About Angelo Minardi
Angelo Minardi (@AmbrozicChap) is a chaplain at Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School. He is a Husband, Father, Educator, Sports junkie and passionate about his faith and catholic education. Angelo is also a High Energy Educator and Student Council Advisor.
Angelo is one of the most kind-hearted and purpose-driven educators you’ll ever meet. His high energy is infectious, and his ideas are actionable. He also currently serves as a Chaplaincy Leader at the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board.
**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):
Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today we have another friend and guest from education on the show. His name is Angelo Minardi and fun fact, his wife actually worked at the school at which I graduated from Saint Mary Catholic secondary school in Pickering. So it’s a very small world, as I’m sure you already know, as you make more friends and colleagues in this industry, Angelo was a chaplain at Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic secondary school. He is a husband, father, educator, sports junkie, and very passionate about his faith and public education. Angela was one of the most kindhearted and purpose-driven educators you’ll ever meet. And I hope you do meet him. Please reach out to him after this episode, he’d be more than happy to connect with you. His high energy is infectious as I’m sure you’ll find out and his ideas very actionable. Let’s get into this episode right now with a good friend Angelo Minardi I’ll see you on the other side, Angela. Thank you so much for coming on to the high-performing educators podcast. It’s a pleasure to see you. I know we talked earlier in the summer and we’re connecting again and hopefully again, in the future what got you into the work that you do with the youth today and how are you doing
Angelo Minardi (01:17):
Right? Good. Well, first of all, thanks so much Sam for having me on. And it’s exciting, especially knowing that you are, you’re a product of St. Mary’s in Pickering. I have a lot of friends there. My wife works there so exciting to be on with you look you know, young people in terms of my work with them and, and why I I got myself involved with young people. My studies were in sociology and history when I left the university of Toronto. And then I was working at the bank of Montreal right after, but very quickly I found out that I wasn’t really using my gifts. You know, I had the many other gifts and I, and I thought, you know, how do I begin to explore for this? And it was just in conversations with my local pastor and conversation with some friends in conversations with my girlfriend at the time, who’s now my wife Katia where, you know, they people said, Hey, listen, we see a gift in you.
Angelo Minardi (02:05):
You have a lot of enthusiasm and joy and you seem to be great around young people. Have you thought about working with young people and that’s kind of where it started really, that’s where it was planted. And I remember when world youth, they was in Toronto, it’s a big celebration of young people across the Catholic church. And I attended it. And I remember meeting people from all across the world, young people from Mexico and Germany and Switzerland and USA all over the place. And I just found myself immersed in this, you know, th th this Nirvana, if you will, you know, this is like amazing place where young people were, you know, together sharing, singing, laughing, and it just kind of kicked off from there. And then I got myself into high school ministry and haven’t looked back ever since
Sam Demma (02:51):
It’s about enthusiasm, it’s definitely a trait that you don’t lack. It’s evident even just talking to you over this. And it’s, it’s funny because the biggest impact that my world issues and religion teacher had on me was the, was the fact that he was passionate. And I want to ask you when you were a young person and you were in school, what are some educators? And if I asked this question, you probably have some names that pop in mind right away, who are some educators that made a huge impact on you. And why? Like, what was the trait or the reason why you still remember them to this day and how do you try and have that same impact on your kids?
Angelo Minardi (03:28):
Very good. Yeah. That’s an excellent question. And you’re right. I think instinctually, you remember right away. So there’s two teachers that come to mind. First teacher was my grade eight teacher. Peter Gane was his name. And he was also my basketball coach and I’m an avid basketball player played right up until the university level. And I remember I was in grade eight and I was kind of one of the better playing guys, but there was something missing that was taken me to the next level. And I remember Mr. Gain would always pull me aside and say, Angela, you have a gift in playing basketball. You need to work on that gift. You need to work harder and you’ll, you’ll have much more success. And really that’s what kind of that mindset changed everything for me, because when I got to high school level suddenly I emerged as one of the better players in, in high school that was playing over at or attending new McNeil high school in Scarborough and was having great success there.
Angelo Minardi (04:20):
And then a coach there was coach day pat day. And I’ll never forget him were same idea. You know, you can do a lot of good stuff here. Have you thought about playing, you know basketball at the varsity level and, and you know, if you do, you’ve got to start thinking ahead. And, but it, wasn’t only the sports, you know, these coaches, the great thing about sports is it unifies, right? It kind of helps build you up as a person, but then it also helps your life improve too. So not only am I becoming a better basketball player, I’m beginning, I’m becoming a better person. Right. And so I finally remember those two coaches. I remember also Mr. Vander Steen, my grade 12 religion teacher, who was so random, but he had enthusiasm and passion that could bury anyone, right? Like he just would never stop with it.
