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Entrepreneur

Jeff Bradbury — ISTE award-winning and globally recognized digital learning strategist, educational broadcaster, public speaker, and entrepreneur

Jeff Bradbury — ISTE award-winning and globally recognized digital learning strategist, educational broadcaster, public speaker, and entrepreneur
About Jeff Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury (@TeacherCast) is a Technology Integration Specialist in New Jersey and the creator of the TeacherCast Educational Network.  With a background in Music Education, Jeff began performing in front of live audiences at a very early age and grew to love the opportunities he had working with others.  This led him to earn his Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 2001 and eventually his Masters in Music Performance in Orchestral Conducting in 2010.

After several years of being a Music Director for both Orchestra’s and Opera Companies in the New York / Philadelphia region, including an opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall he left the musical stage and began work on building the TeacherCast Educational Network.

Created as a passion project to assist teachers in understanding educational technology, Jeff recorded the first TeacherCast Podcast in the summer of 2011.  Since then the TeacherCast Network has been accessed in almost 180 countries and has amassed a following of more than 50,000 followers on Social Media.  With more than 1,000 audio and video podcasts recorded featuring more than 500 EdTech Companies and thousands of educators, TeacherCast is rated as one of the top 50 educational websites.

In 2018, Jeff created the TeacherCast Tech Coaches Network to support Instructional Technology Coaches and EducationalPodcasting.com, a learning portal to teach educators how to infuse podcasting into their curriculum.

Jeff Bradbury is a Google for EDU Certified Innovator & Trainer, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert & Trainer, and a TEDx Speaker.  In 2012, he was recognized as one of the Top 50 Educators Using Social Media at the inaugural Bammy Awards and was nominated three times in the category of Innovator of the Year.

Sought after as a professional development presenter, Jeff Bradbury, co-founder of Edcamp New Jersey, has presented at the ISTE & FETC and Podcast Movement Conferences, presented Keynote Addresses for Pearson, Podcast Mid-Atlantic Conference, and Columbia University’s Teacher College.

Jeff is married to Jennifer and is the father of an amazing set of triplets.

Connect with Jeff: Email | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

TeacherCast Educational Network

Bachelor of Music in Music Education Programs – West Chester University

Masters in Music Performance in Orchestral Conducting – West Chester University

Carnegie Hall

TeacherCast Podcasts

Google Certified Innovator Program

Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) Program

TEDx

Edcamp New Jersey

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC)

Pearson Education

Podcast Mid-Atlantic Conference

Columbia University’s Teacher College

The Transcript

**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
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. Today, we have a very special guest, Jeff Bradbury. Jeff is an ISTE award-winning and globally recognized digital learning strategist, educational broadcaster, professional speaker, and entrepreneur whose powerful message has impacted thousands of educators through his TeacherCast educational network. He’s also a musician and soon to be author of another book. Jeff, please take a moment and introduce yourself and tell us about impact standards.

Jeff Bradbury
Sam, it is great to see you again. Thanks so much for having me on. My name is Jeff Bradbury. I’m from Connecticut and I’ve been an educator for the last 20 years, father of the amazing Edu Triplets. They’re now 10 years old, going on 11. I can’t believe it. They’re going to be in fifth grade soon. And I’m looking forward to a great summer, and I’m looking forward to working with a lot of great teachers. My new book is coming out soon. It’s called Impact Standards, talking about how can we use the ISTE standards for digital learning to really make a difference in the classroom, and how can we set our teachers and students up for success so that way individualized professional learning can be attained.

Sam Demma
One of the challenges of the human experience is determining where to invest your energy. You are someone with multiple skill sets in so many different things. How did you decide serving educators and education was your pathway?

Jeff Bradbury
It’s funny, you ask a lot of teachers that same question. Many of them say, it just hit me. I don’t ever remember growing up a day that I said I want to be a teacher. It’s just always something. I’ve been a performer ever since I was two, three years old. Getting up on stage was just second nature, which lent myself to becoming a musician, and then becoming a music director, and an orchestra conductor, and an opera conductor. And then just being in front of people has just been always natural to me. So being able to share what I love, share my passions with others, that is essentially being a teacher. And so I’ve been in the classroom now between orchestra and technology for the last 20 years. And it’s been absolutely a blast.

Sam Demma
That’s amazing. Where did your educational journey begin? And when you were finishing it up, where did it wrap?

Jeff Bradbury
You know, I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia and the school district had like a thousand people per graduating class. My orchestra was huge. So always, always living in the music room, always living in the band room. I was one of those kind of kids and had a fantastic time as an undergrad. Got a chance to really experience what it was like to work with others. I had amazing student teaching experiences working in some fantastic schools. And then just really getting that first job and having a good time and really seeing the smiles on kids’ faces and working with adults in the last 10, 12 years or so, it’s just rewarding. And getting a chance to, as the book says, having an impact on others has been an amazing journey.

Sam Demma
When in your educational journey did digital learning become a huge focus of your work?

Jeff Bradbury
So I was a music director for about 15 years or so, and then at some point in time, my school district started asking me to give professional development sessions. That led me to figure out, okay, how do I do this? Where do I find the information? Which led me to creating the podcast. And then through the podcast, I got known in the technology circles. I made some connections at some pretty big companies. And next thing you know, I’m an instructional coach, which an instructional coach is somebody who goes in and works with teachers. And it’s basically that in the classroom, hand-on-hand professional learning. My job is to help that teacher use technology to its finest in the classroom. And then it really just grew from there. Instead of working with teachers, you’re working with coaches, and then you become an administrator and you’re working with school districts. And then when you go to some of these big conferences, now you’re working with district leaders, and you’re working with ed tech companies. And I’ve had the opportunity to work with the world’s largest companies out there and really do my best to make a difference in this world. And I’ve had an amazing ride. It’s been fantastic. And now I’m seeing my kids are starting to do that too. And they’re getting a chance to make videos and make podcasts and create websites and record themselves reading. It’s been pretty awesome.

Sam Demma
I have a speaking friend named Tom Pache. He also is a middle school teacher. He FaceTimed me recently. And while FaceTiming me, he was in his grade six classroom after their students had just watched a video on YouTube. And he was holding a microphone and he was walking around the room, putting the mic in front of students and they were sharing what they learned from watching this video. He quite literally turned his classroom into a performance, into a stage, into an auditorium. It was a really cool call. And it made me think about how when we use technology efficiently, it amplifies the experience in the classroom. What are some of the things that teachers can do to create better experiences in their classrooms leveraging and using technology?

Jeff Bradbury
You know, I was talking about this earlier. As a teacher, you only have one job, and it is to inspire. And how do we do that depends on the student, but I like to do my best to open their eyes up a little bit. You know, in my current position, I started in this school district in January of this year. And you could tell right away that my class or the class that I was creating was just a little bit different than what they were used to. And it took a little bit of time for them to get used to me, my energy and my, you know, sense of teaching and the way that I present lessons and stuff like that. But the students who really took to it, it was amazing to see their transformation. When they walked in, they were ready to go and they’re looking for different models and projects and you name it, and they were becoming creators in just the short amount of time that we had. It was a semester course.

Jeff Bradbury
So I always try to help teachers and students figure out ways to inspire others. I’m just of that belief, it’s not my job to teach, it’s your job to learn. But the only way to do that is by inspiring them to want to be able to do that. And that goes back to being a music director. You’re the only one on stage not making a sound. What’s your function? Your function is to get all of these minds together that can do this without you and get them on the right page and try to set the example for this is what the music should look like, this is what the composer intended, and here’s how we can work together to make that work. If not, it’s 50 people all trying to play the same thing, but they’re doing it differently. You have to set that example for this is the way that we move forward, and then hopefully you inspire everybody to move in that direction.

Sam Demma
An image of Whiplash, the movie, just came to mind, and they’re on stage and he’s beating the drums. 

Jeff Bradbury
And we said this in the music world, it’s the illusion of power. Just because you have a stick doesn’t mean anything. Just because you’re the one standing up with the paycheck in the classroom doesn’t mean anything. You need to get them to inspire. And you do the same thing. You get a chance to work with teachers and students, and you get a chance to travel all around the country. Your job is to inspire them. And I know you do a great job at that. I gotta ask you, what is it like seeing that inspiration on their faces when you’re working with them?

Sam Demma
That’s the work that keeps you coming back. Those are the moments that remind you that the things you’re doing matter. For me, it’s the aha moments when people are nodding their heads in the crowd or approaching you afterward to share a personal story about how something you said impacted them. And crazy enough, it’s things that I’m not even thinking are impactful are connecting the most with certain people because we don’t know what they’re going through or what their experiences are like and how they’re making connections with their own personal examples. Exactly. You have a big conference coming up. Tell us a little bit about it and what you hope to share with the audience.

Jeff Bradbury
You know, the big EdTech conference, called ISTE, I-S-T-E, happens every single summer. I’ve been doing this for the last 12 years or so. Essentially, 20,000 educators overtake a city and they do it in the name of how can we better help our students? And so when you have probably, you know, the equivalent of eight football fields worth of vendor floor, and you have thousands of sessions and panels and keynotes and forums happening all at the same time, magic happens every single year. And I love the opportunity to get out there, not only just to learn, but also to meet people who listen to the show and have a chance to read all the content. It’s great to get to network, but really the best part is just taking a breath. It’s still a business trip, not a vacation. It is that opportunity to get out and just to meet people and to see what is happening in other classrooms and then to bring those ideas back to your school district.

Sam Demma
I’ve met many educators who talk about having a side passion, hobby, or project along with their job. Not many that have done such a phenomenal job creating a project like that, like yourself. What are some of the things you think help you manage both the work as an instructional coach and digital strategist with building the business?

Jeff Bradbury
I have an amazing wife. And it always starts there. This doesn’t happen by itself. And if it does happen by itself, then more often than not, you are by yourself, right? But you need to have a good partner in this world that allows you to be, to do all of this craziness at all hours of the day. And I mean, all hours of the day. But really, you have to have a vision. This is what I’m looking for. It has to also be personal. I’m always the first to say, the work that’s on TeacherCast I’m always the first to say, the work that’s on TeacherCast is for everybody. I’m bringing you on a show, as I did, and we’re gonna have a conversation, and hopefully somebody learns from that. Hopefully somebody, you know, reaches out to you. Maybe somebody’s inspired. Maybe they send it to their kid, and they’re like, I wanna fill my backpack too. But to be honest, the whole project is also very self-serving. The reason it started is because people were asking me questions I didn’t have the answers to. So I created a podcast and I brought you on to it. And I did that again and I did that again. So on one hand, it is my backpack. On one hand, it is my resource hub that if I ever say I need to learn about X, Y, and Z, where do I find the answers? Well, it’s my website. And if I’m creating something that’s useful for me that hopefully is useful for other people. And I always say, if I can help out one teacher, I’m helping 30 students. If I can help out one principal, I’m helping 30 teachers. If I help out a superintendent, I’m helping 30 buildings. And when you get a chance to work in educational technology, you’re helping out 30 states. And it’s that connection of, the smallest ripple in the water always expands. And again, as you mentioned, you never know where that ripple is gonna go.

Sam Demma
The idea of the ripple effect, starting from the superintendent to the principal to the teachers, the student, is such an impactful way to think about serving more people. There’s a lot of teachers I’ve interviewed who talk about making the jump to administration because of that desire to serve. Where did that desire to serve come from in you personally?

