They’ve got you, babe

Riley has the best teachers in his corner — and it brings back memories for his dad

Riley Hunt on his first day of Grade 4. Photo Credit Angela Jacques


When I was in junior high, my teachers frequently told my parents how bright I was. My teachers were either very wrong or I was the dumbest smart kid that’s ever lived.

As my time in junior high school came to a close, I had to choose between attending one of two high schools. One was arguably the best in the region and the other had a reputation of being one of the worst.

The good school was on the cusp of my school boundary, however due to my grades I was told I had an assured spot.

I had family who went to the nefarious school and they told me stories of drug use and gangs, of savage fights on school property and brutal bullying. 

Given the choice between this school and the one with the sterling reputation, I chose to go to the perilous school. Because that’s where my friends were going and, if I’m being honest, because the classes were sure to be easier.

That’s what mattered to me at the time. Friends and a life of ease was what it was to be for me.

My teachers had other ideas. They reached out to my parents and had them decide for me.

I was fortunate that I had teachers who recognized I had the potential to be more than what I aimed to be and when I found out they interfered with my wishes I was furious with both them and my parents.

That’s the thing about kids though. Even the allegedly smart ones can be incredibly stupid.  And that’s why it’s important to have strong teachers who fight for what’s best for their students. 

My son Riley didn’t really enjoy his summer last year. We had moved outside his school’s boundary, and while they let him finish the year, we had to apply for a cross-boundary transfer for the the following year. He spent the summer worrying he’d have to go to a new school.

As did his mother and I.

My son has some severe learning difficulties and his teachers have been nothing short of amazing in helping him through his struggles.

They’ve developed a specialized learning plan but also keep us in the loop on how he’s progressing and offering strategies on how we can help him at home.

And they are also honest with us. You see, learning difficulties are only part of the problem.  He also tends to be lazy. And his teachers don’t let him. They push him pretty hard. And he hates it.

He didn’t put enough effort into his work? Do it again. Writing in the journal not legible? Do it again.  Math is correct but didn’t show your work? You lose marks. And then you do it again. Didn’t finish his work in class? Guess what’s going home with you.
He’s since flourished. His reading has jumped multiple levels and his writing has improved considerably. And he tends to do the work properly the first time now, as he realizes putting more effort into something once saves him time in the long run.

In short, they push him because they know he is capable of more. And they’ll do the same next year.

It’s possible this time next year he may wish his transfer was rejected, but one day he’ll appreciate how hard his teachers advocated for him. Hopefully.