Angelo Minardi (05:05):
And I ran into him at a McDonald’s years ago. He was, we were in a drive-thru and there’s this chaos in front of me, this vehicle in front of me, kids all over the place. And and this car is taking forever to move ahead. Finally, he moves ahead. Well, he recognizes that as me behind him, and he gets out of the car and gives me a big hug. It’s like, how you doing? And so these are kind of the, the, the memories you have the relationships that you’ve formed. And I tell you, my wife’s a teacher, of course, I’m, I’m in high school chaplaincy, but so many great people in education. Right. And, and so many great role models for sure.
Sam Demma (05:40):
No, I love that. And it seems just talking to you and I’m sure an educator listening to this right now probably thinks the same thing. You took the same passion that you saw from your teachers and apply it to your own work now. And it’s, it’s fascinating to me because I think there’s always teachers that we never forget for a very reasons like the ones you shared. And I’m curious to know if through your own enthusiasm and passion, you’ve touched on some young people’s lives. And for the sake of this interview, you don’t have to use their name if you don’t want to. But I’m curious to know if you have a story that you could think of, of a young person who maybe was transformed by some work that you’ve done with them or with the school.
Angelo Minardi (06:18):
Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, there’s a few that come to mind. One in particular of which I’m still in contact with today. So I met her, I met the student when I was at all saints high school in Whitby. I was the chaplain there. And you know, she was struggling. It was a lot of issues at home between mom and dad, mom and dad were thinking of maybe possibly getting divorced. And you know, she would come into my room and just want to chat. You know, I could never resolve the issue for her. There wasn’t anything I could do other than listen. So that was one issue, but she also, academically, she wasn’t, you know, your model, a student, she worked harder than any student, but just couldn’t achieve the grades she needed. She always wanted to be a teacher.
Angelo Minardi (07:02):
And she was always told she couldn’t, and I would work with her, you know, all at pretty much, every, every other day she was in my office working on this. And anyway, she moved on to post-secondary kept applying herself. We had many conversations, good and bad, many tears. Laughter. and she just kept going. And I remember she, she called me, we had drawn apart for a few years. We had stopped communicating and then she contacted me and she basically said, thank you. And I said, for what? Well, just for being there for being present for listening, I said, I didn’t do anything. She goes, no, you don’t understand. She goes, I’m a teacher. I got into teacher’s college. I’m graduating. I’m like what? She goes, yeah, I’m graduate. I’m going to be a teacher. She’s now living in Quebec and she’s teaching in Quebec.
Angelo Minardi (07:48):
And, and again, that’s one of many stories, right? Cause you don’t realize the impact you’re making on lives of people. Not only students, but even people you meet every day. Like the words you say, how you interact, how you respond to them. And the thing about education or even working with people is that you don’t, you don’t know you can’t, it’s not tangible. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. You don’t know the benefit right. To that conversation or to that, that relationship. But there’s an example. And we just spoke the other day. She was telling me how she was very nervous because there were 562 cases of COVID in Quebec and they were shutting down schools and you know, she’s an elementary teacher. She was worried. Right. So yeah. W that’s someone, gosh, I love her. I tell her all the time that, you know, I’m so proud of her and yeah. That’s someone I think of immediately. Yeah, for sure.
Sam Demma (08:40):
It’s amazing. It’s an amazing story. And the reason I wanted you to share was because so many teachers right now are experiencing burnout or facing instrumentable or what seems like instrumentable challenge. Like you mentioned with COVID there’s so many, so many unfortunate things happening in education right now. It’s hard to get a pulse on what we need to do. It’s like, you know, education’s around peg and now the peg hole is a square and nothing’s fitting properly. There’s no rules of the game. Imagine showing up to a basketball game with no raft, there’s no lines. There’s five nets. You’re like, what are we supposed to do here? Right. So many educators feel like that. The story you shared, hopefully brings them some hope and reminds them why they’re doing what they’re doing. So I want to ask you the reverse. What brings you hope? Why do you keep working so hard? Why do you keep inspiring all these young people and, and show up every day, excited with enthusiasm to your job? What motivates you?
