About Annibale Iarossi
Annibale Iarossi (@Princ_Iarossi), is the Principal at St. Marcellinus Secondary School in Mississauga. Annibale’s passion has always been working with diverse learners and seeking opportunities for them to experience success. He began his career in 2002 at St. Augustine Secondary School in Brampton as a Special Education Resource Teacher.
In this role, Annibale sought to provide his students with the necessary tools they needed to achieve their best results. In 2005, Annibale accepted a job as Student Success Teacher at the newly built St. Joan of Arc Secondary School. In this role, he was able to work collaboratively with students, teachers, admin and support staff in planning for the success of all students.
This role also motivated Annibale in moving forward with his personal goal of being a Secondary School Administrator. In 2013, entered into administration as a Vice Principal until 2019 when we was appointed Principal of St. Marcellinus Secondary School.
Some of Annibale’s favourite moments as both an educator and a student have been outside the traditional classroom. As a teacher, he has enjoyed coaching football, soccer, basketball, and cross country.
He continues to firmly believe that significant learning occurs outside the classroom when collaborating with other individuals in a team environment. In his spare time, Annibale enjoys watching his children play basketball and working out at the gym.
**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 (00:01):
Annibale, welcome to the high performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show this morning, please start by introducing yourself.
Annibale Iarossi (00:10):
I’m my name Annibale Larossi. I am the principal at St. Marcina secondary school in Mississauga with the din peel Catholic district school board.
Sam Demma (00:21):
When did you realize in your own career journey that education is what you wanted to pursue?
Annibale Iarossi (00:28):
I think that was rather early. When I was a student, I, think what motivated me to get into teaching was having great teachers and great teachers allowed me to fall line myself and allowed to me to realize the leader that I was, and so that translated into me getting involved in, in things in high school. And then that moving, moving into volunteering while I was in university and working with learners of all types. And I realized, yeah, this is, this is for me. I want to, I wanna be a leader in my classroom, my school, and now ultimately you know, I’m leading the school as a principal.
Sam Demma (01:12):
Take me back to yourself as a student, you mentioned that you had some great teachers. Do you remember two things, one who they were, and secondly, what you do for you that had a big impact?
Annibale Iarossi (01:26):
For sure. And, and when, when I looked at you know, who these teachers I was talking about they influenced me in different ways. Some of them influenced me by actually teaching me in class. So I had to teacher I, I recall Mrs. Roberts and who who taught, who was a history teacher and, and that’s, that’s my teachable area. That was the area I went into, got my degree. And, and she really motivated me through her lessons. And you know, you never knew what was gonna happen in the class. She was very enthusiastic, very creative and which allowed me to then in, in turn grow in my creativity. Other teachers that I had that were fantastic for me were some of my coaches in, in high school whether that be my football coaches or soccer coaches you know Mr. Barco, miss Dayton, Mr. Dayton Mr. Hollowell, Mr. Desna, all these, all these guys that motivated me to be a leader on the field then, and and all played a part in building who I am as a person.
Sam Demma (02:45):
Were athletics, a big part of your upbringing as well?
Annibale Iarossi (02:50):
Yeah. You know what I was, I was always involved in, in sport. I guess not to the same degree as, as kids are nowadays, when you stay involved in sport. And I look at my kids were involved in both are involved in basketball and I was never involved that, that much into sport, but it, it kept me engaged in school and it kept me to be affiliated with something that had purpose. So it in school, especially, I love being involved in sports and that’s why when I moved to become a teacher, I, I coached and I, I coached cross country. I CRO coached soccer. I coached football all of these sports. And it, it, it allowed me to give back to what those educators did for me.
Annibale Iarossi (03:54):
Yeah. So, so when I started when I started teaching, so I started teaching back in 2002, 2003, I was at St. Augustine secondary school. And I was I was in the special education, the academic resource department. So I was working with some of our diverse learners and, and that’s where my passion started in terms of with diverse learners and helping them achieve success. I was mentored by my department head Joce, Neves, who has now passed away. And he cared so much for students. He cared so much for not only them getting their credit, but their wellbeing, where they were going to be after high school, what they were doing outside of school, were they okay. And that resonated with me and it wanted me to work to the same standard as he did.
Sam Demma (03:39):
Absolutely. And when you think about your journey through education, where did it start and what brought you to where you are now? And I don’t mean you as a student, but you as an educator.