Jeff Bradbury
I always look forward and I always try to get to that next level of things because again, you have a bigger audience and you have a new challenge. And, OK, you’ve done this. Well, what else can you do or how many other ways can you do it? And to have the opportunity to serve teachers and mentor and work with, that’s an amazing opportunity. And also it’s a challenge. You’ve got a lot of personalities, you have a lot of egos, you have a lot of policies, you’ve got a lot of challenges, you’ve got all those different things all wrapped up in one. For me, that’s fun. For me, that’s inspiring. And to have the opportunity to then send all that knowledge back and share it with my own kids at the end of the day, that’s pretty cool. When you think of the folks who have mentored you

Sam Demma
When you think of the folks who have mentored you that have played an instrumental role in your life, who are some of those people and what did they do for you that had a really big impact?

Jeff Bradbury
Well, I like the pun for instrumental, first of all. And you know, when I look at that particular term, you know, don’t let people stop you. Right. You can go back 250 years or so. Beethoven was deaf and he still wrote a massive symphony. Don’t let anything around you stop you from doing what you want. Many, many years ago, you know, she wasn’t my wife at the time, but we were at her college, and we were in a studio, and I saw this cup, and the cup said on it, if you think you can or can’t, you’re probably right. And it was a quote from Henry Ford. And for whatever reason, that stuck with me and stuck with me. And that just kind of became that thing. I’m also from Philadelphia, so I always have that chip on my shoulder. Like, you know, don’t don’t don’t tell me that we can’t do this. We’re going to do this right. And it’s always next year. So this whole concept of if you think you can go ahead and do this, you can. And so if you think that you can leave your nest of being an orchestra teacher and head into a completely different career, do it. If you think you can talk to a superintendent and look at them eye to eye and say, this is my thought on how you can run your school district, do it. If you think you can handle having triplets, do it. And if you think you can go work for Microsoft, do it. And I’ve had an opportunity to really, you know, put myself out there and say, here’s what I think. You can take it or you leave it. Some people have taken it, some people have left it, but at the same time, as you’re the example, what do you want to say to the world? Everybody here has a voice and every voice has, you know, substance behind it to matter.

Sam Demma
It sounds like Henry Ford was an inspiration. I noticed you had a quote from him in your TEDx talk. What does it mean to have a spark of innovation?

Jeff Bradbury
At the end of all of my shows, I always end with the following, you know, keep up the great work in your classrooms and continue sharing your passions with your students. And I say that at the end of my talks, I say that at the end of my classes, I say that, and it’s just this idea that no matter where you are, keep sharing something about yourself. Somebody is gonna pick it up and run with it. Somewhere that spark is gonna then create a flame. And you don’t know if that’s somebody’s kids, your kid, a PD session, you never know. When you’re a conductor, you perform, you turn around, and hopefully they’re clapping for you and then everybody goes home. What you don’t know is maybe there’s a three-year-old in the audience that’s going to pick up the violin tomorrow because they saw you. Or what you don’t realize is that, you know, there is somebody who was inspired by that performance to come up and say, hey, I’d like to be in that orchestra. I’d like to try out for your group. You never know where these things are. In technology, it’s even harder. You do a show, you hit the publish button, and you forget about it. There is no audience, there is no applause, and Google stats are, let’s face it, cold. But when you’re at a conference, or when you get an email from somebody, and they say, hey I listened to it and they’re like that got me moving and I’ll give you a quick story about this, you know many many many six or seven years ago at this point. I did a particular show on a particular topic and then three or four years later I was at ISTE and somebody walks up I listen to that and it inspired me to create this conference in Buffalo and because of that And you just see the ripple effect. I had clearly no idea that all this was going on, but when somebody walks up and goes, that was the reason why, and it all just, kind of cool.

Sam Demma
Yeah, spark of innovation. You create those by sharing pieces of yourself with the world. What is a piece of yourself that you have not shared, or a project you’re working on that not many people know about, or something that you think teacher listening might benefit from hearing? Those are three questions in one. Choose which one you like most.

Jeff Bradbury
Take advice, but don’t always listen. You know, everybody has an opinion. So it’s okay to ask for people’s advice. But at the end of the day, you’re the one that’s going around the sun. And so you need to make those decisions. And it’s easy and cliche to go back to, remember that freshman day one, look to the left, look to the right. One of you is not gonna be that speech. I don’t like that. My philosophy is look to the left, look to the right, don’t make their mistakes. I’m never gonna wish that the guy next to me is not here, right? Look around you to see what’s not working. When I, for example, make websites, I have 20 sites up in front of me. I’m learning from all of that information. When I’m writing a blog post, I have all the blog, you know, the high-end bloggers up in front of me, all their content, trying to figure out what’s an intro, what’s a middle, what’s a closing, what’s all of that stuff. Learn from what’s happening around you. Always keep your eyes open because you never know when you’re the one that people are going to be asking. Before coming on this show, I just got two emails saying, would you like to be on a panel at this conference? Yeah, because that’s an amazing opportunity and what an honor to be asked to do all those different things. So always look around you and you never know when you’re the one that’s gonna have the opportunity to inspire others.

Sam Demma
I have a question about some advice from you and I will listen. What are your favorite tech tools that you use that teachers might benefit from learning about or exploring? 

Jeff Bradbury
I’ll throw the question back at you. What’s the one thing that nobody can give you but you always want to have? And the answer is time. And so because of that, when people ask me that question of what’s your favorite, what should they have, or what’s the best, my answer is always, remember, these are all tools. What is going to give you the opportunity to reflect yourself but save you time? I’ll give you an example.

Jeff Bradbury
Movie creating, right? You’re going to, you’re recording this podcast, you’re going to edit this podcast, you’re going to produce this podcast. I’m sure there was a reason for you selecting each of those pieces of technologies. For myself, I’ve chosen my toolbox for no reason other than I memorized the keyboard shortcuts. Doesn’t mean that it’s a better product, a worse product or whatever. If you ask me what my favorite video editor is, I’m gonna give you an option and say, but I don’t use that. You’re gonna say, why not? Well, because I’ve already memorized the keyboard shortcuts over here for this one. So I can do a quicker product over here, even though this one’s got, you know, full and AI and it’s all wonderful and it’s brand new and all that stuff. I’m still using my 10 year old product because I can get through it in five minutes and then I can go be dad. So for me, the best products that are out there are the ones that allow you to express yourself to the best of your abilities and give you the most time back in return. Very vague answer, I get it, but. It’s a helpful answer, though.

Sam Demma
It’s a helpful answer, though. It sounds like step one is to figure out the end result. So for you it was produce and publish a podcast, and then the second question is how can I do that in the quickest way possible, and then you use the tools that drive that efficiency up. 

Jeff Bradbury
My job is not to edit video. My job is to give and get hugs.

Sam Demma
Ah, I love that. Now, how long did it take you to write your new book? I’m sure that was a laborous process. 

Jeff Bradbury
13 years. The book officially started off as a, I’d like to make a book teaching others how to podcast. 13 years ago and nobody picked it up. And so that then turned into, I’d like to make a book about audio and video recording. Nobody wanted that. And then that turned into, let’s do a book about instructional coaching. There was a lot of those coming around. And so I just kept trying and trying and trying and trying and trying. And eventually you find somebody And so I just kept trying and trying and trying and trying and trying. And eventually you find somebody that’s going to answer the door. And eventually it’s OK. This is what it is. And then you get some more ideas and you get some more ideas. And so ninety seven thousand words later we are ready to go. And I have a cover and I’m just I’m at the end of the ballgame here. And it’s just a matter of it’s a time game right now. But again, if you think you can go do something, go do it. And I’m just that person. I’m not going to let anybody tell me no. So there are companies that did turn me down three times. I gave them book A. I gave them book B. I gave them book C. And they’re like, nope, sorry, nope, nope, not, mm-mm, not, mm. And I, okay. But after each one of those, I always had the conversation, why not? What do you look for in a book? And so if you go through and read my manuscript, what you don’t realize is that you’re actually reading six or seven publishers full of advice and information and how to and what not and all those other things. That’s amazing. When can people expect the book? My hope is holiday season. I don’t have an exact date yet, but hopefully by the holidays. I don’t know, but you can always find out. If you follow everything over at teachercast.net, you’ll get the information.

Sam Demma
So people can follow you at teachercast.net. Where else on the internet can they find you?

Jeff Bradbury
Basically everything that says TeacherCast, I’m attached to my LinkedIn is teachercast.net/LinkedIn/teachercast.net/Twitter/Facebook /Instagram/you name it its all. It’s all short links. 

Sam Demma
Jeff you’re a lighthouse man. I really appreciate you spreading some of it on the show here today. Keep up the amazing work you’re doing, enjoy the conference this summer, the book release and I look forward to staying in touch and reading your words.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Jeff Bradbury

The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.

Crystina Cardozo — Math Coach at Pine Grove Manor School (NJ), Speaker and Real Estate Investor

Crystina Cardozo — Math Coach at Pine Grove Manor School (NJ), Speaker and Real Estate Investor
About Crystina Cardozo

Crystina Cardozo is a current math coach at Pine Grove Manor School. She started her career teaching high school and college level math. She also worked as a director of a tutoring math center for k-8 students. She is currently working as a math coach at an elementary school. Because she has worked with kindergarten to college students she knows where their math journey begins and where math will take them as an adult. Crystina has a heart for education and has always enjoyed numbers.

Stemming from her love of numbers and passion for educating people on finances Crystina has also built a business where she teaches parents, children, and teachers the importance of personal finance and the practical math needed in everyday life.

With a degree in mathematics and a masters in math education she is making it a priority to end the stigma that complicated math is needed in order to be financially literate.

Connect with Crystina: Email | Instagram | LinkedIn

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

Pine Grove Manor School

Ed.M. with Certification in Mathematics Education – Rutger University

Bachelors Degree, Mathematics – Rutger University

How to become a better Financial Role Model for my child

The Transcript

**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
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host, Sam Demma. Today’s special guest is a new friend of mine, Crystina Cardozo. Christina is a current math coach at Pine Grove Manor School. She started her career teaching high school and college level math. She also worked as a director of a tutoring math center for K-8 students and is currently working as a math coach at an elementary school. Because she has worked with kindergarten to college students, she knows where their math journey begins and where math will take them as an adult. Crystina has a heart for education and has always enjoyed numbers. Stemming from her love of numbers and passion for educating people on finances, Crystina has also built a business where she teaches parents, children, and teachers the importance of personal finance and the practical math needed in everyday life. With a degree in mathematics and a master’s in math education, she is making it a priority to end the stigma that complicated math is needed in order to be financially literate. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Crystina, and I will see you on the other side.

Sam Demma
And today I’m very excited to bring a special guest that I met through a mutual friend of both of ours, Jasmine Paul, shout out Jasmine if you’re listening to this. Today’s special guest is Crystina Cardozo. Crystina, can you please, for all the educators tuning in, quickly just introduce yourself.

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so thank you so much for having me on the show, Sam. I’m super excited, especially because this is for educators. So my name is Christina Cardozo and I am a math educator. I started teaching high school, college level math. I was a director of a math tutoring center, but now for the last eight years I’ve been working as a math coach in an elementary school. So I’ve really seen it all from like kindergarten to college level math. Where did your passion for numbers start or come from? Yeah, so I can blame that on my mom because she’s a CPA and she always, you know, she would talk about numbers. She would show me numbers in terms of budgeting and so forth and money, but I just always had a thing for numbers and a passion. And I also found it, it came pretty easy for me. And I think that’s why I gravitated towards it.

Sam Demma
And you can tell that Christina loves numbers because her social media handles are, @sherunsthenumbers.

Crystina Cardozo
Yes.

Sam Demma
Across all platforms. A passion for numbers could take you in so many different directions. You could have ended up as a CPA. Did you know growing up that you wanted to teach and be working in education?