Angelo Minardi (09:32):
Listen, man, I, you know, I, every day when I get up, I think, you know, how can I make a difference today? And I really mean that I’m not, it’s not cliche. Like I, I mean, I, you know, I wake up every morning and I’m just grateful, right? That I’m healthy. That, that there’s another day here place before me. And you know, young people inspire me, man. Like, it’s just, I find that young people are not judgmental. You know, young people don’t carry, you know burdens in the sense that that weigh them down when they’re around other people, young people do have hope. They have compassion, they are empathetic. And so when I surround myself with young people, when I see a young person I’m, I’m filled with joy, man, I just want to do more. I want to give them more.
Angelo Minardi (10:15):
How much more can I give? How much more of an example can I be? But I get it from them. Like they’re giving me the energy. They’re giving me the hope, right? It’s not what I’m doing. I don’t do anything. Right. It’s their presence. It’s their ability to answer me. It’s their desire to want to go out in the community with me and do good. You know, at the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I’ll be honest with you sometimes. I think, man, how much more can I do? But this is my 19th year that I’ve been working as a high school chaplain. And I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Right. it’s so life-giving gives me so much hope. So, you know, students give me hope, but even teachers and again, yes, my wife’s a teacher and I’ve been working with teachers for 19 years, but even amidst this whole pandemic, there’s been so much negativity around teachers and what they do.
Angelo Minardi (11:02):
And I can tell you working with teachers for the last 19 years, these are amazing people. Like they are. They’re amazing people. And they give so much to children that are not their own right to young people that are not their own. And I know my wife will be up day and night asking how much more can I give to these kids? And so teachers inspire me, right? The work of an educator inspires me that somehow, who am I to be able to share with someone, my, my gifts or my wisdom, like who am I in the grand scheme of things. And yet for, for young people, they look up to us, right? They want to hear us, they want us around. And so that’s where I find hope. I find hope and enjoy. I find hope in youth. I find hope in, you know, educators people that, that selflessly give Sam, that’s what you’re doing. I see that you’re selflessly giving. And that’s what makes the world always a better place, right? That’s what makes there’s always more good than there is bad in the world. Because of that,
Sam Demma (12:00):
I love it. There’s a book. I was recently reading called how to sell your way through life. And it has nothing to do with sales, but everything to do with developing a very sound and integrity based personality. And one of the traits was get into the habit of doing more work than you’re expected. And there was another habit that was just embodying the golden rule, right? Cheat your neighbor as it can be treated. And, and he said that if this was the basis of all of humanity, almost all of our problems would be solved. And you raise a good point about service. You also mentioned that you’ve been doing this for 19 years. That’s almost as long as I’ve been alive.
Angelo Minardi (12:39):
Sam Demma (12:41):
And I say that not to position you as an older gentleman, but to show your experience, you know, you’ve been doing this a very long time. You’ve been, you’ve been doing this. You’ve, you’ve worked with hundreds of students. You’ve also worked with a, probably a lot of outside different events and partners to bring into a school. And I’m really curious to pick your brain for a second. What do you think is the most important characteristic or trait of an external presenter or speaker that you bring in front of your student audience? If you’re going to share an idea, you know, how do you choose which ones to share?
Angelo Minardi (13:13):
Well, th th that’s a great question because, you know, there’s never a shortage right. Of, of people that we bring in experts, if you will, in a field or whatever, I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of a young person. Right. So if someone shows up in my school and presents to me, you know, what am I, what am I looking for? What do I want to see? You know, I think the first thing I would, I would look for is an authentic person. Right. Then authentic message. What is it that this person wants to communicate? Is it just another item on their agenda or another another group on their, on their list as they rise, you know, in stature, arise in their work? You know, what is the message? And is it authentic? Right. But there also has to be a personal site to, can this person connect with young people and listen, I know many older people than me that are excellent with young people, but it’s because there’s the gift, right.
Angelo Minardi (14:02):
There’s gotta be a gift there. There’s gotta be some connection mate. And so that’s important to me too. Right. So authentic message, you know, is there a personal side where they can connect with these people? You know, ultimately is there a love of, of, of, of the group that they’re speaking to? So when I’m looking for a speaker, you know, do I see from that speaker love to be with young people or a desire to want to help young people become better young people. And so, you know, that’s kinda my approach. Usually, you know, I try to find someone with the same enthusiasm to, if I can, you know, just imagine two of us standing up there. Right. And then the kids are wild now they’re wild. Right. But that’s okay. We got them, we got them. Right. And they’ll listen when you tell them to, but yeah, that’s also important, right. Otherwise there’s no connection Sam. Right. Otherwise we’re just up there talking just like any other person talking. Right. So,
Sam Demma (14:53):
Yeah. I love that. That’s a great point. And right now, unfortunately, it’s tough to bring people in due to COVID you mentioned you’re the girl that you taught is having the same difficulty out in Quebec. I’m really curious to know how you’ve approached school during these times. Have you had any ideas that are generated by you, your staff or your students that have helped increase student morale, increased student engagement during these times? Or what just general tips would you have for other educators to push through during COVID-19?