Annibale Iarossi (04:56):
So as a special education teacher, I was, I was at San Augustine for three years and really loved that, but I felt, I felt I needed a challenge and then a new school was opening up and St Joan a and the principal at the time CLA pit Tosha. Another one of my mentors brought me on staff as a student success teacher and student success at that point was a new a new role. And I remember going into it not even knowing what I had to do. And ironically we started out in this building at St. Mar Salinas. We were housed in this building. And basically I was, I was ensuring students experience success, worked to the best, to their ability and ensure that they graduated and got to their post-secondary destination where wherever that would be.
Sam Demma (05:50):
And is that student success position, does it serve the same purpose today, or for someone who has never worked in student success, what does it look like and, and what are you doing day to day?
Annibale Iarossi (06:01):
Yeah, so student success it, it, it really, and the student success teacher, it really is defined by the, the, the person who is in the role. Cool. because everybody does interpret it in a different way, but the essence of it is how can I get my students to graduate experience success, go to the post-secondary destination that they need to get to, whether that be university college work apprenticeship what tools can I provide my students what support can I provide my students to get them where they need to go? So I think that’s how I always approached it. And, and it’s, it’s been those were, those were some of the best years of my life in term in education because the students I worked worked with in those eight or nine years, I still, I still keep in contact with them today. Whether I run into them in the neighborhood or they’re coaching my kids or, or whatever. They’re, they’re there. And, and it’s, every time I see it, I, I feel like, you know, I it’s, I, I, I live my purpose. I live my purpose through being able to support them.
Sam Demma (07:19):
Right now student success is very important. Student wellbeing is very important. Staff wellbeing is very important. Staff success is very important. All those things are kind of at the forefront because of what’s happening in the world. What are some of the challenges that are facing your school community and potentially other school communities right now that you and the staff and students are striving to overcome?
Annibale Iarossi (07:48):
Absolutely. I think you hit it right there with you know, being in a pandemic. It is highlighted a lot of challenges. Some of the challenges though have turned into opportunities and those opportunities to, for instance, a challenge at the beginning of the pandemic was technology and, and being able to navigate technology and, and staff and students being able to navigate technology well, that, that that’s turned into an opportunity to, to, as, as professional teachers, they’ve turned that into an opportunity to be better teachers and to offer their students more. And and as students you know, digesting that, that new, this new technology and these new apps and, and all kinds of things, it’s given them a different skillset. Now, if we, you look back to the wellness piece, I, think that’s high.
Annibale Larossi (08:46):
I think that’s something that remains a challenge. I think moving in and out of school buildings has provided students with some, some mental health cha challenges, some wellness challenges, and as staff, what we’ve tried to do is keep the lines of communication open through our guidance department, our student services support services such as child and youth worker, social workers but, but the people who are on the ground first, our, our teachers are the ones that, that bring it to our attention so we can deal with it. And, you know, I have a wonderful administrative team who, who you know, shout out to all three of my VPs, Maria Laurie and Sheena, who who do a fair, fantastic job every day promoting student success and wellbeing for all our students.
Sam Demma (09:41):
And how do you personally fill your own cup? I know it’s sometimes a challenge. I, I struggle setting boundaries between work and life. And sometimes when things get overwhelming, you might be spending every minute of every day thinking about work, how do you, you know, set up the boundary for yourself and also fill up your own cup?
Annibale Iarossi (10:05):
Yeah, I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve transitioned from vice principal to principal. I know starting as a vice principal, I thought, I, you know, I was a single vice principal, so I had, it was me and the principal. And I thought I had to be everything to everyone. And I thought I had to be on call all the time. And you know, you let you let yourself slip you, you, you get into a rut. And and then you question whether you’re, what you’re doing is the right thing for, for everyone. And but as, as I’ve moved on with experience in this role and in having mentors in this role I’ve realized that the balance is important. So I, you know, I, do things like take care of myself, take care of my diet, take care of myself at the gym workouts get involved with, with of within the community as well.
Annibale Iarossi (10:58):
So it, it’s very important that that we do strive the balance. And, and I, I, I do now you know, I have more time to spend with my, my kids more time to spend with my wife being able to coach my son in basketball has been has been another great thing. So you know what, busyness, isn’t always bad. It’s just where you allocate the, the busy time that if you allocate it all one spot, it’s not always healthy, but if you break it up, busyness is pretty good.
Sam Demma (11:29):
It keeps you moving forward.
Annibale Iarossi (11:30):
Yeah. Yeah. Keeps you young.
Sam Demma (11:32):
Yeah. A hundred percent. And throughout your educational journey, what resource is experiences, programs, or things that you have been a part of, which of which of those things have been helpful to your personal and professional development? Did any, did anything come to mind?
