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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Send your kids to Kharyati College

Our kids are in good hands.

Parents in the region may have serious concerns about sending their kids to Heritage College these days, as Bill 96, passed earlier this year, will make student life more difficult for English learners.

But those on the fence should know that there is nobody better suited to guide students, staff, and the college itself into the uncertain times ahead than Terry Kharyati.

Kharyati, the new director-general at Heritage College, took over from predecessor Gordon McIvor this summer. Anyone who knows anything about Kharyati will likely agree that our kids are in the best hands possible.

Touring Heritage College with Kharyati in early August, it became apparent how much he cares about his staff. Kharyati has only been in his new role for a few weeks, and he already knows nearly everyone in the building by name - the janitors, the receptionists, the student services workers, and everyone else who passed by. It wouldn’t be surprising if Kharyati knew the names of all 1,500 Heritage College students by the end of the school year.

It’s what Kharyati does.

This Low Down reporter covered Philemon Wright and Hadley extensively while Kharyati was principal of both schools throughout the mid-2000s – and every time we showed up for a story, it seemed like he knew every student by name. Kharyati said it’s important to know - and respect the students personally because he has to be the “bad guy” sometimes and wants to ensure that students always feel “respected even though we were holding them to account.”

This writer plays hockey with Kharyati in Chelsea, and we have become pals. But our friendly relationship doesn’t take away from Kharyati’s track record of success. When Kharyati took over as principal at Hadley and Philemon Wright, parents were not proud to send their kids to the urban school, scoring around 245 out of 250 schools on the Fraser Institute school rankings.

By the time Kharyati left in 2016, the school jumped to the 150 mark, where it is today.

And it’s personal for some families. I’ve seen beer-league hockey dads wrap their arms around Kharyati for turning their child’s student life around. (A second round of hugs usually ensues if the Mineurs d’Old Chelsea win.) But his accolades speak just as loud as the anecdotes. Kharyati has received numerous teaching awards throughout his career and was named Canada’s Outstanding Principal in 2014 by the National Academy of Principals - an award that comes through nominations from staff, students, and parents.

But Kharyati shies from taking credit. Even during our Low Down interview, he wanted the focus to be more on the teachers, the staff, the students, and the janitors, who he called “the real heroes.”

Bill 96 will have lasting effects on English education in Quebec. The controversial law will place caps on enrollment, force English students to take more French, and place additional strain on Indigenous students and students with disabilities.

But if there is anyone with the wisdom, experience, and courage to fight through this challenging time for students, staff, and parents, it’s Terry Kharyati.


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