Crystina Cardozo
Yes, so because I watched my mom work as a CPA, I remember back in the day she would bring me with her to work on Bring Your Child to Work Day, and she would actually put me to work. And I just realized that as much as I love numbers, I don’t want to just sit still and kind of work behind the scenes or behind a computer and just, you know, work on numbers like that. And the more I was enjoying math in my math class, I was like, wow, I really like numbers and I really like how, you know, my teachers are teaching or specifically it was one teacher who I was just like, man, I could do a better job than him. That was actually in high school. And he is the one who inspired me to become a math educator because he was actually that bad.

Sam Demma
Was it struggling with the way he taught his lessons or a lack of knowledge?

Crystina Cardozo
No, it wasn’t a lack of knowledge, but it was how he presented it to the class and he wasn’t really engaging. He didn’t connect with us. Meanwhile, I’m tutoring all my friends in that class, but I had to kind of teach it to myself and then help my friends. And really, it was a high school class and I’m like, if I could do this, then maybe this is my calling. Maybe I should be a math teacher.

Sam Demma
A lot of math teachers ask themselves the question, how do I make math fun? How do I make math engaging? How do I get students excited about math? In your experience, how do you do that?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so I think you really have to connect to your students and you have to do some hands-on activities, you know. It’s easier depending on what the subject is. So for example, I remember specifically when I took a geometry class in high school, that was actually one class I struggled in. And it’s funny because a lot of people who like geometry usually don’t like math or algebra. And I loved algebra and every other class but geometry. And then I took the class in college, I had to take a geometry class. And then when I student taught, that was one course that I was required to student teach. And my love of geometry completely switched. Like I was having the students really do hands-on activities, and it became one of my favorite classes to student teach. And then when I became a high school math teacher, that was actually a course that I was teaching on a full-time level, and I enjoyed it even more. So I think when you can really, like I said, connect to your kids and just do fun things, hands-on activities where the kids can actually do something physically that they’re going to remember later, then it just makes it a lot more fun.

Sam Demma
Out of all the hands-on activities you’ve done or continue to do with students, what is one that you enjoy the most or return to if you’re with a new group because you know it’s really impactful and people love participating in it?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so I’m going to think back to when I was teaching algebra at the high school level and I remember teaching slope. And I actually created this big board where there was a car. And it’s funny because it was with high schoolers, but I literally took like Velcro and I had this car like driving up the slope and I was trying to explain to students, you know, from left to right, you know, this is a positive slope or left to right if it’s going down the hill is negative And then I just saw the kids like, you know as if a light bulb went off like oh I get it now So I literally had to physically I created this, I Created this project and then I remember doing it with my class and I did it every year with my class So they watched me do it and then it just it stuck with them, you know? And they ended up telling me, man, you know, we’ve been learning algebra, let’s say, since Algebra 1, I think this was an Algebra 2 course that I was teaching, and they also are, they also talk about slope and geometry as well. So I think it was like two or three years that they had heard of slope, but it just wasn’t clicking. So when you do these hands-on activities, something fun like that, then I know it was an activity that they probably didn’t ever forget and then it just stuck in their mind what it really represented. 

Sam Demma
I love the idea of building a visual that people can hold, grab, and interact with in the classroom. I loved those types of experiences. I never had them in math class. So math teachers, there’s one great idea right there. When you think about your role teaching in the classroom versus your role today, what is the main difference? Because there might be some educators listening who don’t have math coaches in their buildings and would love to be one, propose it to their school boards, or just better understand what the role is. 

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah. So, a lot of people, when I talk to teachers and I explain to them what I do, that I support the teachers, right? So I run grade level meetings. Let’s say I have a first grade level meeting and we’re talking about data or we’re talking about their timeline and we’re talking about activities and we’re talking about all the things to prep or things that they’re struggling in and we’re literally meeting with other teachers too but I’m facilitating that meeting. It’s just a time for them to reflect, to talk to other people and then I can give them ideas. I feel like as a math coach, I actually learn so much because when you’re a math teacher, you’re really just stuck in your one class, right? And you don’t get to see all the great things that other people are doing. So as a math coach, luckily, I’m able to go into so many other classes. And then sometimes during a grade level meeting, I’ll share it with other teachers. Like, oh, I just saw this one teacher do this amazing thing, so I can bring that up. But yeah, it is really like a luxury, people tell me, because we also create assessments as math coaches. And that’s something that if you don’t have a coach, sometimes you, and you’re teaching all these other subjects, but sometimes you’re also responsible for teaching your own assessments. You have to figure out your data on your own. So if you do see that position, and you have some experience as a math teacher, then I would definitely look into that.

Sam Demma
What does the day in the life of a math coach look like from start of the school day to end of the school day?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so every day it’s different. Some days we might meet with other math coaches. So we specifically, we have seven elementary schools in our district, so there’s seven of us math coaches, so we’ll all meet together, and then it’s ran by the math supervisor. So she’ll have a message for us, and then we make sure that we relay those messages to our teachers in our own buildings. And then mostly in our own buildings, we are meeting a lot with the principal because we wanna make sure we’re on the same page with the principal, and our principal always wants to make sure, like, she knows what’s going on because we have more insight into, let’s say, the math classrooms than she might be able to know. You know, we are also working, like I said before, on assessments, on data, looking at preparing for our next meetings. And then when we have more free time, if we’re not, you know, looking at budgets and orders and so forth, then we can actually go into the classrooms. And then we also meet with teachers one-on-one, specifically new teachers. But what’s also nice is we can just pop in in a classroom and we can be a second pair of pants for those math teachers.

Sam Demma
It sounds like the numbers are a big part of your life, not only with teachers, but with students, with assessments. Tell me a little bit about, and the educator listening to this, all the different ways you use numbers in your everyday life, including some of your own ventures.

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so I do love numbers, and I think what I love most about it is just the real life application. And so I get excited when I’m looking through a math problem, and sometimes you see silly math problems, like, you know, if Johnny’s going to the supermarket and buying 50 cauliflowers, right? Like that’s not realistic. That’s not a real life application. But sometimes you come across these math problems where they are real life application. And personally, I’ve actually taken it a little bit further. I think it’s this combination of growing up with my mom as a CPA and always working with numbers, but with money, I specifically have grown this business where I teach parents, teachers, and children about personal finance, and so the math you need in financial literacy. And so many people, I believe, so many people have this math anxiety, and that’s what hinders them from actually getting comfortable with money, because they just look at it like there’s numbers, right? And because they have this math anxiety, they’re thinking and they say, I can’t do numbers, I can’t do math, right? And they just accept that. And so that means they won’t even try and look at a budget or they won’t even try to look at a spreadsheet, right? Because they just associate that these numbers and I can’t add and subtract, right? Or so forth are all related when it’s not.

Sam Demma
I remember the first time I got a credit card and my dad sat me down and gave me a good lesson on ensuring I make my monthly payments or else. And I’m curious, what are some of those real life application scenarios you would be sharing with educators, parents, and students? It’s definitely different because they’re in different age ranges but what are some of those examples you share with them and talk through during your sessions, your workshops, or even just one-on-one conversations?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so one big thing that I do talk about is credit cards, and the reason why is because I know for a fact, because I know people who were victims of this, that when you go off to college, sometimes there are events hosted at the college, and there are many credit card companies, and they’re actually telling young adults that, oh, you just need to pay the minimum. So if you, as a parent, don’t give your child that lesson, you know, then what’s going to happen is they might hear that for the first time from somebody else, like from a credit card company, telling them the wrong things, and then that can just change the trajectory of their life, right? And then they might not be comfortable with talking about money. So that’s another big thing that I talk about, making sure that money is not a taboo topic in the house. I really stress that. So I have two young boys, they’re six and ten, and they know that we can just talk money, right? And not like I’m lecturing to them, but they just feel comfortable enough with me that they can ask me, you know, my six-year-old just asked me like, where’s your money? Because he has money that he saves in a jar and he’s just like looking through my drawers like where is your jar? Where is the money you keep? And so it’s just, you know, we’re really comfortable about talking about things and he’s not too young. You know, a lot of times people think that kids are too young if they’re six, but there’s actually studies that kids as young as three years old know the basics of needs versus wants, right? And that’s where it all starts. And then kids as young as seven actually have the skills that will carry with them through adulthood. So, and they’re learning all these skills just by watching parents. So again, talking about money, like a non-taboo topic, and then something as simple as like credit cards because that’s pretty huge.

Sam Demma
What do you think educators need to hear when it comes to financial literacy, or what are some of the things you would share in a workshop for teachers? 

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so the workshops that I do with teachers are actually for personal finance and business teachers. So they’re the ones that are teaching those high school students anyways. So yeah. So I make sure that they’re doing something that’s relatable to students, right? Like we’ll talk about crypto because a lot of times kids are talking about crypto anyways to their friends. So, you know, that’s a conversation. Let’s have a conversation with other teachers because you don’t want to say the wrong thing or you don’t want to say, you know, I don’t know and you don’t want to be open to learning because what’s going to happen is they’re going to get their news or their information maybe from a wrong person or from social media. And we can’t guarantee that that is always the right information.

Sam Demma
I love that. It’s so important that those conversations are had so that we make educated choices. I think back to a time in my life where I had a group of friends who were like, Sam, you got to invest in these four stocks. I did the research. It’s going to be amazing. And I guess I was just absorbed by the energy of these folks and invested in some stuff and totally tanked. I had a terrible financial disaster from that little situation. Luckily, it wasn’t a crazy amount of money or anything like that. But I think having conversations like the ones you’re mentioning in a classroom setting, in school, would have helped me make a better choice in the future. I’m curious, have you had any financial challenges yourself? Sometimes when we want to help other people with certain things, it’s because we’ve had previous experience in our own lives. And of course, only if you’re comfortable sharing. I’m just curious if there’s any personal connection to finance. Yeah, for sure. So I think I was really good

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, for sure. So I think I was really good with saving my money. As a kid, I had a journal. Well, first of all, let’s say my mom actually introduced me to the envelope method when I was a child. So I had an envelope for saving, spending and for giving. So I knew the basics of savings at a really young age. She opened up a bank account for me and I remember, you know, stocking my coins and, you know, any allowance money or any money that I got, birthday money or whatever, and bringing it to the bank. That was fun. I worked as early as I could. So for me at the time, it was age 14 was the legal age for me to start working, and that’s when I started working. And I had other extracurricular activities, but for me, it was really important that I wanted to work. And so I wanted to make my own money. So fast forward many years, I got really good with saving, and I was able to save a good chunk of money, but I didn’t really learn the power of investing, right? And I find that I wasn’t really financially whole until I learned the power of investing. And what I did learn in my journey is that you can’t save your way to wealth. And that’s a message that I tell parents because sometimes parents or adults they think, you know, well I can’t reach that amount of money, I can’t, that goal is too big or it’s non-realistic. But the thing is if you don’t start somewhere you’re never going to get anywhere. And also you have to realize that now we have the beauty of investing, like fractional shares, and you don’t need a whole lot of money to get started investing. There’s not the fees that there were just a few years ago. And so, that’s one thing that I didn’t know until later was the power of investing. And once I learned that, to me, I just want to make sure that I share that message, especially with parents, because parents can start so young for their kids. Like for my son, he already has a retirement account already open. And that’s going to be huge, because he has so long to go.

Crystina Cardozo
But if you are, anyone listening, is a business owner, you can have your child work as an employee. And there’s no age requirement to be an employee. So you’re able, once you establish your child as an employee, then you can open up a Roth retirement account. It’s actually a custodial Roth retirement account. Besides other things like 529 plans for colleges and so forth, which is what I had right when they both were babies, but that’s one thing. A retirement account is just going to grow for decades for my kids. So that’s an important thing that I love to share.

