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Founder and CEO

Empty Your Backpack (Spoken Word Poem)

Small Consistent Actions Sam Demma - TEDxYouth@Toronto
About Empty Your Backpack

Here is the link to watch the animation on Youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwlHs-Mkvnc

Empty Your Backpack is a spoken word poem created by Sam Demma that encourages you to realize that people’s words don’t define your self-worth. It is a video filled with emotion, hope and perseverance. It was directed and animated by Ben Clarkson, a Juno-nominated illustrator, artist and animator.

If you enjoyed this poem, you can check out the entire project, book and poem at www.emptyyourbackpack.ca

Connect with Sam: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Empty Your Backpack Animation

Empty Your Backpack Project

The Story that Inspired the Project

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 (00:00):

Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator Podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today we have a different type of podcast interview, one that will leave you feeling very emotional in a very hopeful and inspiring way. Over a year ago now, I hosted an Instagram live call with a student. If you don’t know what that means, think of a video call, but with a live audience with 50-100 students watching on Instagram who can comment live while you have a video call and bring individuals up on screen to have a conversation. A student joined who I had never spoken to before and after we started talking, he told me very quickly that his biggest goal in life was to be an actor, and his second goal was to have 50,000 followers on social media. Slightly confused, I challenged this young man who we’re gonna call Josh for the sake of today’s podcast, to explain to me what in his life would change if I snapped my fingers and instantly he had 50,000 followers.

Sam Demma (01:10):

What this young student said, I will never forget. “Sam, if I had 50,000 followers, kids at school would stop bullying me and calling me a loser. My life is filled with bullies. I hate myself. I hate going to school, and I’m turning off the camera on my phone because I’m ugly.” Josh remained silent for a few moments while every student watching started filling the chat box with the most positive stuff, the most amazing comments. We connected him with his guidance counselors to make sure he felt supported, sent him merch in the mail to make sure he felt like he was a part of a community. But after the call ended, I couldn’t get this question outta my mind. How is it that this young man who has such a bright future is allowing the words and opinions of a select few individuals who don’t even care about him to affect the way that he sees himself every single day and the choices he’s making?

Sam Demma (02:14):

You know when you have a conversation and five minutes after it ends, you remember what you were really trying to say? I was sitting in my basement at my office desk on my rolling chair. When the call ended, I got up. I started walking to the first floor of my house up the staircase, and as I got midway, halfway up the staircase, what I was really trying to say to this young man, Josh finally came to mind. What I wished I could have helped him realize live on that call is that people’s words don’t define your self worth, that you don’t have to carry around the thoughts, expectations, and opinions that other people or society, places on your shoulders. What I wished I could have helped Josh realize was that he had the possibility, the potential to empty his backpack. I believe every one of us, yourself included, carry a giant invisible backpack on your shoulders and in your backpack.

Sam Demma (03:18):

You have your own personal beliefs that you have built and picked up based on your unique life experiences. But as you went through life, you also started picking up the thoughts, expectations, and opinions that other people gave to you, whether you asked for them or not. Things like, you’re not good enough, you’re too fat. Who do you think you are? What makes you believe you’re credible for this? This is never gonna work. Any of these sound familiar? If you and I never take the time to empty our backpacks of these lies, these negative beliefs that other people have given to us, we end up starting to believe them and we tell ourselves these lies, which become our internal dialogue and stories and ends up holding us back.

Sam Demma (04:12):

Imagine that the one thing holding you back is a belief that was never even yours to begin with. After the call with Josh, I started reflecting on my own experience, dealing with the words and opinions that other people placed on me. Growing up, I got extremely emotional and I started working on something minutes after that call that has finally come to life and I am so excited to share it with you right now on this podcast. It’s something I have quietly worked with Ben Clarkson, a Juno nominated illustrator, artist and designer. He took a spoken word poem that I put together titled Empty Your Backpack and turned it into a beautiful animated video. Here on the podcast, I’m going to play the audio portion of that three minute spoken word poem, and if you enjoy it, there’s going to be a link to the YouTube video where you can watch the animation and hopefully share it with the young people in your life who might benefit from hearing a message just like this one. Okay, here it is. Grab some popcorn and enjoy.

Sam Demma (05:31):

Yo, you gotta stop carrying around the thoughts and opinions of everyone else. You gotta stop. They put the world on my shoulders. I couldn’t carry it. With each appointment, doctors words getting scarier, those walls became my second home. I mean a barrier that put my heart in my hands where they were tearing it. They say, you gotta love the game. That’s why I married it. But by 17 divorced a dream and buried it six feet underneath my skin. I was embarrassed that life was black and white when I didn’t wear my jersey. Words cut like knives when they’re aimed at insecurities. Yeah, thank you, coach. I’ll never forget what you said. Your words still went through my mind while I try to make amend, I wish someone would’ve told me that my words define my journey, not the name on my back or the number on my jersey. So hear me out people’s words. Don’t define your route. You bet on you since day one. You define yourself. It’s time you grab your backpack and empty it out and stop carrying the opinions of everyone else. Grab your backpack and let it all out. This is your life. Ain’t nobody else.

Sam Demma (06:41):

It’s been five years since I stopped playing, but someone grabbed the piper cuz I’m still paying. I passed gold 22 times that I was collecting, but my boardwalk is not what you’re expecting. You see my mind is like a broken record. It keeps repeating. I mean, why do I still dream about when he was speaking? I feel five years of new journals. I feel five years with new hurdles, but this one I can’t seem to jump. Call me Jeffrey Drum swear you could search it up. This is nonfiction and whoever said words will never hurt me must have been burdened by insecurity. Cuz I can tell you firsthand that sometimes people’s words can feel like quick sand that gets you stuck. So when you find yourself sink, and let me lift you up cause people’s words don’t define your route, you bet on you since day one. You define yourself. It’s time you grab your backpack and empty it out and stop carrying the opinions of everyone else. Grab your backpack and let it all out. This is your life. Ain’t nobody else.

