firm and professional approach to dealing with both parents and students.

He heads a large elementary school with a cross-section of  diverse children from South London and beyond.

When a group of dispondent Grade 7 children came to visit him expressing their disappointment with the withdrawal of extra-curricular activities, he listened.  Others may have turned the children away, but he decided that they would problem solve together.  They surveyed their fellow students and came up with some ideas of what they could do.  They were involved in an assembly and collaborated on a video on the theme of “Words are Powerful” and that was just the beginning!

Mr. Milligan takes bullying seriously, and he doesn’t need a school policy to tell him it is wrong.  He doesn’t tolerate it.  Not because he has to.  Because he wants to and it comes from his heart.

My daughter spends a lot of time in the principal’s office and so do her friends.  Not because they are in trouble, but because they like him and they want to work with him to build the best school possible. Their education has been enriched by the projects, teamwork and nurtured friendships.  When I get a call from the school principal, it’s a good thing.

(In my day, going to the principal’s office to talk about a problem was unthinkable.  You might as well suffer in silence until graduation because they acted more like sergeants than role models. Change is good).

Thank you also to Madame Wilkie the school’s Vice Principal who is also another empathetic ear, a real gem and a great role model for the students.

Merci Madame et Monsieur pour ton bon travail.  Felicitations!

Bullying and Peer Pressure: Lessons From the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario


With all the anti-bullying lessons going on in school these days, it seems that some of the members of the ETFO must have skipped out on the education. Or worse, listened but did not feel that anti-bullying applied to them.

Okay, I understand. You feel that you have been betrayed. I get that. However, please accept my apology. I don’t sympathize. Everyday in my work, I see many examples of people who do not receive a decent wage, who have to take work home at night so that they can stay on top of their job just to keep it. I see families working two and three jobs to put food on the table with no hope of ever having a two month vacation and benefits and more. They don’t get to go home at 4:00. When they are sick and cannot go to work, their families don’t eat. These my friend, are real grievances, and your lobbying power and skills could be best put to use to protect these hard-working individuals who are drowning in this recession with no voice, instead of getting in the way of good dedicated teachers doing their job. On top of it, the people who will suffer the most with these flash strikes and withdrawal of extra-curricular activities are those families who are struggling to stay afloat and cannot afford the sports, the dance and other lessons. Who is supposed to look after the children whose parents will lose their wages or worst yet their jobs if they cannot show up for work? How many children will be left neglected, unattended or in an unsafe environment, because their parent has to go to work or they risk losing their job? A friend told me that her child would be graduating this year and it will cost each family $500 per child, because the teachers have been told that they are not permitted to hand out fundraising information. No fundraising will be allowed. With this approach there could be lots of students unable to take part because their parents cannot afford $500.00. These are painful choices and the ETFO says it has the children’s best interest in mind? How is that so?

Stop the bullying and the peer pressure! I am talking about the Watch Dogs hanging outside the schools, making sure that teachers don’t stay after hours. It’s the people who follow teachers to their cars, intimidating them because they have stayed to talk to a concerned parent. I have heard of several examples of teachers feeling afraid of the consequences of doing anything outside of what these Watch Dogs have demanded. They fear isolation from other teachers who are supporting the Union’s demands and potential retaliation that can occur when members side against them. In any other organization, these  coercive tactics would not be permitted. I’m confused.  The ETFO speaks about its democratic right, but don’t these teachers who just want to go ahead with their usual business have democractic rights as well?

In this case, we have learned : bullies are untouchable and that peer pressure wins.

Thank you for a lesson on bullying and peer pressure!

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