Annibale Iarossi (11:51):
Yeah, I think I think first and foremost, I am a big proponent of mentorship. I, I think I’ve, I’ve served as a mentor through our administrative team through our principal vice principal association and through our board. And I’ve been a mentee I’ve, I’ve, I’ve had the opportunity to work some with some great principal within our board to be able to rely on for for assistance when I need it, because I don’t have all the answers. And you know, I, I think I’d be fooling people if I, if I had the answer to every question. I think relying on some PD through our association Catholic principals, council, Ontario and our board is, is, is, has been very beneficial to, to myself. And I, I would say most most administrators and, and that I’ve worked with.
Sam Demma (12:46):
Love that. And what did that mentorship look like? I’m also a huge fan of mentorship and there might be some new teachers wondering how do I find myself a mentor and might be a little overwhelmed with the idea of it?
Annibale Iarossi (12:59):
Yeah. Like I think so first I being, I remember being appointed a mentor and I was like, I’ve only been in this role for like three years. How am I mentor? Like, I, you know, I, I barely know anything. But then, you know, it, I think the cornerstone of a cornerstone of mentorship is listening and, and, and listening to what your mentees need listening to what they’re asking and listening to what they’re not asking. I think it, it’s, it’s, it’s very important. I’ve had some really great mentors as as principal, too as a principal as well. You know some former principles of mine Dan Kaun, Michael Grady guys, I’ve relied on to ask questions where I didn’t have the answer. And you know, what it allowed me to then pay it forward with other principles or vice principals that call me, or email me and say, Hey, do you have the answer to this? Or do you know, can you lead me in a certain way? And it it’s, I think it’s a great cycle to be a part of.
Sam Demma (14:07):
You mentioned earlier that in those moments of potential burnout or over pursuing work and not by balancing it with, with life and other important activities, sometimes you question not you specifically, but in general, as an educator, you question is this the right thing for me and everyone else. I’ve asked educators that similar questions a few times, and they’ve told me that during those days they have this little folder on their desk and it’s filled with all the notes that students would’ve sent over the years. And they’ll peek into this little this little notebook and remind themselves that the work makes a massive change. Yeah. Is that a true, is that a true thing that educators, do?
Annibale Iarossi (14:48):
You, you know what, so for a lot of people who really know me, they, they, they know that I am probably one of the least sentimental guys who are gushy or, or you know, that kind of guy, but I I’ll be honest. I, I do keep, I, I do keep, like, thank you cards. Like I’m looking right across from my desk right now to the table in front of me. I have about, you know, 12 thank you cards that are, that are there. And you know, I, I do keep those then in my desk just to, if I do need to rely on it you know, letters that I’ve gotten from students. Absolutely. I think those are the ones that really resonate and, and, and keep you are going on, on on days where you’re like, am I still making a difference emails from parents? You know, you always remember that you are make, you might not be making a difference for everyone, but you’re, you are making a difference for someone.
Sam Demma (15:46):
Mm it’s so true. If you could take the and knowledge you gained from your entire teaching career, kind of bundle it up into some advice and then travel back in time, walk into your own classroom of the first year you started teaching, tap yourself on the shoulder and say, Hey, an evil, you know, this is what I wish you heard when you just started. What would you have said to yourself?
Annibale Iarossi (16:15):
Yeah, I, I think maybe one of the first things, that’s a good question. One of the first things I, I would probably say is don’t take yourself too seriously. Mm. I know when I started when I started teaching, I, I was, I, at the time I, I, I, I was overwhelmed. I had a number of students in my, in my classes with a number of needs that I didn’t think I could I could help them with. And I, I even reached the point that I was like, is this teaching for me? And I, I, I think gaining perspective is important. Listening is always important in, in this profession. You need to be able to listen, you need to be able to process the information and then you need to be able to act. So I would say a first year teacher don’t take yourself seriously. Don’t stress out, get self balanced, and you’ll be okay.
Sam Demma (17:17):
Awesome. That’s a great advice. Thank you so much for taking some time to come on the show, share a little bit about your experiences, some ideas that have been helpful for you. If someone’s listening and wants to reach out what would be the best way for them to get a hold of you.
Annibale Iarossi (17:33):
Sure. Email is always good. I don’t know if you want me to, I can give you my email address. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org, or you know I’m on Twitter. So you can look me up on Twitter and or LinkedIn, and feel free to contact me.
Sam Demma (17:59):
Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show and keep up with the great work.
Annibale Iarossi (18:03):
Thanks, Sam. All right. Take care.
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