Sam Demma (07:43):

It’s time someone gave you your permission to forget what they said and focus on your vision. You only got one life to make it happen. So quit carrying the comments and all their reactions. You see, people are gonna say what they say, but unlike Nintendo life is a game that you can’t replace. So stop searching for the button, and I know it’s hard when their words put you outside and people these days seem to speak more boldy when they’re on line. That’s why I’m taking this moment to rewind and remind you that what matters most is how you see yourself in your mind. You see people’s words. Were never define your route. You bet on you since day one. You define yourself. It’s time you grab your back pack and empty it out and stop carrying the opinions of everyone else. Grab your back pack and let it all out. This is your life, ain’t nobody else.

Sam Demma (08:42):

If you enjoyed the poem, it would mean the world to me if you sent me a message at sam@samdemma.com via email, I would love to hear from you. There is also a book titled Empty or or Backpack that goes along with this project. And April 3rd, we will be traveling across Canada with the giant four foot backpack of beliefs bringing these messages into schools in front of students all around the country. If any of this sounds interesting, send me an email or check out the official tour website that includes the book, the Backpack, and all the information. emptyyourbackpack.ca. Again, that’s emptyyourbackpack.ca. I will see you very soon for the next episode and I hope you have a fantastic week ahead.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Sam Demma

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.

Dr. Ann Hawkins – Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer at Health Karma Group

Dr. Ann Hawkins - Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer at Health Karma Group
About Dr. Ann Hawkins

I am Ann Hawkins, Ph.D. Early in my career, I recognized the time and financial benefits of preventive healthcare, that being wellcare and keeping people healthy. Understanding the positive economic,
personal, and practical implications of prevention and responsible healthcare is the keystone and passion of my education and career.

My mission has been to develop a new dimension of delivering physical and mental wellcare products and services. After my tenure as a university professor and successful sales/marketing executive, I started my consulting firm WellCare Dimensions Inc., a new dimension in healthcare, which was my entrée into wellcare. From there, I developed the 24hr Virtual Clinic providing specialized pre-claim, preventive solutions to decrease physical and emotional health issues for employees, first responders, and students.

The next project is Aretae (being the best you) Aretae positively impacts all aspects of health and wellcare, providing programs and products which provide guided solutions to help people be responsible for their health and well-being. Aretae allows me to follow my insights in wellcare and integrate the next generation of health and well-being professionals worldwide, as, with the Metaverse, there are no boundaries.

I received my Doctorate in Sports Management from the University of Northern Colorado, a Masters in Sports Administration from Idaho State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education from Colorado State University. My doctoral dissertation evaluated a company & financial savings in keeping employees fit for work both physically and mentally.

Connect with Ann: Email | Linkedin

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Aretae WellCare

Health Karma Group

Doctorate in Sports Management – University of Northern Colorado

Masters in Sports Administration – Idaho State University

Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education – Colorado State University

Dr. Wayne Dyer Books

Empty Your Backpack by Sam Demma

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 (00:56):

Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator Podcast.

Sam Demma (01:00):

This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today’s special guest is Dr. Ann Hawkins, PhD. Early in her career, she recognized the time and financial benefits of preventative healthcare, that being wellcare and keeping people healthy,.understanding the positive economic, personal, and practical implications of prevention and responsible healthcare is the keystone and passion of her education and entire career. Her mission has been to develop a new dimension of delivering physical and mental wellcare products and services. After her tenure as a University professor and successful sales and marketing executive career, she started her own consulting firm, WellCare Dimensions, Inc. A new dimension in healthcare, which was her entree into WellCare. From there, she developed the 24-hour virtual clinic, providing specialized pre-claim preventative solutions to decrease physical and emotional health issues for employees, first responders and students. The next project is Aretae, being the best you. Aretae positively impacts all aspects of health and WellCare, providing programs and products which provide guided solutions to help people be responsible for their health and personal wellbeing.

Sam Demma (02:14):

Aretae allows Dr. Ann to follow her insights in WellCare and integrate the next generation of health and wellbeing professionals worldwide. As with the Metaverse, there are no boundaries. She recieved her Doctorate in Sports Management from the University of Northern Colorado, a Masters in Sports Administration from Idaho State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education from Colorado State University. Her doctoral dissertation evaluated a company’s financial savings in keeping employees fit, for both work physically and mentally. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Dr. Ann Hawkins, 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 youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today we have a very special guest from another country, the United States of America. Dr. Ann Hawkins is today’s special guest. Dr. Ann, please start by introducing yourself.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (03:13):

Thanks so much, Demma. I really appreciate it. So US citizens started out in the insurance area or so, so very familiar with the Canadian system, and the more Canadians I meet, you know, I still, I get still get reattached to the Canadian side of and saying all those words out “about” like you’re supposed to.

Sam Demma (03:36):

Love it. So tell the audience a little bit about who you are and, and what it is that you do day to day.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (03:47):

 Sam, I, I was really, really fortunate when I was a, in college, probably before many of you were even born in 1973, I went up to one of my, my college advisor and I said you know, Dr. John, we’re gonna be spending a lot of money on diseases. We could prevent him the next few years. And he put his arm around and he said, You know, Annie, that one’s gonna have legs, stick with it. Well, diabetes type two was not even a disease.

Sam Demma (04:11):

Wow.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (04:13):

So I’ve been very, very fortunate to stay on that path trying to get people to understand the value of their health and that they are responsible for that health. And my impact is what is the financial price that a company typically pays for some, trying to bring somebody back to health.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (04:37):

And that is considerably expensive. And my, I did my research in the early nineties, and so words like presenteeism weren’t around. We didn’t even look at mental health as a, as a causation of what happens to people and how they take care of themselves. So even in the early nineties, I mean, it, we were keeping people healthy. We were saving companies about $2,000 per employee per year if we did do something to keep them healthy. But as you well know, and as the health systems are finding that individual has to realize that they’re worthy of being healthy. And that starts with them as kids and the influences they get from their features and their parents. And sometimes it’s more from their teachers than their parents, because many times they see their teachers more than they see their old mom and dad.