Sam Demma
I love the idea of getting started as early as possible. I also love the phrase, you can’t save your way to wealth. How do you personally define wealth when talking about it with other people? 

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so for me, being wealthyis just kind of enjoying your life, right? So you’re not stressed out with the day-to-day, I have to work, I have to go maybe to this miserable job or I’m living paycheck to paycheck, right? And also I think about wealth and being financially literate as just having this plan, right, you have this plan of action, you know when you’re gonna retire, you know what is coming in in terms of income, you know what is going out in terms of expenses, right? It doesn’t mean if you’re wealthy that you’re not working, but you have a plan in action of maybe, you know, when you’re going to retire, maybe that’s retiring early, and there’s this whole movement with that as well. And so I believe really, if you can reach the point that you know, you have multiple sources of income, that’s another thing. You have things that are working for you in case you might lose that job. And I think we all learned that with COVID, right? It’s important to have other sources of income. Then I think you’re on your path to, you know, wealth.

Sam Demma
You’ve toyed with the idea of creating books on financial literacy. You’ve developed programs locally in your community. What are some of the resources that you’ve drawn on or found very valuable when educating yourself about financial literacy?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah. So, podcasts are huge. I do love listening to podcasts. And it’s funny because that’s actually, while I was listening to a podcast, my son was absorbing information as well. He was seven at the time. He’s 10 now. And I was listening to a podcast in the car and I was really thinking about making the shift of just being in control of my own retirement accounts instead of having a financial advisor I was just like oh I can do this by myself and I was just reading different books and learning and so forth So I’d say books, podcasts, YouTube. Those are all great information, you know talking to different financial advisors as well Just to be educated on the topic. But it was a podcast that I realized my son was absorbing this information. And then I heard him talk to other family and friends about investing in real estate and investing in stocks. And I’m like, the boy is seven. I haven’t even sat down and talked to him about this. And then he told me that he wanted to open up an investment account. And I looked at him like, what? And he was like, yeah, we heard on the podcast. And again, I’m thinking he’s not paying attention. But he was like, no, I was listening and I wanna open up my own, you know, brokerage account and invest. I remember asking him, what do you wanna invest in? He’s like, Tesla. And so I wish I would have invested, you know, a significant amount when he said that. Because this was, you know, this was three years ago, over three years ago. But anyways, you know how they say, the kids will do what you do and not what you say. And so I think that’s an important message to really just listen, be open to learning different things. If it’s, you know, if books are your thing, you know, audio books or podcasts, I think there are so many great resources to just expanding your knowledge.

Sam Demma
I love it. Podcasts is a great one. People that are listening to this right now are getting some of that information through the Podcast Avenue. Books are awesome as well. Can you talk a little bit about your book concept or idea? I know there’s a lot of educators that are listening to this that would just love to hear about that brainchild of yours.

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so the book that I’m writing. So I’m writing a fictional graphic novel for children. Hopefully it will be out within the next month or two illustrations are taking a little bit longer than expected. But the whole idea behind it is a fictional book, so kids are actually, hopefully they’re like hooked to this storyline. And it’s about kids who love soccer, but there’s so much more that I’ve attached to that. So they go to this Academy and they also learn of financial literacy skills that are also associated with the game and the sport of soccer. And so I tied those two together because there’s so many life skills that you can get from both soccer and financial literacy. So I was able to try to merge those skills together. And yeah, so I’m super excited for it. And the person who I was writing the book for is my son, who is 10 years old. And so that’s really the age group that I’m gearing it towards. Maybe 8 to 12 year olds would still enjoy it. But yeah, I’m super excited for that.

Sam Demma
I’m sure I’m super excited about it. I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone who’s listening. They’re also super excited about it. When it’s available, they would love to grab a copy and reach out and ask questions. What would be the best way for them to follow along your journey to see that and other things that you continue to work on in 2024 and onward?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah. So, I’m also a real estate investor. I do love running the numbers and those aspects. I do also talk about personal finance with my own kids. So, I’m mostly active on Instagram. You can find me at She Runs The Numbers on Instagram, or you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m a little less active there, but yeah, definitely feel free to send me a message. I will always respond and I can connect with you or help you with any questions that you have.

Sam Demma
If you could go back and speak to your younger self when you maybe had some hesitation around getting involved in your own finances because of the fear that surrounds the space, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self when you were just getting into it?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, I would say definitely have a plan. So I also knew at a young age, I’ll share this story. So when I was studying to be a teacher in college, there was a time where we had a specific retirement age, I think age 52 or 55. And then while I was in college, like it was literally like the last year that I was graduating, they upped it. And then I think a few more years they upped it again. And so all I kept saying was, I, then they changed different things. Like before health insurance used to be included when you were to retire. And that still was the case when I was in college. So all the teachers knew that they didn’t have to pay health insurance when they retire, but then things change and so forth. So anyways when I graduated from college, I kept saying I’m not gonna work until I’m 65 You know like how you know They just increased it by 10 years and I kept saying I’m not going to work until this age But I didn’t have a plan and so now if I can go back, I would have started my plan really early and say, okay, I can be on track to retire at a much earlier age, but I need to have a plan. How much am I investing? How much am I putting away into multiple buckets to guarantee me to not work until I’m 65? And I didn’t learn that until later on to really make that action plan.

Sam Demma
And you mentioned it just briefly that one of the buckets you spend most of your time investing in learning about is real estate. Is there a reason why you dove so deeply into real estate as opposed to all the other options? 

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, so I kind of stumbled across real estate maybe 12 or 13 years ago. My husband and I were looking for a place to live and we’re looking for an apartment. And then I was also doing some math and figuring out, well, if we put down this amount of money for this house, which is a really, you know, the lowest amount possible, which was 3.5%, if we only put down 3.5%, our mortgage and the current rate of rent is going to be the same thing. And actually we’re gonna get so much more if we buy this house. And so we went down that path and we actually decided whatever place that we buy, we wanna make sure that we can house half, where we can have some area of the house that we can rent out to other people. So we found this house and we closed on it and it actually had a walkout basement. We created like a three bedroom apartment downstairs and it pretty much paid for our mortgage. Really early on, I found the power of real estate. Even at that point, I realized, wow, my mortgage is almost paid for, but I didn’t realize until years later about the power of appreciation. When you combine having your mortgage almost paid for and you have the power of appreciation, then that was a no brainer. Like, wow, real estate is something that, you know, it just had the light bulb go off. Like, wow, this is something that we can feasibly do at that time. Now it’s a little bit more challenging, right? But it’s something that we can do that’s going to get us closer to, you know, creating this, you know, building wealth for ourselves. And I still believe that real estate is the way to go. I think you just really have to be careful with like running your numbers and just analyzing deals before you make a decision. And this can go for your primary house too, because just because it’s your primary house doesn’t mean that you want to make a bad decision. And a lot of times we make emotional decisions when we buy that primary house. So I would say make a rational decision, still make sure that your numbers make sense, still think about the appreciation in the area before you make that big final purchase of a house.

Sam Demma
It’s such good advice to keep in mind, even for myself as I’m entering into my mid-20s, not quite there yet, but I’ll be thinking about that. For busy educators listening to this who might be overwhelmed with the idea of diving into buying properties or fixing up properties or hunting down cool deals, maybe the first step is house hacking. Can you talk a little bit about what house hacking is, just in case there’s any educators that aren’t aware of it?

Crystina Cardozo
Yes, so house hacking is where you literally have a portion of your house that generates income. Now for some people, that might be you get a three-bedroom house and you rent out two of those three bedrooms to your friends. Or it might be like you are renting out your garage or your driveway or your backyard pool. There’s so many apps nowadays that allows you to rent out different portions of your house. But if you have this space and you can actually generate income from it, then that’s always the first approach that I think that I would suggest. And I did it with kids. My son was, up until he was two, we were still house hacking before we moved to the other house. So I get it. Some people are like, oh, I can’t do that. I have kids.

Crystina Cardozo
I did it. I had a newborn, even though we had somebody living downstairs. It’s kind of like apartment living in a way, but you think about what sacrifices are you willing to make. If I told you that you could have almost your whole mortgage paid off, would that be a sacrifice that you would be ready to commit to? So you have to weigh your options.

Sam Demma
Is there any odd part of the house you’ve heard someone rent out or house hack before that made you laugh or chuckle because even you thought, oh, that was impossible?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, I mean, I think when I heard about the driveway, I was like, really? Like there’s an app to rent out your driveway? And I will tell you, my neighbor does that too. And so he actually has two driveways, which is just amazing. Because he can literally keep two of his cars on one side and then he rents to a landscaping company for the other side. So they have like their landscaping trucks, like a few trucks on his driveway, but he rents that out.

Sam Demma
That’s so smart. And it’s such an easy way to get started with making another little stream of revenue and investing your money and your time somewhere. This has been a phenomenal conversation. So many ideas. My mind is going in a hundred different directions. I’m excited for your book. I’m excited to hack my house when I make a rational decision to make my first home purchase. Just again, reiterate, where can educators or any of the listeners connect with you online if they want to ask a question or follow your journey?

Crystina Cardozo
Yeah, for sure. Connect with me on Instagram @sherunsthenumbers. Again, my name is Crystina. And you could also connect with me on LinkedIn and you can find me at Crystina Cardozo on LinkedIn.

Sam Demma
Christina, this was such a great conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time. Keep running the numbers and I’ll talk to you soon.

Crystina Cardozo
Thank you so much for having me, Sam. It’s been a blast.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Crystina Cardozo

The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.

Ted Temertzoglou — Highly sought-out speaker and lead author on health,  physical literacy and well-being

Ted Temertzoglou — Highly sought-out speaker and lead author on health, physical literacy and well-being
About Ted Temertzoglou

Ted (@LifeIsAtheltic) believes in a world where the skills learned through Health & Physical Education enable all to lead authentic, happy and fulfilling lives. He creates this world by working with Governments, School Boards to implement UNESCO’s Quality Physical Education Guidelines. Ted is an advocate and thought leader for quality Health and Physical Education. He is a highly sought-out speaker and lead author on health & physical literacy and well-being.

With a Master’s Degree in teacher-student relationships and 33 years of educational experience, Ted shares his expertise to help more teachers and students flourish and thrive. He is the recipient of the R. Tait McKenzie Award, Physical & Health Education Canada’s most distinguished award. He is also a certified Personal Trainer with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

Connect with Ted: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

R. Tait McKenzie Award

Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP)

Outlive by Peter Attia

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) – Teacher Education

Brock University – Master’s Degree in teacher-student relationships

The Transcript

**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
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator Podcast. This is your host, author, and keynote speaker, Sam Demma. Today’s special guest is Ted Temertzoglou. Ted believes in a world where the skills learned through health and physical education enable all to lead authentic, happy, and fulfilling lives. He creates this world by working with governments, and school boards to implement the UNESCO’s Quality Physical Education Guidelines. Ted is an advocate and thought leader for quality health and physical education. He’s a highly sought out speaker and lead author on health and physical literacy and well-being. With a master’s degree in teaching student relationships and 33 years of educational experience, Ted shares his expertise to help more teachers and students flourish and thrive. He is the recipient of the R. Kate McKenzie Award, Physical and Health Education’s Most Distinguished Award, and also a certified personal trainer with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Ted. It left me very energized, and I’m sure it’ll do the same for you. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the other side. Welcome back to another episode of the High-Performing Educator Podcast. This is your host, keynote speaker and author, Sam Demma and I’m very excited to be joined by our guest today, Ted Tamurtsuglu. He is a friend of mine who is connected through a friend of mine named Joyce, and I’m honored to have him on the show here today. Ted, how are you?

