Wellesworth School Reunion: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Wellesworth Junior School

The past makes some people shudder, evoking feelings of unease.  School reunions brings this out even more.  But I do not have any foreboding for my future get together, in fact I am looking forward to it.  After all, I will be escorted by the most beautiful wife in the world.

Next month, on Saturday, October 15, 2011, Wellesworth Junior School in Etobicoke will be hosting its 50th Anniversary Reunion.  And I found out my grade three teacher is still alive and will hopefully be present.  It would be wonderful to see her again.

My kindergarten to grade two years were at a different school that I do not have many memories of.  Switching to Wellesworth for grade three landed me in Mrs. Eleanor Thomson’s class.  And an adventure of good and bad continued, nay, became very formative of my life.

Entering her class, I was already a troubled student.  From math to social skills to what they call “fine and gross motor co-ordination”, I was a fine mess.  Fine co-ordination means I had problems doing things with my hands, like catching, well, anything.  Gross co-ordination means I didn’t know how to ride a bike and skip rope.  Catching I conquered (sometimes) and bike riding in grade four.  Stopping and turning the bike in grade five.  The only academic area I seemed to do well in was reading.  Which I did a lot of.

Mrs. Thomson was a wonderfully nice teacher is so many many ways, but unfortunately she also added another batch of problems to the mix.  Context is needed here.  I first entered her classroom in 1979 and she was already old at that time.  Stories of her World War II years as a nurse were famous.  She always seemed ancient and powerful.  Yoda without the verbal flip flops.  But the eternal baggage she carried infiltrated her ways.

She thought lefties were abnormal, evil, profane, mutants, freaks, er, you get the idea.

This issue had to be resolved.  So she forcibly converted me to a righty.  Much to my mothers objection.  My normally barely legible printing became almost totally incomprehensible.  Also, my hand began lurching at a weird angle, smushing my pencil marks on the page into a blackened mess.  Many years later, my handwriting finally rebounded.

Switching hands also mucked up my brain chemistry somewhat (at least, that’s the current theory).  Stuttering was another difficulty I had to contend with when entering Wellesworth, but this change of writing hands upped the ante considerably.  Talking even a bit would set off my stammer almost consistently.  By the end of grade eight it had finally subsided, only to reoccur briefly at the start of college.

The oh so fun combination of stuttering and physical clumsiness resulted in multiple school yard taunts and fights.  Trips to the Principal’s office were almost a weekly occurrence.  It one time it was twice in one day.  Over the years I found out that the majority of these bullies went nowhere fast in life, becoming jokes in their futures.

Despite these issues, I do not blame Mrs. Thomson for any of this.  She, quite simply, did not know she was contributing to my distress.  She worked hard to help me overcome so many other problems, and for that I am eternally grateful.  And something else she did, she was the first total maverick of a teacher I had ever met.

We never sat in same place in class.  A fascinating wheel on a display told us our designated place, a device that plunked us students into a different seat everyday.  Some days it was good, others not so much, but still different.  A school board trip became a weekly adventure.  Mrs. Thomson wanted to demystify what the school board was to us, so three students a week were given a tour of the board offices and lunch in the cafeteria.  Everyone knew us on these tours as her students, which pleased us to no end.  And the board caf had great jello.

When I inevitably had to repeat grade three, it was comforting to know I was in her class again.  I thrived more the second time around under her guidance.  Confidence, from her hugs when needed, her strictness when required, helped me along.  My time part of the week at a special school also worked wonders.

Grade four had me encounter an awful teacher, best forgotten, but grade five led me to Mrs. Ivens.  Her gentle, caring, motherly spirit was a blessing for me.  We also thought it was so cool that Mrs. Ivens was expecting her first child that year.  It was a girl and she was beautiful.