Sam Demma (05:34):

Would you say educators deal with this same struggles and challenges that students do? And if so, h how can educators, you know, take care of themselves? <laugh>,

Dr. Ann Hawkins (05:47):

And it it’s hard. I was college pro professor for a long time. I made it in the US high school system for a year and then went back and got my master’s in on, on to get my PhD. But and we’ve seen it during the pandemic. We’ve seen it now with all of the stuff that’s going on in the states and the number of people that are getting out of education because of, of, of, of, of, of the lack of salary, lack of pay, lack of respect, basically. And cause it’s, and especially if you’re a mom or dad with kids and you’ve got kids all day long, finding that self care, that downtime when you really just are with yourself and are comfortable with that is difficult. Mm. But I think when, you know, taking that downtime for yourself and just be being with your thoughts, meditating, praying, whatever, call it during the course of the day, a during the day, and getting your kids and understand that without putting a class around what you’re doing. I mean, if, if those, if children could grow up understanding that self care, downtime and inward thinking and review was good for them and reaching out to get help when you need, not when you’re so far down the road that it’s take a time to get.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (07:28):

And if could start recognizing that six years by the time they were in high school or on college and had their own children, that would just be a part of their life.

Sam Demma (07:43):

And so tell me more about the work that you’ve done in this space to try and make that a reality, because I know you’re working towards it every single day. <laugh>,

Dr. Ann Hawkins (08:03):

I set up, because we don’t do healthcare. In fact, my first company was named Well Care Dimensions, a new dimension of healthcare that, of being responsible for your own health.

Sam Demma (08:16):

Mm.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (08:17):

And so when I got, when I, and so we, I was putting together a lot of different programs, different classes. And this is in probably the 1996 I started, so it doesn’t seem like a long time ago to me, but to y’all, it’s a long time ago. So in getting people to really understand, you know, we don’t have, you don’t have to take pharmaceutical. You can take something that’s, and, and natural, you know, I know they’re starving kids in India, but if you’re not, if you’re full, you don’t have to finish your plate. yes. You need to get up and move all the time. And just getting people to understand that the value of being in motion, I mean, we were not developed to be on ours all day long. <laugh> we were be in motion. And I mean, I, we were at a soccer game this weekend for one of my nephews, and this was almost a semi, it’s like the third or fourth level of soccer for eight, nine, and 10, 10 year olds.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (09:23):

And I was watch watching another team warm up and it was really interesting cause a lot of the, and it, this was all, all boys. A lot of the boys that were doing warm up drills couldn’t go step step hop, step step hop. They couldn’t get stopped to hop. And I was like, I, I don’t think they could probably gall because in the States, we just don’t have that much education now to teach those kids how to do that. So part of my whole thing is what do we do to help people get better and be, be, be better? So when I transferred outta healthcare, I got into the worker’s comp because in the United States if work comp, work comp was growing by 25 in cost by 25% a year in 2013, and that’s the only data you can find, I don’t think they want this to know.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (10:27):

And so it was like, and the cost of work comp claims are, I mean, work comp would actually be in the Fortune 500 as a company if it were a legitimate business. Yeah. Jesus. I know. It’s, it’s seriously. Yeah. And so I really wanted to help people get the help that they needed before. And I finally dawned on probably all starts in head, help people to think more open mind to rebut some of those negative thoughts that happen during the course of the day, of which 70% of our thoughts at least are negative. I mean, when you, when you, and get them to be aware of their surroundings and conscious of what’s going on. And the great news is, from all the data that I’ve seen and read and heard, is that we are truly right now in a consciousness growth atmosphere. Mm. And so, I mean, that’s a very, very good thing across the board for kids and for parents and, and for seniors to understand that there are a lot more of us that are looking at the what if it works side then, Oh, I did that before and it didn’t work.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (11:49):

Well, you know, when you were seven and you walk by that dog and it grilled you and bit you and at 27 you can’t pet a dog cause stop it <laugh>. But, and we all do it. We all do it. And I, I mean, and so a lot of the work we’re doing now is basically in that behavioral health space, that wellbeing space the resurgence face, getting people to understand that they are of value. And for all of us being cooped up in our homes for a couple years and cocooning, I mean, it was, and it was really easy to just lay on the couch and eat whatever going eat, watch some television instead of doing something that was moving and active. So hopeful, you know, knowing that we’re gonna get back to that place where we can, you know, where people are out and about more and they’re speaking to other people more and they’re getting together in groups of like-minded people so they can share their thoughts and ideas and move to that next level of consciousness.

Sam Demma (12:51):

That sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing a little bit behind the inspiration and the impetus to the work you’re doing. Tell me about the student program, you know, student First call. I think it’s very unique and good. I would love to hear a little bit about it.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (13:05):

Thank you. And we just, I mean it’s, it’s, we’ve got a student first call programs and they were originally just directed to college students of college students drop outta school in the US every year. And for those college students, and especially for the younger kids, I mean, they’ve been at home, their only impact has been a teacher on a video for the last a couple of years. And mom, mom, mom and dad’s. But the college over, what we do is we give students access 24 7, 365 to behavioral health clinicians who can help them when they need it. So as soon as you call in, you’re actually able to speak to a clinician who can assess you, get an evaluation, talk you off of the edge, and get you thinking differently. Then that counselor will talk you a couple more times if they need to. And then from there, if, if it’s necessary, we can then transfer them to a psychologist or a psychiatrist, which in the states is out outta pocket.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (14:16):

Yeah. Or we can hook them up with their parents insurance plan so that they get in someone. But I’m, I’m, I’m looking at two the middle schools, schools to families liked to say, you know, paid for either 50 50 split by the families and the school district or government funded whatever, to be able to give those parents and their underage children access to a clinician. And in, in the States, we can’t talk to those children with without a parent if parents consent unless they’re over 18. Yeah. But again, if you can get your six or seven year old, and I mean, it is really cool. So I’ve got a 18 year old grandson and a 15 year old grandson. And then the kids we were just with are like 12 and nine. Nice. But the great news is they’re having these great conversations with mom and dad that I, I never could, my generation never could have because our parents weren’t open enough. But if working with a program where the parents and the children could get help and mom and dad could learn and be guided Yeah. On how to be a little bit more openminded about hearing what their kids are saying. Everybody wins.

