About Andrew Hall
Andrew Hall (@drumjokes93) is a drummer and started a junior and senior worship band at St. Johns College. He challenges students to write a worship song every year and then takes them to a studio to record it. This year with all restrictions, he can’t do worship band but am still finding ways to give students opportunities.
**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.
Sam Demma (00:00):
Do you want access to all the past guests on this show? Do you want a network with like-minded individuals and meet other high performing educators from around the world? If so, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Sign up to join the exclusive network and you’ll get access to live virtual networking events and special opportunities that will come out throughout 2021. I promise you I will not fill your inbox. You might get one email a month. If that sounds interesting, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Welcome back to another episode on the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today’s guest is Andrew Hall. He is the chaplaincy leader at St John’s college, and he also runs a band, a worship band with his high school. He is a drummer and he started a junior and senior band and he challenges students to write a worship song year, and then he takes them to a studio to record it. Because this year’s COVID, unfortunately that’s been a little bit difficult, but he is still finding other ways to give students opportunities. And that’s what we talk about today on the show. So pop your headphones in and enjoy today’s interview with Andrew Hall. And I will see you on the other side. Andrew, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator podcast. I love the Jersey you’re wearing. I would love for you to share with the audience who you are, the work that you do and why you originally got into the work you do with youth.
Andrew Hall (01:36):
All right. So my name is Andrew Hall. I’m a chaplaincy leader at St. John’s College in this is my seventh year at the high school. I also did three years of elementary chaplaincy in Niagra and one year as an onsite chaplain at Mount Mary Ancaster. So I’ve been in chaplaincy 10 years in total. And the reason why I got into it just was because I have a passion for the Catholic faith, and I love sharing that faith with teenagers and students. And one reason I’m I’m in this position as a chaplain is that I kind of love the freedom that comes with it. Like for example I don’t have to be at parent teacher interviews or grade or do things like that. There’s a lot of fun that comes with this job. So for example, in a normal year, like isn’t a normal year, so I know we’ll get that a bit later, but in a normal year I’d be taking kids to nursing homes. I’m a drummer, so I’d be jamming with the worship band at lunch be going to volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul doing community work. So, and having campus ministry meetings where we play games. And I try to make faith interactive for students because I think faith shouldn’t be boring. It should be fun. So that’s a huge part of why I’m in this job is just making faith fun for students and showing them that you can have fun in your faith.
Sam Demma (02:55):
I love that. And at what point in time did you know, I wanna be doing this specific work? Was it when you were in high school? Was it when you were in university? When did you decide this was gonna be your future?
Andrew Hall (03:07):
So I’d say right after university actually I wasn’t really planning to be a chaplain, so I can kind of tell you how I kind of maybe accidentally stumbled into that role if you want. Sure, sure. Yeah, sure. So anyway, I was planning to be a teacher. I was I got the degree from Redeemer University College and their teaching college program. And I also got an undergrad in theology and Phys. Ed. So I was planning to be a teacher. At the time I was planning a band. So I was trying to make that work. I was also doing landscaping on the side and had all of these different things going on. But one day I decided to go for a hike on a Bruce trail near Mount Mary Ancaster. And if you don’t know what Mount Mary is, it’s a modest area.
Andrew Hall (03:54):
It’s where, where nuns live. And anyway, I, I happened to bump into an none and we got to talking and I told her, you know, I go to Redeemer and you know, in Catholic. And she said, would you be interested in being an onsite chaplain here and running retreats for for grade eights from Kitchener, Waterloo? You know, I never really thought about it, but it was like a really it sounded really secure to me. Like, you know, I was guaranteed, like, you’re gonna run like 40 retreats that year. You’re guaranteed, like these are the days you’re working and, you know, with landscaping, you, you get rained out. , you know, things like that. And, you know, the band and the music industry, it’s a, it’s an awesome dream to have, but, you know it’s a tough gig, you know, so anyway, I said, sure, I’ll, I’ll come by for interview tomorrow. They gave me the job and basically by just going hiking and bumping into a nun that’s how I became a chaplain really. And now I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t do anything else. I love this.
Sam Demma (04:51):
Awesome, man. That’s really, really cool. And you mentioned earlier, there are some challenges that make this year a little bit different than the average year. What are some of the challenges that your current faced with and what do you, or what have you been trying to, to overcome them?
Andrew Hall (05:06):
So first I think our biggest challenge is at least for our Catholicity is we’re not allowed to have masses. So this is like the first time where, you know, our students are unable to gather for masses and see our priests, you know, face to face at school. As the musician too, you know, I do the worship band. This is like I said, it’s my seventh year, seventh year at St. John’s and we’ve had a worship band every year since I’ve been there. And I challenge the kids to write a song and we take them to the studio to record it. And that’s like a huge love that I have at that job, but we can’t have worship band this year because as you may know, like singing’s not allowed, right. I guess from what I know, it can spread germs during COVID, you know, so for those safety reasons, we can have worship band, like even my wife who sings sometimes at church has to sing behind glass, you know?
