Tuesday, February 7, 2012


“Twillingate Island Elementary has always been proud to provide a safe and caring
environment for all students and we continue
to have this as our number one priority.
If you have any further concerns regarding
this matter or any matter regarding your child,
please don’t hesitate to call us at the school.”

 Principal David K. Dove
and vice-principal Tonia Gillard


Why did it take a sensational news story about the incident at Twillingate Island Elementary for the leadership at the school, and the board to issue a letter of apology?

The mother of the ten-year-old boy says she began seeking answers and an apology as soon as the Febrez incident occurred. She said the teach hung-up on her, rather than apologize. Yesterday, she met with the principle and no apology was offered. She complained to the board and no apology was made.

Now, in the wake of a international media storm, the little hierarchy in the staff room at  Twillingate Island Elementary has been forced to concede what little common sense was illustrated by a fellow member of the staff.

All of this might have been avoided with a little apology and some communication last week, but that was not going to happen because of the elitist "teachers know best" syndrome that exists in many smaller community schools. This is as much about class as it is about punishment. That could only be complicated by the fact that the principal, and the teacher in question, are siblings.

Instead, the apology looks forced and the entire world has heard of the Febreze spraying teacher who sprayed a kid for smelling like fish in a province known for it's fish!

Imagine if Alberta schools started spraying farmers children with Febreze because they smelled like dairy farms!

The buck should not stop with the teacher.

The administration must be accountable as well.

Dismissing legitimate concerns is a stupid way to manage a school.


dylan said...

I think this was handled wrong by everyone involved. First, yes, the teacher should not have sprayed the child with anything. Yes, the school should have issued an apology.

But, the mother did the wrong thing too. Not only for phoning the teacher personally but going to the media.

The mother made matters worse by going public and contacting the media. Very stupid. You are supposed to protect your child, not get media attention about how your child smelled like fish. Now she is in the media, the child's name is in the media and his picture is up on the CBC site.

It seems like everyone handled this poorly and the one that suffers the most is the child. He will always be remember at school now for this incident.

Stupid on both sides.

Peter L. Whittle said...

I just finished having this same discussion with my wife and a friend. They share your point of view. I think the whole thing was blown out of proportion but what was the mother to do. It was obvious that her concerns were not being taken seriously at the school level where this should have remained.

Had she not gone to the media, it may still be unresolved because what teacher with a masters is going to admit she was wrong to some lower class person. Honestly, this comes down class conflict.

She may have made it worse in what sense. The province and the country now know what every one in twillingate knew last week. In the community where the kid lives, his whole world the embarrassment was already present. He had been embarrassed and teased and bullied. How does the news change anything?

I would argue that she did what was in the best interest of her son considering the lack of real seriousness in which this was being dealt with. The apologies and concern are the result of her action. They are not bourne out of any real regret. It is damage control time. All preventable. This goes back to one person, the adminstrater who failed the school, the student and the teacher

Anonymous said...

Completely blown out of proportion. The mother should never have fried the fish for lunch. She set him up to be teased. Poor bugger. Social Services should be called in, why not just tape a kick me sign onto the poor little buggers back?

Anonymous said...

This comment from the Huffington Post - of all places - sums it all up for me:

"Teased and humilated children do not forget those fellings easily. I would be furious if I were his mother as well. In fact I am furious and I don't even know these people. That teacher should be publicly ridiculed. This is a mother who is actually taking the time to cook a meal for her children over lunch break instead of sending them off with some pre-packag­ed garbage and now this child will probably be afraid to eat or even be around any food with an odour ever again for fear of being ridiculed and teased by all his classmates­. Everybody knows how mean children can be to each other, we were all there at one time. These are not the kind of teachers that should be in elementary schools, Maybe this would be okay in a college or university setting but not around young children"

The Huffington Post...crazy out of control. Great for tourism, this backward spot we projected

Anonymous said...

There is a much better way people....feed you children artificial fast food like Mary Browns or Macdonalds or the local take-out. natural unprocesse­d food is deemed to be "smelly"? Hello, it's friggin fish. This is not only about complainin­g a child smells like food, this is about spraying it with a toxic deodorant not meant for a living being, but for lifeless objects.

The teacher should have looked at the other kids and told them to "knock it off" He or she could have then quietly called the mother after hours and explained that fried fish was not a good lunch to serve her child because the odour clung to the kids clothes and the other students were teasing him.

Anonymous said...

I don't think mom publicizin­g this helped the child. Better to work cooperativ­ely with the teacher and deal with the odor issue.

With this publicity, the child will be remembered for the rest of his life as 'stinky'.

Thanks mom. loves you too

Anonymous said...

Principal should be suspended as well, I hope this teacher is a young one cause she will need to teach elswhere

Wm. Murphy said...

congratulations to the mother...her effots have made this story viral across the country.It has reached the most popular list on Yahoo.ca and with over 9000+ CBC votes on a news poll

While we all discuss whether the actions of the teacher were appropriate we now have the child scarred for life in his community.

Well done Mom....you are a moron. You ceratinly showed the teacher to never mess around with a moron

Anonymous said...

We will continue to disagree..the admin should have handled this issue better and it would never have been escalate.

It sure is a huge mess!

Anonymous said...

"The mother should never have fried the fish for lunch"

It may surprise many but this might be all they had. not saying its the case here but saying she should never have fried fish without knowing the underlying reason is unhelpful. Maybe the kid likes this meal.

If I were in her position before i went to the media I would have said "you'll be hearing from my lawyer for abuse" and I have no doubt that would have got someone off their a** to ensure this gotten handles properly. As it is the teacher acted very unprofessionally, the administration handled it poorly and it's the child who is left to suffer.

fisherman's girl said...

It is not the teacher's fault, it isn't the mom's fault. Lay the blame where it belongs..with the kids involved, make them accountable for their actions. This young boy is the innocent victim. The teacher erred in how she handled the immediate situation, she could have consulted another member of the teaching/administrative staff. I am sure in hindsight the teacher would have offered any apology and addressed bullying with the class. I fail to see how the mother of this young boy was wrong in being proactive. I am fairly confident this won't happen to your child tomorrow or anytime soon. The lesson to be learned is not the smell, is it? NO, the lesson is bullying and how it's dealt with.

Anonymous said...

I think the whole thing was blown out of proportion, but only because of the school administration avoiding an apology. I don't think this boy is scarred for life. If anything, he probably feels secure in knowing his family is there for him. I am willing to bet he will grow up to be a stable, solid, successful young man, and will some day look back on this and laugh. Too often, mothers who advocate for their children in regard to school issues are labelled as neurotic. Good for Mrs. Rideout for going to bat for her son and protecting him.

Anonymous said...

Several posters are of the opinion that this was handled improperly by all parties, and I can't help but agree.

First, the teacher in her efforts to help the kid out, may have exacerbated the situation by her actions. Perhaps there was a lost opportunity here for the teacher to explain to the class that picking on this kid is not appropriate, and that at one time, it was a common practice for people in rural Newfoundland to eat fish (for crying out loud).

Second, the principal and administration handled the entire thing poorly by not arranging a meeting with the mother to attempt to diffuse the situation.

third, the mother as one poster stated acted like a moron. Rather than try and approach this in a sensible manner, she decide to create a $hit storm, while her child ended up as collateral damage. This women most likely immediately flew off the handle, demanding her pound of flesh rather than try to get the facts and go from there.