Sam Demma (15:57):

Yeah.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (15:58):

Everybody wins. And those kids grow up with a lot less baggage on their shoulders than their parents.

Sam Demma (16:06):

I love,

Dr. Ann Hawkins (16:09):

It’s very, very dear friend named Davell. We’ll know exactly who I’m talking about. <laugh>. And he’s, he’s not as old as I am in his fifties, but I mean, he came home one day and his mom said he was like 13. And his mom said you know, I bet all your friends at home arent talking about smoking marijuana. This was 30 years ago. Wow. Right. And so he is like, How did you know <laugh>? Why was a kid too? So he comes home from school the next, this was in the golden days, it went against the law. I understand that everybody was doing it. And sure enough, he enjoyed his first joint with his mom that the kitchen table <laugh>. But they are, she’s almost 90. They are still best friends. They communicate every single day. This mom at years knows everything that, that’s really cool. But we’ve got down those barriers. So both the parents head <laugh>. That’s awesome.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (17:43):

So, but in being able to get that across with the parents at a younger age and the kids at a younger age and the faculty staff and administration to buy in, everybody win.

Sam Demma (17:57):

What keeps you, First of all, you mentioned having these open lines of communication and encouraging students to reach out and ask for help so that they don’t live with too much baggage. funny enough, my, I wrote a book and it’s coming out on November 18th and the title is Actually Empty Your Backpack, <laugh> <laugh>. So I just felt compelled to share you, you mentioned the, the importance of reaching out and, and asking for help, the importance of keeping open lines of communication, getting everyone on board. but I’m curious to know what keeps you personally fulfilled and hopeful and inspired to show up to work every day and try and pursue this outcome despite the big challenge that it places in front of you?

Dr. Ann Hawkins (18:47):

Well, at almost 70 years, we just were able to start we just joined another company so we can even grow further. But, and our kids say to us all the time, you know, what, are you gonna retire? Well, they finally quit asking

Sam Demma (19:01):

<laugh>, They’re retired yet. I

Dr. Ann Hawkins (19:02):

Mean, Yeah. And cause it’s not, we’re not finished yet. We’re not finished yet. And it’s like, there are a number of times when I get down I get upset. cause I’m adhd and my husband is very calm, very soothing. I practice a bunch of times before I found him. But so it’s just, and I say to myself, You say this stuff to everybody else. Listen to what telling people, but how do, how, how, how, how do we do it? Bob and I are very good at and we’ve been in the fitness business for years and years and years before we got what we’re doing now, working out in just this at lunchtime you feed exercise so the blood can flow and that energy that you have can keep moving. And those thoughts keep, you know, and I for if somebody could find something that was a natural, something that you load on serotonin, dopamine to all of those, more of those positive thoughts coming through. And so, but I mean, you are what you create, you are what you think about.

Sam Demma (20:23):

Mm.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (20:24):

And you know, we all go through this. I get it. I leave the band on of these. But it’s when you’re thinking about not having money, guess what?

Sam Demma (20:35):

You manifesting it <laugh>. You’re gonna have more of not having money <laugh>.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (20:42):

Exactly. Yeah. So, and so we, I mean, we meditate ev day too. And so the medic, I am worthy. I am worthy, I am worthy of success. I’m worthy of being about being financially good. I’m worth, I’m, I’m worthy to be attractive. I’m worthy to, I’m worthy for my kids to have this, this, and this. And it takes a while to believe that. But it can just, you know, grow a little bit more and a little bit more. And I wish I could say I did this 24 hours a day, but I don’t,

Sam Demma (21:20):

What would you share with an educator listening to this right now who feels like they’re not worthy, who feels burnt out, who feels the opposite of all these beautiful things you just shared? <laugh>?

Dr. Ann Hawkins (21:35):

 find somebody you can talk to that you trust that will be honest. And I think that’s the hardest part. Sometimes when you’re not being to yourself, you need somebody to tell you that.

Sam Demma (21:51):

Yeah.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (21:53):

And not feel story for you. or, you know, it’s like doing a mental check. Why is this happening to me? And when you start to sweat, when you can feel that stress coming on, and I we’re, I’m still learning this now and into what we work with all the time is helping, it’s like, okay, whatever this stress is, I see this stress. I, I now I’m letting you go. Making me aware. And it’s hard to surrender to that. You know, we hear the word surrender all the time, but it’s if we were supposed to know the future, we’d be pulled the future and we would live so cautiously we wouldn’t have. Yeah. You know, and it’s on my computer screen I have it says always behind you or on your side. Cause the universe, whatever you wanna call, the universe is always on your side. The universe is not fighting against you, It’s fighting for you.

Sam Demma (23:10):

Hmm.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (23:11):

That’s, and I think, Yeah. Well, and to get kids to understand that too, I mean, in the playground, Susie said something to me that she didn’t, I was last picked to be on the soccer team. Whatever it is, it’s, there’s a lesson there. And the bigger the learning and the lesson, the bigger the effect on what happened you. And it’s like, okay, didn’t get it this time. She’s gonna over the sidewalk the first time up, up, up. Now a pebble still didn’t get it. Let’s put this boulder in the street. Right. How many times do we look up and go just why that happened to now and

Sam Demma (23:58):

Experience yourself

Dr. Ann Hawkins (24:01):

Point it. Right. Yeah. Been down that been down that we, we and we, we’ve all been down that path. You know, these barbie doll type Barbie and ken doll type people. If they still have those around, people e even remember, I mean everybody goes through this. The wealthy and the poor, you know, and it’s just, part of it is just how much you can take this in and realize that it is you, it’s not the world. It’s not somebody else’s fault. It’s not somebody else’s job.