Andrew Hall (06:00):
So there’s a lot of precaution to go into music right now. If it’s gonna happen. So just outta safety, we’re not doing worship band. So what I’m doing instead is I’m challenging students to record songs at home. So if you’re a singer guitar player, Hey, record a song at home, send it to me and we’ll throw it in the liturgy. Even we’ll just throw it in as on a random day, like, Hey, here’s this person celebrating their faith at home. And other challenges too are just for example, we, we can’t go to nursing homes right now. Like that’s something I’ve done every year and the kids love it. I love how a big part of, of me is showing every person that they matter and that every stage of life matters. So we go to the nursing home.
Andrew Hall (06:43):
That’s the one thing I love about the work I do as well. So we can’t do that. So as an alternative, I talked to one of the nurses at the nursing home and we’re doing a pen pal program with them. Hmm. So for the month of October, November, I have about 35 students signed up and we are writing a letter to them once a week. Mm-Hmm and also it’s really cool for English teacher jumped on board. She’s getting her class to do it as well. So those are challenges I’m facing, but I guess one rule that I’m trying to come up with is, you know, if what I’m trying to say, I guess is if I’ve try to do something or, you know, the things I normally do, I’m just trying to try to find a different way to do them.
Sam Demma (07:24):
That’s a great perspective. Just adjust and pivot a little bit, still have the impact of the activity, but maybe in a slightly different way. That’s great. Yeah. I know sports have been, been impacted as well. Speaking of you’re wearing a Raptor’s Jersey are you a big Raptor?
Andrew Hall (07:39):
Oh yeah. Yeah. Big time mean that’s kind of, I guess, sidetracking, but yeah, no I have been a Raptors for, I’d say about four years now. Nice. I’ve always been a basketball fan, but like, I’ll admit, I I always love playing it more. I’m watching it. Yeah. but you know how I said, like I got really lucky and I happened to bump into that nun that day. Right. Well, an, an experience like that actually helped me to become a raps fan. I, I won this random contest and it was like, it’s a limo free hotel, like free food to the raps opening game of four years ago. Nice. And honestly, once I went and saw live for the first time my dad, I was hooked and yeah. I never missed a game now, pretty much on TV when that happened.
Sam Demma (08:26):
That’s nice, man. That’s really cool. , you’re someone who radiates hope and joy and positivity, and you can tell it in your responses. And I’m curious to know aside of the challenges that are happening right now, what keeps you personally motivated and hopeful with the work that you’re doing?
Andrew Hall (08:43):
Oh, so what keeps me motivated and hopeful. Yeah. Okay. I guess right now seeing students buy into it, like even in the times we’re in like knowing that students are still willing and wanting to be involved. And I guess what gave me hope walking into September was knowing that during last year’s, you know, last school year’s pandemic when we were off that I still had students participate, even though we weren’t at school. So I thought if I can get students to do that, then I have a shot going into this year. You know? So for example, when we were off last year I challenged students to create like virtual liturgy. So the word, and every morning I would have a student film, a prayer video, we’d send it up to staff every single morning. So we even did like we had a virtual grad retreat for example, last year.
Andrew Hall (09:41):
So that even gave me hope. So for, and you even asked me, I think maybe I was looking at some of the questions, so I’m kind was right to jump ahead, maybe yeah. Go for it. Right. Right. Well, all right. No, I was just thinking about that. I mentioned virtual retreat and you know, I was thinking about I guess one of those questions that we were talking about before we started recording was just like do I have any mistakes that I’ve made maybe, or would I do anything differently? And I think when I look back to virtual grad retreat, I almost didn’t do it. I thought there’s no way kids are gonna do that. They’re off from school, what are the chances? And I thought, you know, I’m just gonna go for it. So virtual grab retreat actually gave me a lot of hope and this happened in may last year. I just thought, you know, if this 27 students can sign up in may. And that just made me think, you know, if we go back September, then I know if things can work. Yeah.
Sam Demma (10:39):
Yeah. How, how did you do that? How, like, if you were to share a little bit about how that was possible for someone who might be listening, would you be open to sharing?
Andrew Hall (10:48):
Yeah, sure. Like how did I actually get it off the ground? Virtual grad retreat?
Sam Demma (10:51):
How did you do it?
Andrew Hall (10:52):
Sure. So basically I didn’t even have any idea what I was doing, but I, I kind of came up with I thought, okay, first off, what would you do in a virtual grad retreat? So I came up, I wanted to keep it simple. So I contacted our parish priest, that’s connected to the school and I said, Hey, can you start the retreat off with a a blessing for our grads? So we did that. We had an activity like where I asked students to reflect on their four years at St. John’s college and write a letter to a teacher that impacted them. Because our theme, we have a free year theme at our school board, and last year’s theme was encounter. So I wanted to, to reflect on that theme of encounter and how has a, a teacher that you’ve encountered impacted your life.