Some people have asked me why, with all the pain and hardship I suffered as a child, am I so excited for this gathering?  Well, because, I survived.  I can ride a bike.  I can write normally. I don’t stutter anymore.  I have read a million books.  And I have friends (some going back to Wellesworth).  As the current anti-bullying campaign says, It Gets Better.  Not all of my memories are bad.  I look forward to seeing who shows up and rekindling old friendships.  Seeing Mrs. Thomson and Mrs. Ivens again would make my day.  Seeing her now grown daughter again would be fun (I saw her years ago someplace and she was almost my height!).

Flashing back this far has been memorable for me.  Seeing my existence then and now, I am proud of myself today.  Fours years of my life were spent wandering the halls (and library!) of Wellesworth Junior School, years I am very happy about.

And I can’t wait to share the happiness with my former classmates and teachers.  The joy shall be contagious!


P.S.  Wellesworth Junior School is holding its 50th Anniversary Reunion on Saturday October 15, 2011.  It will be open from 1 to 4 pm with a special presentation at 2pm.  The reunion is informal and the school requests any pictures or memorabilia for display be sent to the following:
Wellesworth Junior School, 225 Wellesworth Drive, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9C 4S5


About scoopsmentalpropaganda

Married to beautiful wife. Always learning a ton of stuff. Geek with too much useless knowledge. fb page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Scoops-Mental-Propaganda/192314550819647 twitter & twitpic: Scoopriches AboutMe Page: http://about.me/paulriches This site is an @Scoopriches production
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5 Responses to Wellesworth School Reunion: Looking Back, Moving Forward

  1. Vanessa says:

    Great post Paul!!

  2. Lori Ryan says:

    I was sorry to miss this reunion. I went to Wellesworth Public School from Kindergarten to Grade 5 and loved that school so much. I can’t find a lot online of what became of many of the teachers as they do not have a webpage. What awesome memories I have from my youngest years of school.
    Thanks for this lil write up so much!

    • Hello Lori! Thanks for the kind words. What years were you at Wellesworth? I was their in the late 70’s to 80’s, and had Mrs Thompson and Mrs Ivens as teachers. Saw them both at the anniversary. If you contact the school, they might still have some of the anniversary dvd’s available.

  3. Ronnie not Ron says:

    Mrs Ivens was wonderful and sweet. Thompson, on the other hand, was a terrible hag! I disliked her back in 1976 and now, as an adult with with a graduate degree, I think her methods were awful.

  4. Brian says:

    .I feel very fortunate to come across this site! I even had to pause for a moment and read about the comment on Mrs. Thompson. I was even more astonished that in 2011 she was still alive. I am thankful I didn’t attend that 50 year anniversary as I would have given that woman a piece of my mind. She has emotionally scarred me with her cold and overwhelming negative teaching back in 1975. Yes Mrs. Thompson, I was a 8 year old who had little in defending himself to your relentless bitch attitude. I started late in September as my family moved to Etobicoke and I think from the onset she had in her soul to make my life a living hell. Though I have little proof of this notion that as her being very much pro-British and who did claim to have lived through the War my German background (though I am born and raised as a proud Canadian) she seemed she couldn’t let go of what history did – how could you put that anger towards a 8 year old, defenceless and at your mercy which you showed little of, she made everyday an ordeal. How do you frightened a child to the point he develops panic attacks. Even today – my blood pressure rises thinking of such a crass and uncaring woman. She failed so many during my years at Wellesworth and even held me back. Mrs. Thompson must of had a exemplary record of failing students! Maybe it was her teaching style over students no comprehending her teaching methods. How did the Etobicoke Board of Education not get flagged by the number of students being held back. I was one of the lucky ones who actually within 3-4 weeks was actually placed back in Grade 2 for a somewhat refresher and I thank the heavens that in Grade 3 I had another teacher. This woman as Ronnie noted above actually made me feel like a failure – Well Mrs. Thompson, If you are still alive, I am eager to say that I am a successful businessman who operates 2 offices and with plans of expanding to a 3rd office with a handful of employees. I have a wonderful wife and family and I feel for any student who is victimized by a teacher who shows no compassion or understanding. You will and always be the one sad mark in my life when I was younger. YOU Mrs. Thompson didn’t stop me from succeeding – you should have nothing to be proud of –

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