Sam Demma (24:36):

Mm.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (24:37):

It’s your,

Sam Demma (24:39):

There’s that honest piece coming back. That’s why I think it’s important. You find an honest friend, you can talk to <laugh>. and

Dr. Ann Hawkins (24:47):

So it’s probably not a coworker. Cause they don’t, they don’t, you know, you don’t know where that’s going go. But, you know, and unfortunately very many of us don’t have friends that we’ve known one. Like, you know, I, I, these stories, this lady I hadn’t seen years was great, but not a lot of us have those anymore. Yeah. You know, if you moved from your hometown or whatever, you don’t have those people. But signing those people that are genuine, that want to help you grow. And you know, churches, synagogues, temples are good spots for that. Ministers, priests, nuns, you know, whoever you feel safe with Yeah. And is willing to share back with you.

Sam Demma (25:32):

Gotcha. when you are not feeling the best, aside from, you know, working on it yourself, who do you kind of lean on or you know, ask, ask for some help.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (25:48):

And I’m so fortunate that I have Bob, my husband. He’s my best friend. My soul made, we’ve been together since two nice whole opposites. But we each other all the time. Like people are like, Well, Dr. Ran and Bob, what do you mean that’s two people. So I’m very fortunate that I have have that. Yeah. But because, and we work a lot, most of our friends are are retired or cetera, cetera. So we’re basically a support system for both of this. Many times he’s more of a support to me. I to that’s I feel I think not, not a lot of couples have that. Yeah. From, and it’s hard to have that as you’re raising kids when you’re learning techniques. <laugh> are,

Sam Demma (26:45):

That’s

Dr. Ann Hawkins (26:45):

Awesome. You know, to find the common commonality, the common place. I mean, and Bob and I are fortunate together since office Bob’s desk. Nice. So we’re one of the few couples that can do that. But you know, if, if it’s not your spouse, a sister, a brother, if it’s not that, you know, it’s amazing who you can meet sitting in Starbucks sometimes. And sometimes people have more, are more successful talking to people that they don’t know. Yeah. Stuff that’s bothering them. Cause it, there’s never gonna be any feedback or any pushback. Yeah. Pushback. Yeah.

Sam Demma (27:31):

Yeah. Yeah. That’s so true. Yeah. I love that. And that’s such a great testament to your relationship. thinking of the educators that might be listening to this I think something that is really helpful when you feel a little burnt out, especially working in the education industry, is remembering why you started in the first place. And a lot of educators get into this field and this work because they wanna make a positive impact on the lives of young people. Do you have any stories that come to mind of students who you ha you know, who have gone down really challenging and struggle filled paths and made a big transformation due to education? and if so, maybe share one or two of them to hopefully rekindle some passion and, and a listener

Dr. Ann Hawkins (28:19):

Umactually in touch with some of my students from interesting. Just got reconnect with somebody on LinkedIn and his daughter is now a sophomore at the college that he actually attended where I, I spoke. But I think biggest one is one of my nephews who in Ohio couldn’t go through graduation cuz he missed so many graduation date.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (28:51):

So, and he was, if there was a chance not to be at school or do something stupid, he picked, he picked. Right. And so his brother identical twin brothers. One brother comes out gay as a junior in high school and the other one is straight. So he fought his whole senior year, the straight one. telling people that just because his brother was gay didn’t mean he was. So all of that stuff going on in, in his head. Well now he works in service as a first responder, has a master’s degree, married to wonderful children and now spends half of his time teaching at the university level.

Sam Demma (29:41):

Wow.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (29:42):

So it just, but it was a rough 18 years for his mom.

Sam Demma (29:48):

Ah.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (29:50):

So it’s really cool to kids say that. And then I used to give some very thought provoking. And so one of them, I, I hand the test out, I’d ask the question and, and they had to, they were the chairman of a fitness center at the college and what, what would they do? And they’d hand the paper back and then I’d hand it back out the next day on, on the Wednesday. And I’d say, Okay, sorry, but we had a 40% decrease in our budget. Tell me why you cut out X, Y, Z and why was there in the first place? Then they’d hand it back in again. And then on, on the last day, I would hand out the papers to somebody else and they’d have to grade them and give that person a budget. And they’re like, Why did you do that? That’s what is going. And I probably had, after I taught that class, I bet 10% of those kids were calling me within the next five years. Doctor Ann, you were right. There was a spell or grammar error on the first your paper handed you back your paper. And if didn’t, this was before spell check was available readily and

Dr. Ann Hawkins (31:24):

Doing, doing this cause this is what your boss. And so it’s, it’s effect and I don’t, are not, it doesn’t appear to that people are understanding or kids are learning that of. So I think, you know, for features, it’s the same with them. It’s, I mean, it’s and that deep breathing really does work. Or taking a pause when somebody says something to you when a child says something to you that really doesn’t resonate. It’s so hard. But it’s just look at that little face and not see the little bad man that’s living in there at that moment. Maybe picture a little angel over that wonderful child and say, I know there’s a lesson in here for me. Just chill. It’s hard, especially when you’re with them, you know, 5, 6, 7, 8 hours a day and now with, you know, breakfast served at schools and child as late as five 30 in the afternoon. Yeah. It’s, yeah. It’s hard. It’s hard for people that are working in offices too, you know, because they just can’t get out and spend the time with their kids. So

Sam Demma (32:53):

Yeah. Along your journey, you’re sharing some really great ideas and I appreciate your insights along your own personal journey to more self-awareness and more impact in the work that you’re doing. What resources have you found helpful aside from actual physical people in your life like Bob <laugh> what things have you found really helpful that you have continuously reread or return to that you think other people might enjoy looking into?

Dr. Ann Hawkins (33:26):

 I’m very much into spirituality. So we, I read a lot of or does homes. I love the mountains, so I love Aspen. So we go there a lot. But just a lot of the Intuits that talk and, you know, Jo Joza, there’s tons and tons of them. It’s just finding somebody that you can listen to on a podcast or read, read a book about, and we kind of all drop into our own authors. so it’s just finding the person that, I mean rights in the Wayne Dyer. I was awesome when he, he was alive. His books are still great. so it’s just looking into whatever talk to you.

Sam Demma (34:14):

Yeah.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (34:16):

 and for some people it’s, it’s the Bible or the Torah or the Quren, but whatever it is. And looking at that and reading it from your perspective, which is probably a very different perspective than how it was written.