Ted Temertzoglou
Good, Sam. I am super excited to be here with you, and thank you so much for asking me to be a part of your show. I gotta ask because the listeners can’t see what I can see. Behind you is a beautiful home gym. When did you get it, and when did fitness become a big part of your life? Oh, okay, so I’ll start backwards. So fitness has always been a part of my life. I’m an aspiring athlete through school, trying to acquire as much athleticism as I possibly can. And then this is our garage. We converted this, ah, about six years ago. We started building it. And because work got so busy, we weren’t able to get to the gym and stuff, so my kids work out of here, my wife works out of here, I work out of here every day, and now this is what we call Life is Athletic World Headquarters. This is where my work is. Did you have an experience in your own life that tested your health, that inspired you to take it more seriously, or did you just continue from your athletic journey as a student? Yeah, I know I really did, Sam. I knew, you know, I went to six elementary, I went to five elementary schools in six years. So like from kindergarten to grade six. And so that kind of put a pretty big strain on my numeracy and literacy skills as it did our entire family. My parents immigrated from Greece to here. But, you know, the people, the teachers that really kind of saw something in me were my health and physical education teachers. And it was because of them I went on this journey to figure out, you know, I want to do this for a living. It makes me feel good and I want to continue doing it. So that’s kind of really started, started at a really, really young age. I wasn’t an athlete by any means, but I acquired it because of the teachers that I had and the, you know, the areas that I happen to be in. So, yeah, that’s basically how I came to it. And at some point, you decided, not only do I want to feel healthy, but I want to help other people feel healthy too, especially people in the education industry. You know, you’re someone that I look up to for your physical fitness. And if there’s a teacher listening or a superintendent or a principal right now, and you haven’t talked to Ted about how to get your teachers and yourself healthy and feeling good, this is your sign to do so. When did supporting educators and other human beings in their physical health and mental health journey become a part of your story? Yeah, I’ve always wanted to do, Sam, similar to what you’ve done. So when I was younger and I was playing sports and then played on the university level, I always knew, at grade 11, I knew I wanted to be a physical health education teacher and a professional athlete Those were the two things that meant the world to me because I thought I could really affect change If you were kind of like on the world stage right or on a national stage and playing and playing professional football So I got to that level after University and I signed my contract with the Argos and then got hurt at that camp But had at least my education degree to fall back on. So as I got teaching, what I noticed in health and physical education is we didn’t have what was called evidence-based resources. So I kept on teaching the way I was taught. And that’s good for kids who like football and like soccer and like those sports, but the vast majority of kids, they’re not on school teams and they don’t like that stuff. So I thought, oh my goodness, I have to expand my pool here. So what I started to do is inquire about how do we get evidence-based resources into our school. And that’s what really exploded into teacher training. Tell me more about what you mean by evidence-based. Is it tested with large groups of people? I want to know more about the resources that you’ve created that might be of value to the listeners. What we did was in 2,000, 99, 98, 99, 2000, my wife and I were lucky enough to be chosen to write some curriculum for the Ministry of Education, for specifically health and phys ed. So they’re making a new curriculum. And, you know, when you’re in a math class, you have these beautiful textbooks or these visuals that are done by professors and with teachers. And it’s all based on evidence. And there’s so much evidence in the health and wellness field that applies to the health and phys ed curriculum. I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be great if we could get a publisher, get the best researchers, get their research, break that knowledge down where teachers can understand it to deliver it to our kids? Well, now we’re speaking from a place of evidence rather than a place of opinion. Like I may think I know what’s really good for kids as far as exercise progression, but do I really? Like, what does the science say? So that’s what I mean by evidence-based resources. And then we were lucky enough to create textbooks, workbooks, fitness charts that are used in many, many, many schools across Canada and some internationally. So that’s how we got it from there. 

Sam Demma
You started creating this curriculum, you built out these resources. Take me to today. How are you supporting students, schools, administrators, superintendents with their health and with their students and staff’s health today?

Ted Temertzoglou
Yeah, great question. So, largely across Canada, the exception being Manitoba, we don’t have what are called specialists in health and physical education at the younger years. So, what we call the foundation years or the physical literacy years, the years where kids minds are truly like clay and sponges and they absorb a whole bunch of stuff about movement. Whereas other countries like Germany, Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, et cetera, they do. And I’m not saying that, you know, it has to be a specialist, but we need people who are really passionate about helping kids wellbeing and health and physical education. So the way I support them is we create now I create these online learning modules where teachers take boards, subscribe to them and buy them, and then they disseminate the teachers. I do a lot of live, like in-person face to face workshops, either showing them how to use my resources or showing them how to use the resources they currently have in the classroom. Like literally, I meet the teacher where they’re at, we push in a chair, and then we’re doing movement, and then we’re linking that to numeracy and literacy. So I think the biggest gain we’ve had is that’s where we are. But Sam, I think the real pinnacle happened in 2015 when the United Nations, UNESCO, launched a massive massive literature review on, hey, what would happen if we ran quality, and I’ll define that in a second, physical and health education programs? What would that look like for health care? What would that look like for mental health? What would look, what would that look like in society at large? So they released that. And I just said, okay, I’m UNESCO, I’m going to help you put that into schools. And then helping schools understand the power of health and physical education and how that can make people, you know, well, not only healthy, but feeling really great about themselves. So that’s where we are now. And I wish I could tell you, Sam, that it’s amazing and it’s working really well, but it’s a grind, man, you know, cutbacks in public education, teacher shortages, etc, etc. So but, you know, there’s always a bright side, we got to keep moving forward.

Sam Demma
I was reading a book recently by Dr. Peter Atiyah called Outlive and he talks about, there let’s go, for all the listeners, he just put it in front of the camera and he talks about this concept that for so long people were obsessed with lifespan, which is how long you live and he says it’s not only about how long you live, it’s the quality of life you have while you live a long life, which is your health span. And he talks about the four horsemen, which are these diseases that take us out most often in life and how to avoid some of those things. And he makes this argument that the best possible treatment to avoiding those four things is exercise. Above all else, he talks about sleep and nutrition and all these other things, but exercise. And I’m wondering what your perspective is on exercise and when people ask you, hey Ted, how do I get healthy? You know, how do I feel good? What is your thoughts? What do you share with them? First of all, I got like a major research crush on that guy. So Dr. Peter Atiyah actually went to Mowat High School in Toronto.

Ted Temertzoglou
So he’s TDSB. Yeah, absolutely love it. Sam, I truly believe, and I know this through evidence, that the health and physical education curriculum stands to be the greatest healthcare intervention we have ever seen, if we teach it, especially at the younger grades. And so everything Peter talks about in his book, that’s all in our health and physical and health education curriculum, right? The top 10 diseases that end our lives largely before they should, like that lifespan that you said, and then our health span within it, are all largely preventable if we just moved a little bit more and ate a little better. And not only that, Sam, we’re talking about billions, tens of billions of dollars saved in direct costs to healthcare. So giving kids these tools at a very young age is critically important, more so today than it’s ever been. So I’m not sure if that was your question Sam, sorry I got a little carried away on that. But yeah, that’s where we’re at. 

Sam Demma
How do you prescribe a program for a teacher or a student? Do you have to assess their current abilities or is there a basic foundational level where everyone should start? Like if there’s someone listening to this who let themselves slip through the past couple years and they haven’t exercised much at all and they’re thinking gosh I want to start showing up for myself again. Just as much as I’m showing up for everyone around me. What would be like the first steps?

Ted Temertzoglou
Yeah, the very first step would be truly What thing do you enjoy doing like what really makes your heart sing and then I would build movement around that So if someone was to say, you know, I really really love just being out in the garden. Okay, great, right? So being in the garden is a great physical activity. You know, I like going outside and going for a walk. Fantastic, you know, getting up from a chair and walking is a phenomenal exercise. And then we would vary that. We’d slowly progress the overload, meaning that, okay, yes, you’re walking now and you’ve walked this distance. So now, you know, between this lamppost and that lamppost, every time you go every other lamppost, walk a little quicker and then slow it right back down again. So the gentleman that does a lot of research in this area is a guy named Martin Gabala, another Canadian, who’s been on all kinds of podcasts, including Tim Ferriss. And he wrote a book called The One Minute Workout, because largely the number one reason people do not work out is because of time constraints. But he has shown in all his research, like the minimal amount of exercise that’s actually needed to get people from not healthy or not very healthy to adequately healthy where they’re going to avoid what Atiya calls the four horsemen or those 10 non-communicable diseases is very little, Sam. And we know that prescription. For adults, that’s 150 minutes a week, 22 minutes a day, and two times a week where you’re pushing, pulling, lifting, squatting, lunging things. Those are the easiest things. But the first place I start with either my clients or the students or the teachers is what do you love to do? And there’s so many areas of movement. We gotta find something. I don’t even care if it’s a TikTok dance. That’s amazing for cardio, right? Like I’m trying to bust some of those moves in here, Sam. I’m telling you, I’m cutting rug in here. I mean, those things get your heart rate up fast. So any which way that you can find where movement’s a part of it, and they’ll get hooked because the body craves it, like we really do need. A great book for you too, Sam, after you finish Dr. Atiyah’s, is Dr. Kelly McGonigal from Stanford called The Joy of Movement. She doesn’t talk about exercise, she just talks about when muscles move, here’s what happens to the brain. And a lot of my work right now is that, is connecting muscles to brain, because we know today muscles are like an endocrine system. They’re not just these things that move things. They actually release proteins and they activate certain hormones. And that’s why it’s important to move, because it feels good. 

Sam Demma
It does feel good. It feels great. I was telling a friend of mine, I’m very competitive with myself. I like pushing myself and reaching new heights. And, you know, as much as I push myself in business or professionally with the work that I’m doing that’s usually tied to spending more time in front of my computer and even when I push myself in those arenas and reach new goals and heights and reach more people I Don’t feel the same way I feel when I lace up my shoes and do a 5k run around the block like that physical activity gives me an emotional emotional response and physical response in my body that pushing myself professionally just can’t give me and I recently inspired a friend to start running as a result and after he finished He’s like I haven’t felt this good in years like yes. I’m out of breath. Yes I’m feeling kind of nauseous and tired right now, but I feel so happy and I’m curious like You sound like someone who’s done lots of research. Is there like a link between feeling great and happy and moving the body? Like what is that connection?

Ted Temertzoglou
Yeah, Sam, we’ve got our own pharmacy and it’s right in our head. And the way you access that dealer, I’ll call my drug dealer for now, is the way you access that drug dealer is you move. So there’s this new discovery about 10 or so years ago called endocannabinoids. You probably have heard that ending of that word somewhere, right Sam? Cannabinoids, like cannabis, it produces the exact same effects. So, you know, when it releases serotonin and dopamine and all these epinephrines, we call this the dose response. So D is dopamine, O is the oxytocin, you know, that’s that social hormone that, they call it the hug hormone, where when you’re around friends, you just feel lifted, and we call that energy. Well, that energy is a direct product of oxytocin, right? And then you got your dopamine, and then you got your endorphins and those endocannabinoids. Yeah, we have a drugstore that’s frigging free, and it’s really worth getting addicted to those drugs, you know, because there’s no side effects.

Sam Demma
Yeah, that’s awesome.

Ted Temertzoglou
The side effects are what you just described, smiles, feeling good, wanna take on the world, you know, the sun’s always brighter You know Even the darkest days are a little bit brighter because that’s where your body wants to be we want to avoid pain We seek pleasure and movement is the key to that. 

