An early childhood educator at a downtown elementary school believes she is being bullied by a colleague.
Emily Wright works at Orde Street Public School near College Street and University Avenue. She claims to have received seven notes in the last year containing threats and taunts.
Wright says the most recent incident happened right after she organized an assembly for Pink Shirt Day, a day meant to promote anti-bullying awareness.
Wright says a typed note reading: “YOUR ASSEMBLY SUCKED JUST AS MUCH AS YOU DO. NO ONE LIKES YOU NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY” was left on her desk.
“I put in a lot of extra hours and tried to make an assembly for the whole school so everyone could benefit on Pink Shirt Day,” Wright said. “And the next morning when I came to school I had a note from somebody else who worked in the school stating that my assembly sucked as much as I did.”
Wright believes the notes are being left by a co-worker and not a student because of the language and content in them.
“I know it’s a colleague because the information that is being put into the notes is information that children of this age would not be reading. For example I was published in Toronto Life magazine and that article was mentioned within one of the notes. I know that the language that’s used…it’s not coming from a member of my school that is a child.”
Wright says she began getting the notes in December 2015 and believes her service dog, which she has for anxiety and diabetes, may be what started them.
“Last year those notes revolved mostly around my service animal and why did I think I had the right to bring a service animal to school.”
Wright says some of the messages also threatened the safety of her dog, Kalie. “They turned into threats and escalated to ‘there’s many ways to poison a dog.’ ”
Wright posted a picture of another note to Facebook that reads: “HAVE YOU NOT GOTTEN THE HINT YET? NO ONE LIKES YOU. WE WANT YOU AND YOUR DOG TO LEAVE.”
The school’s principal, Michael Walkington, described the situation as disappointing.
“It sort of really tugs on my heart,” he said. “We deal with children all the time and we want to model the best environment that we can have so that they can be the most productive in their education at school and to have a situation like that is very discouraging, very disappointing.”
The Toronto District School Board says it has launched an investigation into the messages but hasn’t been able to determine who is responsible for them yet. In the meantime, Wright says she is using the experience to help draw attention to the importance of speaking out against bullying.
“I preached at my bullying assembly about not being a bystander, being up-standers and it’s time for me to do the same. I want to practice what I preach and I’m going to be an up-stander and I’m going to start talking about what’s going on.”