Sam Demma (34:33):

Cool.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (34:34):

And so it’s like how do you take these great stories and apply them in your life today?

Sam Demma (34:45):

I love that. Oh, thank you for sharing that. I appreciate it. If someone wants to reach out to you and ask a question or start a conversation or inquire about some of your services, what would be the best way for them to get in touch?

Dr. Ann Hawkins (34:59):

Well, if I give you my email address that’s probably the easiest.

Sam Demma (35:03):

Sure.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (35:04):

Does that work? So I’ll give you which one of easiest We’ll try let’s do DrAnn@HealthKarmaGroup.com.

Sam Demma (35:24):

Awesome. DrAnn@HealthKarmaGroup.com.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (35:27):

Yep. And just in the, what do you talk, what do you want me to talk to about piece? Just put Sam.

Sam Demma (35:33):

The subject. Okay. Subject, Sam. Let’s spam her email with Sam guys <laugh>. Dr. Ann, thank you so much for taking your time to come on the podcast, share some of your experiences, some of the programs that you’re working on and creating. I really appreciate it and wish you nothing but a lot of joy, health, and success. Keep it up.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (35:53):

Thank you Sam, and you are doing such great stuff to be at the age you are and understand what your passion, your calling is now is just awesome. So many kudos to you.

Sam Demma (36:02):

Thank you. All right, we’ll talk soon.

Dr. Ann Hawkins (36:04):

Okay. Byebye,

Sam Demma (36:05):

I believe that educators deserve way more recognition, which is why I’ve created the High Performing Educator Awards. In 2022, 20 educator recipients will be shortlisted, each of whom will be featured in local press. invited to record an episode on the podcast, and spotlighted on our platform. In addition, the one handpicked winner will be presented with an engraved plaque by myself. I will fly to the winner’s city to present this to them and ask that they participate in a quick photo shoot and interview on location. The coolest part, nominations are open right now, and they close October 1st, 2022. So please take a moment to apply or nominate someone you know or work with that deserves this recognition. You can do so by going to www.highperformingeducator.com/award. We can never recognize educators enough.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Dr. Ann Hawkins

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.

Small Consistent Actions Sam Demma – TEDxYouth@Toronto

Small Consistent Actions Sam Demma - TEDxYouth@Toronto
About Sam Demma

Sam Demma (@Sam_Demma) is the youngest board director of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. A highly requested keynote speaker in the education space, Demma has delivered over three hundred presentations for clients who want to create a culture of hope, service, and self-belief. He is routinely invited for interviews on national media outlets and has been featured on the TEDx platform twice.

As a high school student, he co-founded PickWaste, a grassroots initiative that mobilized youth to pick up garbage in their communities. Within five years, the organization filled more than three thousand trash bags and provided students with six thousand meaningful volunteer hours. The initiative’s success confirmed for Demma how small, consistent actions could have a significant impact, and he lives that message in all he does.

Following his keynote presentations, students and educators often commit to performing more acts of kindness, taking small, consistent actions toward their personal goals, and proactively looking for ways to serve others. In his spare time, Demma dances the bachata, eats handfuls of tacos, and works to convince people that pineapples do not belong on pizza. For more information and booking inquiries, please visit www.samdemma.com.

Connect with Sam: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Canadian Association of Professional Speakers

TEDx

TEDx Talk, “Small, Consistent Actions”

PickWaste

Top 25 under 25 Environmentalists

www.samdemma.com

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 (00:13):

When I was in grade 12, my teacher told me three words that totally changed my life; small, consistent actions. It was April, 2017, and I was seated in his world issues class. Growing up, I have to admit, I wasn’t the brightest student and I didn’t like school all that much, but for some reason, every time I was in his class, I always felt engaged. And on this particular day, he was not talking about any ordinary topic. Instead, he was speaking about figures in history who have massively changed this world. People like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Gloria Steinham, Gandhi. The list went on and on, and he took these figures and he wrote their names on the board. This was the only teacher I ever had who still used the blackboard.

Sam Demma (01:21):

But then he began breaking down their lives, trying to figure out what common characteristics they all shared that enabled them to make a massive change in the world. We found they had many distinct traits that made them each different and unique. But there was this one thing, this one thing that was common among them all, they all took small, consistent actions that led to their global massive changes. You see, that day in class, my teacher proved to me and all of my classmates that if we wanted to make a massive change in the world, we could, and all we had to do was commit to a small, consistent action. I left class that day with a burning desire within my chest to try and make a change within my community. But like many of you, at the age of 17 years old, I had absolutely no idea how I was gonna do this. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t even know where I wanted to go to university, let alone talk about something like changing the world, right? Well, like many students, every day after school, I would walk home and my walk was about 30 to 40 minutes. I would take my headphones out, pop in my ears, listen to some music and podcasts. But after that day in class, I decided to change my routine. I took my headphones out, I put them in my pockets, and I began asking myself the questions,

Sam Demma (03:03):

Sam, how are you going to change the world? What is your small consistent action going to look like? Now, before I continue with the rest of that story, I need you to understand where I was personally at that point in my life, or else the story won’t make that much sense. Because two years ago, if you told me that I would be standing on this stage here today talking about a lesson that changed my life, I would’ve told you that you’re insane. In fact, I probably would’ve told you that I will be in the United States on a full ride scholarship playing division one soccer. Like many of you, I had a dream for my life from a very young age, and my dream was to play professional soccer. At the age of 13, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe and live by myself for six months and experienced the professional culture. And when I came back to Canada, I came back with a new passion for the sport. And throughout my four years of high school, I sacrificed everything to pursue my dream of playing professional soccer. But in grade 12, at the age of 17, everything changed. It was mid-November, maybe one week before the biggest opportunity in my soccer career, and I was playing in a friendly match with my team. It was just before half time, maybe five minutes before the whistle when I went shoulder to shoulder with this 250 pound beast.

