Dear Rideau High School….

I’ve been a teacher for more than four years now. I’ve spent time in dozens of schools in the Ottawa region. Wonderful schools full of amazing students and teachers. They all hold a special place in my heart. But my life completely transformed when I entered Rideau High School for the first time.

In February of 2016, I walked into a school much like any other on the surface, but I could sense a different sort of energy hidden inside the walls. I accepted a long-term position to teach Science and Physical Education, and three days into my gig, I lost my mom. It felt entirely surreal emailing the admin team and fellow teachers in my departments when I hardly knew any of them, sharing something so personal and so tragic. I took the remainder of that week off, and the next week as well. I just couldn’t go back. I wasn’t ready, and in a tearful phone conversation, I relayed that information to one of the Vice Principals (now Principal). He insisted everything was fine in my absence and told me to take all the time I needed.

When I was finally ready to return to Rideau, I was overwhelmed by the support from my colleagues. Everyone signed a sympathy card for me, names I didn’t even recognize at the time. Sometimes I’d be standing in the photocopy room, and I’d just start talking to whoever was there about my mom. I needed to get it all out. And no matter who was on the receiving end of my emoting, I always got the same response: Love, compassion, understanding. CARE.

That is Rideau. Every person in this building cares. And that’s why my heart is breaking right now because it was decided last night, in a 7-5 vote, that Rideau High School will close after this semester. The closure is due to various reasons I won’t get into. I know it was a very difficult decision the board has taken many months to reach. Most of us could already see this coming, but we just didn’t want to believe it. Today, the potential closure is a reality, and it feels a lot like mourning all over again.

When you’re at Rideau, you’re family. This school gets under your skin, as do the students–in every possible way. This school changes you. It makes you stronger. Through the trials and the triumphs of day-to-day challenges, you learn the true meaning of courage, to fight for what matters, to push yourself, and to be a good person. This school doesn’t simply embrace difference, it celebrates it. You can be your best self here. You can shine. We may be a small school, but we’re GIANTS when it comes to our commitment to student success, to community involvement, and to our cohesiveness as a whole.

Rideau will remain open until the end of this semester. I know without a doubt that all the staff here will make these remaining months as smooth and positive as possible for our students, and the transition to Gloucester High School as seamless as it can be. If we have to go out, we’ll go out with a bang, the Rideau Rams way!

I’m not sure where my teaching adventures will take me next, but one thing is certain: Rideau will always remain with me. I’ll have the heart of a RAM beating strongly inside me, and I will never, ever forget this experience and the countless rewards I’ve reaped from Rideau High School. Thank you for everything.

Eternally grateful,

Rideau High School Teacher


11 thoughts on “Dear Rideau High School….”

  1. Michelle Kelly says:

    That was beautiful and so very sad. I hate hearing about school closures and especially that school. I hope the students and teachers will find good placements in their new homes. You most of all. (hugs)

    1. Julie Evelyn Joyce says:

      I never thought I’d get so emotional about it, but I’ve never felt more at home than I do here at Rideau. It’s a very sad day for all of us. *hugs* Thanks for the love and support!

      1. Deborah says:


  2. Laurie says:

    Awww. I’m sorry about hearing that it is official and the school will in fact close. I’m sure you had as much of an impact on them as they did on you.

    1. Julie Evelyn Joyce says:

      Thank you. I just wish we could all stick together, but I know that won’t happen. Things will be different in the new school year, so we’ll have to make the most of it. πŸ™‚

  3. Carol says:

    What sad news. I’m so sorry you and all of the other students and staff are having to cope with this upheaval in your lives. It’s true you’ll all have wonderful memories but that doesn’t help when you feel adrift and searching for a new place to call home. The one thing I know for certain is that the next school you land at will be very lucky indeed. Wishing you all the best!

    1. Julie Evelyn Joyce says:

      It was a tough day for everyone, but we all pulled together to help each other through it. I know the same will happen when the new school year begins. It’s just sad. πŸ™ Thanks for the best wishes!

  4. Margaret Ethridge says:

    I love them for being so good to my girl when she needed it most. Hope the teachers and staff are all placed in schools they can help make just as special as Rideau!

    1. Julie Evelyn Joyce says:

      πŸ™‚ Thanks, Mags! I know they’ll be able to spread the Rideau magic wherever they go.

  5. Hannah says:

    Awww Jewels, I’m so sorry to hear that. It sounds like an incredible environment and I’m glad you got to spend the time you did there. My old Elementary school had a similar feel to what you described – I even did a bunch of my teacher training and initial subbing there – and they closed a few years ago and it broke my heart. They sold the land but it wasn’t until this fall that they actually tore it down, and my heart broke all over again, but I still carry what I learned there both as a student and a teacher in who I am in the classroom today and I’m certain that you will do the same with Rideau. I’m sure you will find somewhere else to land next year and spread the care, but in the meantime, if you need a hug or five, you know where to find me.

    1. Julie Evelyn Joyce says:

      You’re the best, Squiddypie. This brings me a lot of comfort, and I know you’re exactly right. I’ll find another place to spread the care, and I’ll carry the Rideau spirit with me wherever I go. πŸ™‚ *hugs tight*

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