Angelo Minardi (15:23):
Right. So, you know, I think we, we, we need to begin by, by saying that this is something we’ve never experienced before, right? Like we absolutely have no idea from day to day kind of how to go forward or what, what to do next. That being said you know, I’m always a guy glass half full, right. So I see this as an incredible opportunity to be present. And let me explain that for a second. So usually in a typical high school year as a chaplain, I would be out of the school of three to four days a week, whether it’s leading a retreat meeting with a pastor having to attend the board office for a meeting because of COVID-19. I have actually been in the school every day, since first day since September eight. And so it’s given me this incredible opportunity to be present and presence, meaning my physical presence in the school as the spiritual leader, you know, like being able to visit students just to drop into their class, being able to spend more time with teachers.
Angelo Minardi (16:21):
I’ve never had this much time with teachers in all these years because our students in high school, they usually only come in for a couple of hours. So they’re gone by lunch and I’ve got the rest of the school day with teachers now. Yes, they still have to continue teaching online, but they do have launched. They do have a work period where I can connect with them. So it’s been an incredible opportunity in that time. I also been able to continue meeting with our students online. And so I work with a group of core kids, which is a, a group of identified students from grade 10 to 12 that work with me more closely in chaplaincy. And this group of core kids, we’re about 180 this year. We have weekly check-ins, so we’ve started last week. We continue. We’re continuing again this week where we just check in, how are you doing?
Angelo Minardi (17:09):
What are you hearing in the community? How do we continue to be a caring, inclusive and, and, and compassionate community? And I tell you, Sam, the, the things that these young people are telling us, and I’m talking about 15 and 16 year olds, right. Which the world would say don’t mean anything don’t count, have nothing to contribute. I tell you what this generation, as far as I’m concerned is as more as, as compassionate, as empathetic as a generation. I know I would even say more so than my generation. I know a lot of adults, you know, in my age group you know, that would not have the compassion nearly have the compassion or empathy these young people have. So in terms of, you know how have I approached it or what opportunity has been presented? It’s been presence, presence with, with, with teachers in particular, but it’s been that constant right.
Angelo Minardi (17:58):
Weekly check-ins daily. Check-Ins for some students, you know, we’re here, you know, we love you. We support you, you know, how can we help you? Because that’s the reality, right? We’ve got to accept, what’s been given. And so rather than complaining about it and finding other ways to ignore the issue, or just further isolate ourselves, you know, how do we, how do we kind of continue to build that community and that relationship with, with what’s, with what’s given in terms of the pandemic. So that’s kind of it, I, again, glass half full, right. I always try to be positive. Cause when I’m negative, I always, I always joke around with my own kids at home, but also the kids at school, I say, listen, when minority’s negative, it’s always in the car, on the drive home. Right. So if I need to cry or scream or whatever, I’m by myself in the car. Right. And you know, then I’m, once I’m out of the car, I’m back. Right. I’m I’m ready again. So that’s, that’s pretty much it. Yeah.
Sam Demma (18:51):
I like how you opened it by saying we have to all agree and understand that it’s a new experience. Something we’ve never experienced before. And with that perspective, no idea is a stupid idea because it’s a brand new situation and you just mentioned the positive side of it, as you, as you explained, I’m curious to know if there are any mistakes, you have also seen things that maybe you have been tried and didn’t work out or things that educators have tried, but aren’t really maybe, maybe not the right time to do something. Like what have you seen on the mistakes? I think, and the reason we share this is so someone else can avoid the same thing you can write.
Angelo Minardi (19:27):
And there is, there’s always two sides to a coin, right? And, and you know, sometimes we have to be careful when we talk about what’s not working because if we’re not in the right frame of mind, or if we don’t have the right perspective, we can get trapped in it. But yeah, there’s a lot that hasn’t worked. I can tell you this hybrid model of learning that we’re currently going through, which is, you know, students coming in in the morning for a couple of hours, so they can have some FaceTime with their teachers and then heading home and, and going online the rest of the day, it’s not working because number one, our students tell us it’s not working. Right. And it’s not working because our students come in they’re quickly ushered to their class. They’re not to leave their class unless they need to go to the washroom.