Sam Demma (04:48):

And after our initial contact, I caught myself, but very quickly I realized that something felt a little funny in my left knee. And for the next five minutes, I ran around with some pain in my calf before deciding to put my ego aside and get off the field. And as I crossed the line, I immediately burst in the tears because deep down I knew that something was terribly wrong. And the worst part about it is that my parents weren’t even there, and I had to hit your ride home with my teammate. And for the whole 40 minute drive home, I pted in the backseat like a little child. Fast forward one month, I ended up getting the results from my mri, and it turned out I had torn the meniscus in my left knee. I felt absolutely defeated mentally and physically because I just missed the opportunity I had been training for so emphatically.

Sam Demma (05:50):

But you see, I wanted this dream so badly, so I would not give up. I got the surgery done and I got back onto the field. And just as things began to improve, I ended up tearing the meniscus in my left knee a second time. And this time around, looking back, I realized I broke down uncontrollably crying in front of my family, my friends, and my teammates. I couldn’t understand why life seemed to be beating me to the ground for no reason. I then had a second surgery, and I even took a fifth year of high school or grade 13 for you old folks back here to try and keep that dream alive. And just when I thought things could not get any worse, it happened again a third time this time in my other knee, which forced me to quit and give up the sport that I loved. It was at that point in my life that I realized I had so deeply attached my personal identity and self-worth to the sport I played. I mean, raise your hand if you have an email address here. I’m pretty sure we all do. Just to put it in perspective, it was so bad that my email was soccer, Sam 99, soccer was all I knew, and I feared that I would be worth nothing without it.

Sam Demma (07:16):

So that’s where I was at this point in my life when my teacher taught me this lesson about small, consistent actions. The reason I shared with you my soccer story is because I want you to understand you do not need to go through extreme adversity to knee surgeries and give up a lifelong dream only to realize that doing good things that benefit others also fulfills yourself. And my teacher proved that to me through his personal passion for solving world issues. And so while walking home from school, after that day in class, when I was asking myself the questions, How are you going to change the world? What is your small consistent action going to look like? I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I now see that I was taking the first small step towards building some serious momentum. And it took me 14 days to finally come up with an answer to those questions.

Sam Demma (08:21):

I was walking home when a coffee cup blew across the sidewalk, and I still can’t explain this portion of the story, but for some reason on an impulse decision, I decide to put my teacher’s theory to the ultimate test. I walked up to the cup, I bent down, and I picked it up. And for the next four months, I made my small consistent action picking up litter while walking home from school. I had no intentions of building something outta this, but to, to my surprise, my teacher was correct. And that small consistent action would soon thereafter grow into a citywide initiative. Because five days before summer break, my good friend Dylan saw me driving home and like any teenager, he pulled over, he rolled down his window, and he looked at me like this.

Sam Demma (09:17):

And then he said, Sam, what the heck are you doing? Why are you picking up garbage? And when I explained to him the theory that small actions lead to a massive change, he absolutely loved it. And then he made this statement that changed my future forever. He said, Sam, let’s do something with this. And that was the day that Pick Waste was born. Pick Waste is a community initiative that was started outta the necessity to play our small part in solving a global issue, while at the same time inspiring individuals like yourselves to realize the potential you have on this planet. It began on July 1st, 2017, and since that day, we have kickstarted four different cleanup crews in four different cities, completed over 80 cleanups, filled over 850 bags of garbage and picked up over 21,000 cigarette butts. It has also given me the opportunity to speak in front of over 8,000 individuals just like yourself, to spread this message and to raise awareness.

Sam Demma (10:29):

You see, our movement exemplifies the power of consistency. It was one small action, one small idea that led to this citywide initiative. But please do not get me wrong. The reason I told you about pick waste is not because I want you to go and start picking up litter, although if you do see it, please do pick it up <laugh>. But the reason I told you about pick waste is because I wanted to give you a real life example about how this theory of small, consistent actions played out in my personal life. But what is 10 times or even a thousand times more important is how this theory could play out in your life. Because there are thousands of social issues facing the world today that need courageous leaders like yourselves to step up and face these problems. The biggest lie we have ever been taught, told, or heard, is that one person is too insignificant, that one person is irrelevant in the bigger picture or on the global scale.

Sam Demma (11:36):

And I am here today to tell you that that is absolutely false, and I can even prove it to you in less than 10 seconds. Are you ready? Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Gloria Stein, and Lewis Tapp in Salman north of Will and Will before is Gandhi, Bill Dre and Forres, Nan, Gail, Fabio Rosa. The list goes on and on of people no different than you and I. You see, they’re just human beings who decide to commit to small, consistent actions, and it allowed them to change this world. What is stopping you from being the next person that I count on my fingertips? Tips Because my teacher told me that those figures in history are not anomalies. We can all change the world. Never underestimate the power of small actions executed consistently. Never underestimate the power of momentum because things in motion tend to stay in motion and never underestimate yourself because you are no different than any other change maker who has ever walked on this earth.

Sam Demma (12:47):

Now, before I wrap this up, I have one piece of homework that I wanna leave you with. As you leave this conference here today, I want you to think about one problem that you are passionate about, one problem that you wanna start solving. And over the next two weeks, the next 14 days, I want you to come up with some small, consistent actions that you can begin implementing in your personal life to start solving this problem. And I promise you, you’ll begin taking these actions, and it will start gaining momentum, and you will build a little initiative. And as you start to have an impact, people will begin asking you the question, “How do you plan on changing the world?” And when I was 17, in grade 12, I did not have ‘an answer to that question. But I hope that after hearing this presentation here today, if anyone ever asked you, how do you plan on changing the world,” you would take a little step back, put a big smile on your face, and respond with those three, simple but extremely powerful words; small, consistent actions. Thank you.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Sam Demma

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.

Richard Karikari – Former CFL Athlete and Co-Founder of Complete Performance Centre

Richard Karikari - Former CFL Athlete and Co-Founder of Complete Performance Centre
About Richard Karikari

As a proven leader in the domestic and international sports industries, Richard is known for his skills and experience in sports business operations, training and conditioning, minor association team management and his professional football career. He is passionate about promoting health and fitness for people of all ages.

Reputed for being self-motivated, over the past six years, he has founded and grown The Physio Studio. Currently operating at three permanent locations and various pop-up locations throughout the Durham region, he is excited to be working on getting a fourth location ready to open.