Sam Demma
It’s crazy You brought up the end of that word and how it relates to Cannabis because this friend of mine that I inspired to run has recently kicked the habit of smoking a vape, which I’m sure many of the educators listening to this right now are very familiar with. And funny enough, every time he gets an urge, the way he stops himself from reaching for it is running or doing pushups. And he says he runs or does pushups and the desire to grab it immediately vanishes. So there is something special happening in the brain when we push our bodies physically and move. And after I was reading that book by Peter Atiyah, I started thinking about my own life and how much time I was spending sitting versus standing versus moving. And I didn’t think the body was made to sit all day. And I want to be someone who’s 80 or 90 years old and able to walk and able to pick up my grandkids, able to enjoy the daily activities of life. And so I think making sure we follow a routine similar to the ones you create for people is really important. I’m curious, out of all the work that you do, what work brings you the most joy and fulfillment?

Ted Temertzoglou
It’s when I’m working with the students, because often when I do the workshops, it’s with teachers and I invite the teachers to bring their kids. And it’s turning on those kids who didn’t think or didn’t see themselves as athletes, right? And you know, my tagline, Sam has always been it’s my like my Twitter handle to life is athletic. We push, we pull, we squat, we lunge, and we do all of these things in normal day-to-day life. So when those kids get hooked on movement, man, I just feel like, you know, I made it a little bit better today. I learned from them because I always ask them, like, what are your limitations? Like, what’s stopping you from doing these things? Because we all want to feel good. I think most people want to feel good. Or at least when we when we feel bad, we want to know what the strategies and tactics are, where we can hit the reset button really quick, right? So we get kids to realize, look, mistakes aren’t a period, it’s a comma. And then you first create your habits and then your habits create you. So finding these things in a positive light for kids, that’s what really lights me up. That’s what makes my heart sing. That’s why I still do this. And that’s why I’m gonna continue to do it. But I think the biggest learning I can have is when people actually tell me why it won’t work. Like, give me roadblocks or perceived barriers, and we got to find a way around these things because, you know, Sam, life expectancy for our kids, like, there was a big paper written, this was way before the pandemic, announced that prevention, a pound of trouble. And basically what it outlined was, this is probably the first generation of kids that will not love their parents. That was before, you know, before smartphones. And I’m not vilifying smartphones, it’s amazing. We have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, for goodness sakes. It’s a really good thing, it’s not a bad thing. However, too much of it is a bad thing. And when we hook kids, and you know, their attention is drawn to other things and away from movement, man, we’re gonna be in a world of hurt. Not only in our healthcare system, but for them. So, you know, I’m getting on here in my age, and I’m thinking my kids are roughly your age. And I’m thinking, hey, when they start having kids, and I have grandkids, like, I want them to have, you know, very exciting and fruitful lives, but I need them to be feeling really good about themselves. And that’s health and physical education to me. That’s why it’s so critically important. But yet it’s below the maths, it’s below the sciences, but really it’s the most important subject we teach. What can be more important than our health, right? 

Sam Demma
I couldn’t agree more. I heard a quote once that said, people with their health want a million things and people without it only want one. And if I don’t have my health, personally, I’m not gonna be able to focus in math class. If I don’t have my health, I’m not focused in any other subject in school. The only thing I’m thinking about is helping myself feel better. And in Outlive by Peter Etieh, he cites a little study of students that exercise versus students that didn’t and how it improved their cognitive performance in school. So, I mean, prioritizing health not only helps the physical body, but it helps you perform better as a student. So how can it not be the most important thing? And the fact that it’s accessible to everyone on this planet, even if you don’t have a gym in your garage, you know, like you said, walking outside, running outside, just moving the body, makes this such an important topic to teach everybody about, because it could save so many years in someone’s life, not only in terms of their lifespan, but so they can enjoy it longer.

Sam Demma
I did mention it.

Ted Temertzoglou
Oh, sorry, Sam. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Ted Temertzoglou
Sorry.

Sam Demma
No, you go. I have a thought afterwards.

Ted Temertzoglou
Yeah, and then when you think about as well, the Canadian Heart and Stroke Association did this great commercial, Sam, I’m not sure if you saw them, and it’s like, you know, for the most Canadians, the last 10 years of their life, so what Atiyah calls the marginal decades, they’re living in and out of hospitals, or they’re living in and out of chronic care units. They’re not vital. It’s not a vitality part of their life at that point. Like, think about that. You know, seven different drugs. You’re going in and out of hospitals. You’re not feeling really good. And all of those were things that, you know, Hemingway has always said, you know, it happens really, really slowly, and then it hits you like a ton of bricks. So these are really important things for us to get across to our kids. So those last 10 years, we don’t know when we’re gonna get them, but you wanna be going out like you said, like picking things up that you wanna pick up and hiking in the mountains that you wanna hike. You wanna have those things, what Atiyah calls the centenarian decathlon. I wanna be able to do those top 10 things into my 90s or 100s or whatever, you know, God graces this on this planet with whatever. That’s what I want to do. And that’s what I want for people too. 

Sam Demma
You mentioned earlier in the podcast and I caught it and I wanted to circle back to it. You said, me and my wife wrote curriculum. So does she work in the same space that you do? Like, tell me more about this power couple dynamic?

Ted Temertzoglou
Yeah.

Ted Temertzoglou
Oh, you’re too kind. Yeah, that’s so cool. Yeah, Carolyn and I, Carolyn works, so she was a teacher as well. We actually met at the faculty of education at the University of Toronto. Cool. I was a pub manager, so I got to meet a lot of really cool people. I was very lucky. And Carolyn now teaches at the University of Toronto. She’s in teacher education. So she teaches phys ed teachers how to teach physical education, K to grade 12. It’s funny because I used to call them gym teachers. Yeah, and when we do our work together internationally.

Ted Temertzoglou
Yeah.

Ted Temertzoglou
And I remember a teacher was like, no, the gym is the physical space. I am a physical education teacher. I’m like, damn, I’m sorry. But there is a distinction. Yeah, I’ve got a quick side story for you. So when we were in Newfoundland doing some work, the health and phys ed teachers there, they have t-shirts that they wear. And they say on the back, I teach physical and health education, Jim lives down the street.

Sam Demma
That’s awesome. I love that, man. Thank you for sharing some of your passion for movement today on the podcast. I know you’re headed to Vienna to spend a week with some schools and administrators internationally and I’m sure they’re gonna change and build some new habits that are gonna help them as a result of the programming you’re doing with them. If someone wants to learn more about you, check out some of your resources or get in touch, what would be the best way for them to reach out?

Ted Temertzoglou
Yeah, I don’t have a website up and running just yet, but yeah, if they Googled my name or if they want to get a hold of me through email, they can do that too. We can put that, I guess, if you like, in the show notes or what have you. And Twitter, I’m @LifeisAthletic.

Sam Demma
You mentioned, we’ll wrap up on this, you mentioned sometimes the thing that brings you the most joy is helping people overcome those barriers within themselves to reach their fitness goals or to even just get started. It sounds like you’re helping people empty their backpacks and that’s something that we love doing in all of our work. If there was one piece of advice or one thing you would share and encourage anybody listening right now related to their physical and mental wellbeing that you wish the whole world could hear, you know, if everyone was listening, what would you tell people?

Ted Temertzoglou
I would say, just start. Just move one foot in front of the other, baby steps, and then once you get past all those, the rest will just start to come for you, right? The world will open up for you. So from the movement standpoint, that’s what I would say. From a mental standpoint, I would say, look, it’s kind of, I think Seneca said this, we suffer more in imagination than we do in reality. Stop listening to the negative self-talk that we take ourselves through and start focusing on all the great things that you get to do on this limited time that we have on the planet.

Sam Demma
I love it. Ted, it’s been an absolute honor having you on the show. We’re going to have to do this again. Thank you so much for making the time. Keep up the great work, enjoy your travels, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Ted Temertzoglou
Thank you so much, Sam.

Ted Temertzoglou
It’s been an honor and really love being on your show. So good luck with all your great stuff that you’re doing as well. Cheers, my man.

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Keri-Ellen Walcer — Professor and Program Coordinator of Entrepreneurship and Small Business at Durham College

Keri-Ellen Walcer — Professor and Program Coordinator of Entrepreneurship and Small Business at Durham College
About Keri-Ellen Walcer

Keri-Ellen Walcer has been a professor at Durham College (DC) since 2013. She is currently the Program Coordinator for the Entrepreneurship and Small Business program in the Faculty of Business. Keri-Ellen holds a B.A. in Health Promotion from Brock University and an MHSc.in Kinesiology from Ontario Tech University. Prior to joining DC Keri-Ellen established a global children’s fitness brand working with partners in the community, government and entertainment industries.

Keri-Ellen is passionate about helping students develop their unique brands and innovative business models. She is very active in her community service activities and loves to empower young adults to be changemakers.

Connect with Keri-Ellen: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Facebook

Listen Now

Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Resources Mentioned

YMCA Canada

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Musigo Inc

The Transcript

**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
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator Podcast, your source of professional development and connections in the education industry. This is your host, keynote speaker, and author, Sam Demma. Today we are joined by Keri-Ellen Walcer. Keri-Ellen Walcer has been a professor at Durham College since 2013. She is currently the program coordinator for the Entrepreneurship and Small Business program in the Faculty of Business. Carrie Ellen holds a BA in health promotion from Brock University and a master’s in kinesiology from Ontario Tech University. Prior to joining Durham College, Carrie Ellen established a global children’s fitness brand working with partners in the community, government, and entertainment industries. Carrie Ellen is passionate about helping students develop their unique brands and innovative business models. She is very active in her community service activities and loves to empower young adults to be changemakers. I hope you enjoy this impactful conversation and I will see you on the other side. Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator Podcast. This is your host and speaker, Sam Demma. Super excited to have Keri-Ellen Walcer on the show here today. Keri-Ellen Walcer, thanks so much for taking the time to be here.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Thanks so much for having me, Sam. I’m super excited about our conversation today.

Sam Demma
So I always like to start by asking, like, what made you the person you are today? Where did you come from?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Wow, that’s a big question. Well, I am the youngest of six kids. I’m from a very active and entrepreneurial family. My mom was from the UK, my dad was from Holland. They met here in Canada and yeah, we’ve always had a full house and lots of activity and lots of fun in our house. So yeah, that’s kind of where I come from.

Sam Demma
Does that inspire the full house you have now?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Yeah, yeah, I think so. I, I, I’ve created my own full house. Um, yeah, I’ve always loved having people around, um, you know, being the youngest, my siblings all had children before I did. And so even though I didn’t have younger siblings, I always had, you know, nephews around a lot of nephews, a couple of nieces, but a lot of nephews. And so family functions are always a lot of fun, a lot of games, a lot of activity, and just lots of ideas.

Sam Demma
Did your parents’ entrepreneurial aspirations influence your own? Like, tell me more about your parents’ aspirations in entrepreneurship.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Oh man.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Yes.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
My dad was very creative. He was all… I think when I was a baby he had an ice cream shop at one point. And my mom says that as a baby, you know, I’d sit on the counter and he’d feed me soft ice cream and whatnot. So, you know, right from the time we were growing up, but he always had different ideas for different businesses. And I remember as a teenager going to him to trade shows, selling some of the stuff that he had invented or different things. There’s always some kind of side hustle going on in our house.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Yeah.