Angelo Minardi (20:11):
And then they’re quickly ushered out. No conversations allowed in the hallways, no contact within two feet in the hallways. And there quickly, I should also the whole social aspect, the whole social piece is gone. And it’s funny, Sam, because here we had, and again, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist and not a psychologist, but here we have, you know, psych lead psychologist from the hospital for sick children at the end of the summer, saying for the old, for the wellbeing of our young people, for their mental health, you know, we need to get them back to school. Why can tell you Sam, not only in my board, but you can see what’s happening in Toronto. We don’t have enough teachers for online. We have more and more students leaving in class and going online because there’s no social piece. And so where does that leave us?
Angelo Minardi (20:58):
You know, so what’s happening is that’s one piece. The other piece is we seem to be isolating ourselves more and more at least isolated in our students. More and more for me, Sam, and this is my own personal opinion. And, and hopefully no one calls me out of this, on the board level, but you know, where, where, you know, where’s the concern of our kids. When have we spoken to our students, we’re talking to ministers of education, we’re talking to politicians, we’re talking to teachers, but what are we talking to our students? Are we asking our students what they need, what they would like to see? We’re not, we’re not, you know, so there’s that. And then at the end, I would just say this whole process, you know, where we’re continually daily, introducing new documents or daily, introducing new approaches, where is it getting us?
Angelo Minardi (21:46):
Like, what is it doing to us? Right. And so again, like I said earlier, I don’t want to, don’t want to sound like I’m kind of trapping myself in this negativity, but let’s Sam, if we’re going to speak clearly. And honestly, then we have to be, you know, we have to be, you know, speak with truth, right. Speak with what we believe. And so I think we’re losing the battle, man. I think we need to maybe just get everyone back online, do our best that way, but find approaches online to have check-ins, to have mental health checks, to have, you know opportunities for kids on a more social level to just hang out in a zoom breakout room and just talk about whatever, you know? So yeah, so I think, I, I think those are some of the mistakes and again, we’ve never been on this path before, right? We’ve never had this journey before. And so maybe looking back in 50, 60, a hundred years, one week, you know, when we’re no longer here, we can leave some stuff behind to say, Hey, if a pandemic happens again, this is what we learned, right?
Sam Demma (22:47):
Yeah. It’s that old, it’s that old proverb that says, when you chase two rabbits, you catch none. And you’re trying to, you’re trying to do this integrated learning with online and in-person, you’re losing it, both of them right now because you’re dividing the attention maybe. And I love the candid approach. I love the honest open truth because that’s what other educators want to hear, including myself and the students. I’m sure if I was in school right now, I would be saying minorities, the best job, whatever, whatever I gotta, I gotta take the consideration of, of their point of views into the bucket of opinions as well. So I love that. You’re considering that Angelo, look, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you briefly today. You know, it’s, it’s already been 30 minutes. That’s crazy. Yeah. Why is it we’re having a good conversation? And if any educator from around the globe listening to this wants to reach out to you, where can they just, you know, email you or
Angelo Minardi (23:42):
Get into the app? Absolutely. So email, just email@example.com. I’m on social media as much as I can. So on Instagram @ambrozicchaplaincy on Twitter @ambrozikchap. And recently students have encouraged me to start up a YouTube channel. I’m not, not quite sure how to use that yet. I’ve just got daily prayers on there, but I’m even on YouTube as Cardinal Ambrozic CSS Office of Chaplaincy So yeah, you can certainly try there as well.
Sam Demma (24:14):
If anyone has some unique advice to share with Angelo on using YouTube more effectively, please do reach out.
Angelo Minardi (24:21):
I’m reading it. I’d love to be an expert please. Yeah, man, for sure.
Sam Demma (24:25):
Awesome. Angelo again, thank you so much for taking the time. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Angelo Minardi (24:29):
Hey, thank you, Sam. All the best with your stuff too. You’re doing great, man. Thanks so much.
Sam Demma (24:34):
Another jam packed interview with yet again, another high-performing educator Angelo, again, would love to hear from you and have an amazing conversation. So please be sure to reach out. And if you enjoyed this episode as always, please leave a rating and review. Let me know how you liked it. Some more educators can find it or even better yet. Tell your colleagues about this show. And if you know someone or you are someone who has inspirational stories and actionable ideas, we would love to interview you. I would love to interview on the podcast. So shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s make it happen. Thank you.
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