Andrew Hall (11:38):
And then, then we did a a big song at our school’s awesome God, the the worship man is always requested to play it out song. So we did like an awesome God challenge, where I challenged students to listen to the song, maybe do something funny or goofy, take a picture and host it on social media, just with the hashtag awesome. God. And then the last thing was just taking a selfie with saying SJC virtual grab retreat as a hashtag. And that was pretty much it. So it’s just, honestly that took an hour and students really appreciate it. I think one way I know that is just I was actually, I didn’t know what to do with the letters the kids wrote to their favorite teachers. Right. So I actually went and delivered them to the teachers and with my kids, I familiar two oldest kids in the car and we went out, we delivered letters and it really made it was really nice to see just the impact on the teachers, not seeing those students to get those letters.
Sam Demma (12:36):
Yeah, that’s awesome. And during this time you mentioned 27 kids showing up in may. I’m sure you’ve been impacting a lot of students right now during this time as well. I’m curious to know if there’s a story in your mind. It doesn’t have to be of right now, maybe in the past years of, of your work a story that might, you’ve impacted a young person’s life through your own work. And the reason I’m asking you to share the story and you can change the student’s name if you’d like to, for the sake of privacy. But the reason I’m asking you to share the story is because if there’s another educator out there listening to this, thinking to them themselves, you know, it’s been really tough year this year. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why my work important to hear a story that you have. It might inspire them to remember, you know, their, their purpose.
Andrew Hall (13:20):
Okay. You might hear a baby in the background there. We’ll see, but that’s okay. It’s like school, there’s always something going on. Right. That’s all good. Right. So anyway I guess a story about how I’ve impacted someone’s life. Just let’s go back to virtual grad retreat. I didn’t expect to get a letter from a student. But I did I had a grade 12 girl write me a letter just saying, Hey, you know, without you, as our chaplain, I don’t think I would be as close to God as I am right now. So that actually that really I just made me reassured me that even in these toughest times, I can still be effective as a chaplain even going into September our new board theme has transformed. So I reached out to a few graduates and I asked, Hey, you know, can you record videos?
Andrew Hall (14:17):
Cause I think it’d be awesome for our staff to be witness to by students who have graduated and just saying how your faith is transformed at St. John’s. so this one girl she won’t even mind me saying her name, but her name’s Ella and she filmed the video saying how much to worship band impact impacted her life, how it helped her to overcome shyness and just be more outgoing. And she, she said in the video that, you know, if you would’ve told her in grade nine, that she’d be singing in front of like 1200 kids, she would’ve never believed you. But it happened. And to me, I think that says that sometimes people are just looking for an invitation to get involved. And I think that’s my role to give people opportunities and hope they take advantage of them.
Sam Demma (15:04):
That’s awesome. I was gonna ask you as a follow up question, like how do we, you know, knowing that students write these letters to their teachers and their chaplains, you know, what do we do proactively to get those? Not, not that you’re looking to get that response from a student you wanna, you know, impact their life. Is it just tapping ’em on the shoulder and providing them with an opportunity or what do you proactively do to make students feel cared and appreciated?
Andrew Hall (15:30):
Let’s see. Well, I guess providing those opportunities is my way of showing I care. Nice. You know? Yeah. And I also think like the personal touch is like something you gotta do. Like it’s not just going on announcements and saying, Hey, come out. Like it’s for me going into those classrooms and being face to face with kids and saying, you know, I’m not just on announcements, I’m actually going into classrooms. And I think that students, when they see you like walking around the hallway or not just this, not just a chaplain in your office, that you’re actually out there and doing things, it shows that you care. So that’s how I try to show students that I care just by being present and giving them that opportunity.
Sam Demma (16:13):
Awesome. I love that so much. And it was a teacher who taught me on the shoulder and said, Hey, Sam, go do this in the community. That totally transformed my experience in a high school. So I, I can totally agree to that. If someone listening who’s an educator wants to reach out to you and maybe just bounce some ideas around, what’s the best way for them to do that.
Andrew Hall (16:32):
Oh sure. As, so they can contact me at my email, which is email@example.com. That’s where they can talk, contact, and reach out. They can also Google my name in St. John’s College and I’m sure my email will pop up.
Sam Demma (16:58):
Okay. Awesome. Andrew, thanks so much for coming on the show. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you and I can’t wait to hear some of your new student music.
Andrew Hall (17:05):
Awesome. Thanks. Yeah, we got music coming out next week for doing something different for Thanksgiving. Like I said, we can’t have our Thanksgiving mass. So we’re actually having we have our schedule set up in four different blocks right now, just with COVID. So at the end of each block, we’re gonna pause and have something to celebrate our faith and give thanks for Thanksgiving. So I actually have students recording songs at home for Thanksgiving. So yeah, we’re gonna have some music coming out next week.
Sam Demma (17:38):
Awesome. Well, I’ll look forward to it and I’ll talk to you soon.
Andrew Hall (17:41):
Awesome. Thanks Sam.
Sam Demma (17:43):
And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating in review. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you wanna meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.
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