Sam Demma
That’s awesome. I think the soft serve ice cream as someone who’s lactose intolerant for me wouldn’t have been the best idea as a baby but that’s a fond memory to think about The did that directly inform your decision to be an entrepreneur yourself like tell me more about your own entrepreneurial journey Yeah

Keri-Ellen Walcer
So so actually I have to say when I was five years old, I had decided I was going to start a jewelry making club. Like I said, my dad worked at a car manufacturer and he would bring home little empty spools of thread and different bits and pieces and I would make jewelry out of these plastic pieces and things that he would bring home from the factory. And so I decided I had like one friend in the neighborhood, there wasn’t really many children in my neighborhood, and I made this little kit. It was like a jewelry making kit and I like dropped it off at her house and said, do you want to be part of my jewelry making club? And you know, so when I really think about it, like I was doing this stuff from the time I was super little. I remember actually even at that time when I was living at that house, so I was again, I think I moved when we were five, like I think I had my fifth birthday at the new house, but so before I’d even moved from the original house I lived in, there was a Dickie D ice cream guy that would drive around on his bike in our neighborhood and, you know, I would be playing out front by myself and I always wanted to get this ice cream. So I decided that I would get Monopoly money and go and order some ice cream from him. Now I knew that the Monopoly money was not real money, but I figured that like $500 in Monopoly dollars must be worth at least 50 cents in like regular dollars. So I went out to the ice cream, I had my pocket full of this Monopoly money. I went out to the ice cream guy and I asked him for the ice cream and he gave me the ice cream and then he asked me for the money and so I pulled the Monopoly money out of my pocket and he goes, oh no, you can’t use that. And I said, listen, no, I know it’s not real money, but I explained to him like it must be worth something, like come on, this is $500 Monopoly, it’s got to be worth at least an ice cream. But no, he wouldn’t take it. But I did make some good sense, I think. Like, I was really trying to wheel and deal, and I felt like I had, you know, a good deal I was willing to make, but that wasn’t successful. So, yeah, those things were happening right back then. Now, fast forward to when I was in my early 20s. I got married young. I married my high school sweetheart, so we had known each other for a long time. But we were, I was 20 years old when I got married and I was just finishing up university. And so when I finished, I was, I just had my first baby. So she was actually at my university graduation. And I had finished a degree in community health and fitness. And I had also been a dancer throughout my life. I love, I love dancing. And so here I was, I just graduated, I have a baby and I was not eager to leave her alone. And so I started developing little, little knee bounces and dances and things like that, that I could do with her with, and my intention from that was twofold. One was for myself to keep active and to develop a program that could help me to keep up my own fitness level while also helping her reach her developmental milestones. So I started reading a lot of books about children and their developmental milestones and things. I started developing this program. At the time, we bought a house, so again, we were very young, and we had bought this house that was a little bit outside of our price range since we had no money at all. Did you use the Monopoly money? Yeah. So we bought… Yeah, they didn’t take Monopoly money for the house either. So we’re stuck a little bit. But we bought this house because it had a second entrance and we were going to rent out part of the house. And that was how we were going to be able to maintain this house. Luckily, we were living in a university town at the time, so we had no problem renting it out. But by the time she was born, I kind of thought, well, it would be nice for us to have the whole house to ourselves. And so I figured if I could start a little business in my house and make the same amount of money that we had been earning in rent, that I could justify just having our own house. So I started a little dance studio in the house, in the apartment. We converted the apartment to a dance studio and put mirrors and everything up and started dance classes there. So my classes, what started as dance, became this fitness movement class that I created, which like I said, was not only to entertain kids, but to also maintain my own fitness and to kind of morph that. So that actually grew quite quickly and I was also doing birthday parties at the same time, but really all of this was just to justify myself being able to stay home and to be able to take over our own home and have our own home. And it worked very well. Eventually I was renting space in other dance studios and offering my programs both in my own home as well as in dance studios. And my husband was working as a teacher at a private school. And then we got the inkling to move. We wanted to be, at the time we were living about two and a half hours away from both of our families, and both of our original families, and we were having more and more kids. So by this point I was pregnant with my third child and we felt like maybe it was time to move back closer to our families of origin. And by that time I had about 200 students. So it had been two years and between my dance classes and what became known as Wee Wigglers, the Wee Wigglers programs that I had developed starting at age six months up to five years old, I realized that I had actually sort of created something worth something. And really actually what it was is that the families that were, right, like I didn’t teach children over the age of five. All of my students were between six months and five years old. And at the time, this was 20 years ago, nobody else was doing anything like that, certainly not in our town. And I don’t really think anywhere else. I don’t think anywhere else anybody was really doing like that. And so the families came to me and said, well, what are we going to do when you leave? Like, look at all of us. We were doing recitals and like, it was a very unique thing. And so that’s when I got the idea to license the program. So there was a colleague, well, another, a fellow business owner that I, that I, her student, actually her daughter was one of my first students and one of the inspirations for me developing these Wigglers programs. So she was teaching mom and baby fitness up to six months and then I was starting them at six months. So we had developed a friendship and we had developed sort of a business camaraderie and I said to her, you know, a lot of her students she was sending to me when they were too old for her programs and so she was really feeding my business. And I said, well listen, you know, a lot of my students are starting with you anyway. Why don’t you license these programs? I’ll set you up and you can keep running them here. And when I move, I still deserve the right to keep running them wherever I go. So she thought that was a great idea. And then there was another studio owner who also thought it was a great idea. So that was my first two licensees. And again, it was not that I specifically set out to do this from the beginning, it was just to fill a gap and to fill a need and to fill some demand that was generated. So that was kind of my first four-way. I ran that, I developed those programs and licensed it across North America. We even had a licensee in the UK. And by the time I sold it, I think I had been running it for about 15 years and growing it and developing it. And I was also growing and developing my own family. So by that point I had four children who were all in various ages and stages and things like that. And it was getting to be a lot. Everything was growing. My business was growing, my family was growing, there’s a lot of responsibility. And I also started developing some curiosity around other types of programs and how these programs could be used in other settings besides just a regular dance setting and so I decided to pursue more education and The rest is history. But yeah, that was my that was my entrepreneurial start

Sam Demma
You mentioned a phrase that stuck in my mind the moment you said it and it was back to the monopoly money at the ice cream truck you said it’s got to be worth something and again, you said, this is I built something that was actually worth something, which is so cool. But it takes so much self belief to take an idea that you have, it’s just in your head, believe in yourself enough and in the idea that it’s got to be worth something to take the actions to bring it to life. Where did your self belief come from?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Oh, wow. You know, I heard a phrase at some point in time, I came across this phrase that says confidence is not feeling sure that you can’t lose, it’s being not afraid to lose. And I look at my siblings, like I said, I’m the youngest of six, and all of us have displayed and manifest entrepreneurial things in various ways. And we kind of laugh about it. We have a really good sense of humor about ourselves. And I think we really aren’t afraid of failure because we have made fools of ourselves a lot of times. Like the whole ice cream. That was kind of foolish, but it did set me back because it was like, that wasn’t a big deal. It’s fine. I didn’t get the ice cream, move on, you know? Yeah. So I don’t think, again, I don’t really feel confident that everything I do is always going to be amazing. In fact, nothing I’ve ever done has ever turned out the way I thought it would. And I think it’s just getting used to the fact that, you know, yeah, you can have a vision in mind, but, you know, I paint as well, I create art. My art never looks the way that I think it’s going to look or the way I want it to look. And at first, I go through this process, and a lot of artists go through this process where it looks awful to you and you’re like, oh, you’re so frustrated and you’re so done with it. And then for me, by the time I’m finished a piece, I’m not finished because I love it. I’m finished because I’m so sick of it. But then I walk away from it and, you know, maybe a month later, maybe two months later, I look at it again and I go, oh, that was actually pretty

Keri-Ellen Walcer
good.

Sam Demma
You know what I mean? That’s a common trend for artists. I just finished reading a book called Steal Like an Artist by a gentleman named Austin Cleon and he shared a story of a young man who grew up drawing and sketching and every day his garbage can at the end of the day would be filled with all the drawings that he didn’t think were good enough and he’d crumple them up and throw them in the trash. But his dad would go into his bedroom when he fell asleep as a little kid and take the garbage can, uncrumple the pages and kept them in a drawer in his bedroom. When his dad passed away, one of the things he left for his son was like an 800-page scrapbook of all the drawings he made that he didn’t think were worthy. And I thought it was such a powerful story. Like just hearing you say that brought me back to that moment and it gives me a little bit of goosebumps. Like art sometimes takes you on a journey of disgust and excitement, but at the end, there’s a cool thing that happens. Like you bring an idea to life, even if it’s different than the one you had in your mind. I think we’re living in a time right now where a lot of young people want to bring ideas to life. They want to create something worth something. And sometimes that desire takes them on a different path. And I know that Durham College and the work that you do at the school is providing cool opportunities for entrepreneurs or people who have that spirit while also earning their educational certificates and diplomas. Tell me about how you started your work at Durham College and some of the projects that you’re unfolding and building now?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Yeah, so I was doing this training program and I decided to approach Durham College to see if they wanted me to do these one-day trainings. And as serendipity would have it, it turned out that they weren’t just looking for the one-day certification program, they were actually launching a whole new program that I was a good fit for. So I started working part-time teaching that program and found, just found a love for working with these young adults, which I had never really worked with before. I mean in my business I was working with, like I said, only up to five years old. Yeah. All my only had up to five-year-old kids. So at first again I was a little bit nervous. It was out of my element, I thought, but it did not take long for me to just find joy in meeting with these young adults and helping them on their path. So that was my start at Durham College, and I did find that as my children grew, as I was saying, with my business, so I was still running my business and working at the college and having babies.

Sam Demma
You had a family.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Five.

Sam Demma
Wow.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
I did get to a point as I got older and a little bit more mature that I needed to maybe pare down the demands on me because I felt like I wanted to have a little bit more control of my time and my scheduling. So I found that the college life really afforded me a little more work-life balance, which is when I decided to sell the business and then pursue teaching full-time. So that puts me here in the entrepreneurship program.

Sam Demma
You went back to school to follow the new curiosity to get into teaching. Some people think at a certain time in their life, it’s too late. They’ve made their path. One of my good friends is a guy named Sean Canugo and he has a phrase, he says, you know, everyone always talks about going from zero to a hundred from the bottom of the mountain to the top of the mountain. And he says, well, innovation happens when you go from a hundred to zero, when you scale down the mountain and start from scratch, start from zero. And, you know, you didn’t start from zero. You started from experience, and everyone does in life, but metaphorically, you went back down a mountain and started climbing a new one. For people listening to this who want to make a big shift in their life or pursue a new path but they’re struggling with the idea of letting go of the mountain they’ve already climbed, what encouragement would you share?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Well, you know, it’s funny because I think that process is exactly the same as the art process. And I think what I would wrap up that art process discussion in this little bow, where, like I said, what I discovered was nothing ever really turns out the way that I had planned. And yet I’ve been able to find the beauty in how it did turn out, that there is beauty in how it turned out. And I think you could say the same for my career, you could say the same for my business, things aren’t the way that I had anticipated. And so you can kind of, you know, get caught up in that and go, oh, you know, what if it doesn’t turn out? Well, guess what? It never does. So find beauty in what it is, and not just in the one preconceived idea that you had about it. And so if somebody is afraid to quote unquote, quote-unquote restart from the bottom or change paths because they’re afraid it’s not going to turn out. Well, it’s not. Learn how to be okay with it not being easy. Learn how to be okay with it being harder than you anticipated. And when you get used to that and when you get used to being able to see the beauty in what it is, then it doesn’t feel as much of a risk and it doesn’t feel like a failure. I remember a student, one of my entrepreneurship students, he’s a funny guy, he was very bold and he is very bold. And he walked into class, this was like one of the first days of class, I’m introducing myself, I’m talking about my business, whatever. And he says, I said, does anybody have any questions? And he goes, yeah, I’ve got a question. Have you ever failed? Like, tell us about one of your business failures. And I was like, huh. And I thought about it. And my first instinct was to say, well, no, I’ve never failed. But then I also was like, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever really succeeded. Well, you know, so I really, it made me think. And I think at the time I said to him, well, I said, I guess it just depends on how you How you define failure and how you define success That’s kind of what I said But it did make me think and actually just recently I had a thought and I and I’m reading a book by Adam Grant called Think again. Hmm, and He talks about thinking like a scientist that and and the way a scientist thinks is we have hypotheses But whatever we learn from that experiment is what we learn. Maybe our hypothesis was wrong, maybe it was right. Either way it’s learning, so it’s not a failure if your hypothesis was wrong. And I think that’s the way I’ve approached my life, that’s the way I’ve approached my business. It’s like a scientist, it’s like let’s try this and see what happens. Oh, that’s what happens when you do that. I’m gonna do more of that, or I’m not going to do that again, right? And so I think I’ve just approached things that way. So it doesn’t feel like a failure. It really always does feel like, oh, I learned something there and let’s do more of that or let’s do less of that.

Sam Demma
I guess approaching it like an experiment gives less pressure on the end result because you’re just testing things as opposed to making it like a test. You know, you fail or you succeed. It’s like, no, this is gonna be, I have my educated guests, this is gonna be an experiment, we’re gonna put some inputs and see what outputs. And if it’s really great, we’ll do more of it. And I think the beautiful thing is that it doesn’t only apply to entrepreneurship, that applies to teachers in the classroom. You know, you try things with the students you’re mentoring and teaching. This applies to relationships with your partner. This applies to raising kids. Like this applies to all the choices you can make in your life, which is really unique and cool. I have a inspiration in the music industry named Russ. He’s an independent rapper and I’ve really looked up to him in many different ways. And he has this phrase, he says, you know, I had to teach myself that it wasn’t broken success when the things I expected didn’t happen. That just was the version of success that unfolded at that point in my life. It’s not broken, it just is what it is. And that’s kind of reminded me when things didn’t fulfill my expectations that the journey and the path is the success and what happens at the end is kind of not up to your choice. It’s like by chance a little bit sometimes. Yeah. So let’s talk about the weekend program. Again, a lot of students are, they’re wanting to take different pathways, me being one of them. And sometimes it’s very difficult because when you make a big shift or you make a choice different from everyone else around you the first thing you get is pushback from all the people in your life that love you and care about you. What I think is so amazing about the program at Durham College is it marries two things together. The ability to pursue that entrepreneurial itch while also still fulfilling and obtaining some of your education.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Absolutely. I honestly, people say this, but I really mean it. I really wish that there was a program like this when I was going through what I was going through in my business. It’s kind of like starting a business with training wheels on. So, the weekend program is unique, it’s innovative because I don’t know of any other program like it. It is a full-time program, so our students are considered full-time students at the college, which means that that they can receive OSAP if needed or whatever, but it also is condensed, the learning or the class time is condensed to Friday evening, Saturdays and Sundays, and we try to have it so that there is still enough time. If people are really motivated, they can get their homework and study done on the weekend as well. So that they can be freed up through the week to pursue whatever their work week responsibilities are. Some of them are already starting their own business, and so they’re working, they’re literally doing their business, running their business through the week, and then coming on the weekends. Some of them are like what I was when I was 20 years old. Maybe they have family commitments at home and whatnot. So, it really is very flexible for our learners to be able to, yeah, hit the ground running. I mean, there is an opportunity cost to going to school. Because you’re not just paying for school, but you, in many cases, if you’re in a regular weekday program, in many cases, you’re giving up full-time employment or you’re giving up the opportunity to have full-time employment. So it’s the cost of losing that wage as well as what you’re paying for your education, which can be difficult for some people and can really limit people in what their options are. So this kind of takes that away. And it also, I love that, like I learned a lot of things the hard way in my business and I think you know there’s always going to be those types of lessons you know you can never just you can never prevent it but what I love about our program is that people can be starting their business and we have professors who are experts in their fields and who are you know you’ll have a professional accountant teaching you accounting you have a professional lawyer teaching you business law. You have entrepreneurs who have run their own businesses, run their own franchises, different things like this that can help you and answer some of those questions for you and guide you through those processes so that it’s your learning experience. I mean, running a business, being an entrepreneur, there are some expensive lessons. You know, you make investments and I think that this is a very safe investment. To be able to start that business and have those professionals, you know, at your disposal for that two years, I think is just incredible. So that’s what we aim to do. We aim to kind of be there, be your sounding boards, give you some guidance on those foundational principles of business, accounting, law, marketing. We have some amazing digital marketer, professional digital marketers that are teaching in the program right now. They’re just some incredible people who are all entrepreneurs in their own right and who are just ready to support our students in their journey.

Sam Demma
I guess you could consider this weekend program your sixth baby.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Oh my goodness.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Is that so obvious to you?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Oh my gosh.

Sam Demma
I just, I can’t feel the passion when you talk about it. I wish this was around when I was making my decision to decide to go to university or college or start building my business. It would have been a option I wish I knew more about, which is why educators listening to this right now, if you have students who you recognize have this entrepreneurial spirit and wanna build things and might not know exactly what they want to do. Guidance counselors listening to this, if that student walks into your office and tells you they want to start a company, instead of trying to redirect them back on a very formal path, consider looking into this and maybe reaching out to Carrie Ellen or someone from the college to learn more about this opportunity because I think it’s so important that more young people know about it. It would have been super helpful for me. Tell me a little bit more about how you connect with the students in your class. A lot of educators listening want to have an impact on the young people in front of them, and that’s why they got into education in the first place, to not only teach, but to pour self-belief in another human being’s backpack so that they can take the choices or make the choices required to bring the versions of themselves to life. How do you connect with students in a classroom and put that belief in their backpacks?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Yeah, well, again, going back to that notion before, it’s that, you know, when you’re an artist or when you take a risk on something and it doesn’t turn out exactly how you envisioned and you’re having a hard time yourself seeing the beauty in it, to be able to have a professor who knows you, who looks at your effort and looks at your work and shows you that there is beauty in it when you have a hard time seeing it yourself, is exactly what we aim to do. It’s to help expand their vision, expand a student’s vision, not just for their business, but for who they are as an individual. I think the important thing, you know, I’ve talked about how really nothing I’ve ever really done has turned out how I had envisioned it. But the vision is so important because the vision drives you. So it’s the difference between running towards something that you want so bad and running away from something you’re afraid of. Either way you’re running, but I prefer to run towards things that I want as opposed to the feelings that I have when I’m running away from something I’m afraid of. And so it’s really important to have vision and it’s really important to think big and to be idealistic about it. And that will really drive you in the struggles or the challenges that you have to overcome. If you keep an eye on that vision that you have, it can motivate you through the tough times. But then when you kind of get to the quote-unquote end goal, and it isn’t what you had envisioned, that can be a bit of a letdown. And when you’ve been so focused for so long, as an individual, you may have a really hard time recognizing the beauty in what you produced. And so having been there, and all of our professors on our We’ve all had those experiences and we are able to guide our students and to sort of be, I guess, a calming influence and to be a reassurance to say, you know what, it’s okay. This doesn’t make you a failure. This isn’t, you know, this is a normal part of progression and we are here with you and we know that you can do this. And you know, that’s something you can take online courses and you can read magazines and you can find all kinds of information all over the place, but to have somebody who’s been there, who knows the path, and who knows you and is able to reassure you on that path, it can’t be replaced.

Sam Demma
I think back to the teachers in my self-belief, in my journey, in taking the next step. Sometimes the self-doubt that I had would freeze me. And it’s like, you know, with the analogy of being frozen in a block of ice, the self-belief from someone else like melts the block and allows you to keep walking forward. So I even think back to my coaches in sport that had a similar impact on me. My parents had a big impact, but sometimes we believe the people that love us are biased, and no matter what, they’re gonna tell us that they love us and believe in us. But when you hear it from another adult or human in your life who’s not connected to you that closely at the beginning, it really makes a difference and an impact. Can you think of an example where a professor had an impact on your life like that or when you had an impact like that on a student?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Yeah, a professor that’s had an impact, oh my goodness. It’s funny because, you know, it’s in the little things and I think sometimes, I know in the professors and the teachers that really had, that I’m thinking of right off the bat, they probably don’t even realize. Yeah. Oh it was maybe just something they said at the right time and the right moment or just the look or just a feeling that you get or that I got. But yeah I had, yeah I’ve had, I don’t know it’s hard for me to. It’s tough to bring yourself back. Yeah, yeah I’ve had some, I had a professor who I just adored. And at that point in time, I had changed schools. I got married. I had been going to school in the US. And then I got married and came back to Canada and transferred my credits here. And so I was just there for one year. And I felt a little like a duck out of water because I was married and I was 20 and most of the people around me were not in that place in their life. And so I kind of felt a little bit like I didn’t belong. But this professor had a real impact on me. She had a warmth, she had a vision. She just, you know, I don’t know, it was just the way she was. And so years later, and so I did a lot with her, she was running some special programs that I ended up helping with and having some really beautiful experiences helping with those programs in recreation. And later on in my schooling, as I said, I went back to school and I was at this conference with all of these different recreation professionals and kinesiologists, because that’s what I was doing. And this woman, there’s hundreds of people there, and this woman walks past me, and I just felt this warmth. And I looked at her as she walked past and I went, I know her. I just felt this love. And it turned out it was her from my undergrad. And I didn’t really remember her name. I didn’t remember anything specific that she had, any specific time that the two of us had had together. But just all those feelings came back. You know, they say that you might forget what somebody says, you forget what they do, but you never forget how they make you feel. And that was that moment for me. So here I had come full circle 20 years later, 18 years later, and this woman, all she had to do was walk by me and all of those feelings came back. for my, for my, my defense, when I defended my thesis. And again, she was just such a light. So yeah, so that was, that was somebody who had a big impact on me and it was kind of beautiful that it came full circle that way. And it’s wild to think that sometimes the educators

Sam Demma
that have the biggest impact have no idea that they’re making that significant impact. I recently did a speech for the YMCA in Burlington and Brantford and Hamilton area, and there was 300 early childhood educators. And I was thinking about, like, what could I share with them to help them realize that they’re making such a big difference? And I told this story of a gentleman I met in Medicine Hat, Alberta, at 6 a.m. in the middle of the winter, who was outside with a leaf blower.

Sam Demma
And I was thinking to myself,

Sam Demma
What is this guy doing with a leaf blower in the middle of the winter? And I was getting up, I was getting up early to go to a conference. And then I realized he was using the leaf blower to blow snow off of every single car in the drive, in the parking lot. And that was a part of his job at the hotel. And I couldn’t help but think that this guy was gonna clear every single person’s car while they all slept and everyone’s going to wake up with a clear dash and have no idea that this man spent a couple hours blowing the snow off of their windshield. And it made me think of people in education who make so many choices to impact other human beings but sometimes have no idea the impact they’re creating. Same way that your professor had no idea the impact she had on you, and you might not have an idea of the impact that you have on the students in your classroom. So thank you for the work that you do in education. And if there’s an educator listening who wants to connect with you and ask questions or collaborate on a cool idea, what would be the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Keri-Ellen Walcer
Well, they can email me, and usually check my email two times a day. So do you want me to say what my email address is or you just put it in the show notes?

Sam Demma
I’ll put it in the show notes for all the people. (keri-ellen.walcer@durhamcollege.ca). And I highly recommend everyone, please check out the weekend program. It’s super impactful, especially for the students in your school who may be looking to take a slightly different path. Keri-Ellen Walcer, this was such an amazing conversation. I feel refreshed. Thank you for taking the time to chat and I look forward to connecting again sometime soon.

Keri-Ellen Walcer
All right. All right. Thank you so much.

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The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.