Other ventures include:
• Co-founding the Complete Performance Centre.
• President of the Durham Dolphins minor football club.
• President of the Ajax United Soccer Club, a black-focused club to get underprivileged kids back into sports.
• General Manager for the Ajax Soccer Club.

Prior to these endeavours, he was a professional football player in the Canadian Football League (CFL), giving him a unique perspective and first-hand understanding of sports from an athlete’s point of view.

Richard is a motivated and determined leader with strong managerial abilities in building, mentoring, and leading large, dynamic teams. He believes in displaying hands-on leadership in delivering activities and programs and supporting employees through first-rate employee development, performance management, and an environment where employees can strive for improvement in all areas.

Karikari works hard to build trust and respect with clients, colleagues, teams, and management and collaboratively develops strategic goals that drive organizations forward. Clients and business professionals enjoy working with him because he leverages his extensive experience to help them achieve business results diplomatically, responding to challenging situations with creativity, diffusing conflict, and upholding a high level of professionalism in all interactions.

He is a well-known community leader in the city of Ajax, and this fall, he is running for the position of school board trustee within the Durham Catholic District School Board

Connect with Richard: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Facebook

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

The Physio Studio

Complete Performance Centre

Ajax United Soccer Club

Canadian Football League (CFL)

Durham Catholic District School Board

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 (00:00):

Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator Podcast.

Sam Demma (00:58):

This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today’s special guest is someone who had a huge impact on me growing up as a young athlete and young man. His name is Richard Karikari. He is the proud owner and co-founder of the Complete Performance Center for Athletic Training. He trained me as the young man when I was pursuing my dream to play professional soccer. He is the president of the Durham Dolphins Minor Football Club, the President of the Ajax United Soccer Club; a black focused club to get underprivileged kids back into sports, and the general manager for the Ajax Soccer Club. Prior to these endeavors, Richard was a professional football player in the Canadian Football League, the CFL, giving him a unique perspective and firsthand understanding of sports from an athlete’s point of view. Today, he is also running for one of the positions as a school board trustee, which we’ll talk a little bit about today in this interview, along with his entire journey. I hope you enjoyed this 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 youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today we have a very special guest. This individual played a big role in my life as the development of an athlete, but more importantly, a young man. Richard, welcome to the show. Please introduce yourself.

Richard KariKari (02:20):

How you do it, man. Thanks, Sam. You know, I appreciate it. You know, I have been doing a lot of work with different groups in the community, so you’re one of them, and I appreciate you guys reaching back out.

Sam Demma (02:30):

Absolutely. for those of you who don’t know much about your journey and also your impact, can you please just talk a little bit about yourself, your, your story and what brought you to where you are today?

Richard KariKari (02:42):

You know, it’s, it’s first and foremost I’m from Ajax Pickering area. I grew up here. I came here in grade four. Most like, just like everybody else that came from the Toronto area. And you know, just, just went through the system, went through the whole Catholic system, went through St. Mary’s. I ended up going to university and I’m, I’m right back here as a small business owner, just like my dad was in this community. So, you know, my impact, I feel that I’ve been able to give is, is to the youth. Right now, currently the president of the Durham Dolphins as well as a gm Hja Soccer Club. So these are two things that, these are two platforms. I’m allow myself to speak with kids, parents. I let them know about my journey. So it wasn’t an easy journey.

Richard KariKari (03:23):

Everybody expects you just to go to school, get a scholarship, come back, and everything is gonna work out. It’s complete opposite. You know, the scholarship means the university has taken control of your life in some capacity. And I know a lot of athletes come back and tell me that, but for me, I try to guide them as best I can. Work with the schools, the guidance counselors, let them know that, you know, there is opportunities outside sports to, to make an impact and look just like yourself. You’re doing a lot, and I do appreciate what you’ve been doing for the community. But you, sports is a foundation of just getting kids to understand everything works off a team, right? Takes a village to raise a community, and that’s kind of mindset I have.

Sam Demma (04:00):

What sport did you play growing up and tell us a little bit about your journey through your athletic career,

Richard KariKari (04:05):

<Laugh>. So, I, I’ve got a couple interviews and people always say he must have played football his whole life. So I ended up playing in a professional football, but that was not my first love. My first love was baseball. I grew up in an era where the Blue Jays were the number one thing in town. You, if you didn’t wanna play baseball, actually something was wrong with you. I know that the main fans would probably think I’m crazy, but the B Chases was, was defined. Tron went one era. And growing up I played baseball. I played baseball, started in age H eight went through the system, did the house league select rap, Played on the one, probably the best travel teams where we had four or five guys drafted. And, and you know, it, it just, it just, it, you know, it’s full circle how things work out.

Richard KariKari (04:46):

And I tell parents this all the time. I was a small kid, You know, I remember your meeting your parents and, you know, you were a smaller, at a younger age when I started working with you and you will grow. I tell parents, Relax, just take a breather. And I think for myself, being a baseball be my first sport, which I loved tennis. I joined the tennis academy at age 13 and 14. Loved this sport. It wasn’t affordable at the time for my parents. I appreciate my parents given the effort that they did at that time to try to accommodate it, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t feasible. And then I kind of just started to play football a lot with my friends outside. And I think that’s the things that’s missing these days. Just the, the ability to just play the sport.

Richard KariKari (05:24):

And yeah, it just, it just worked out. And I, there is a teacher or two at St. Mary’s that kind of guided me, and I, and I, and I shout out to those teachers, Mr. Sheridan, who ended up being the, the headmaster at St. Michael’s College in Toronto who wanted me to actually transfer from St. Mary’s, go to St. Mike’s at that time, which was a dominate football program. And he said, I suddenly, he said, Rich, you got talent. I was only in grade 10, 11. I was like, We just played flag football. And he was like, Yeah, flag football, but you’re pretty damn good <laugh>. So, so I, you know, I took that with my mindset, came home and one of my friends who was a wrestler was playing for the Durham Dolphins. It was actually called Ajax Picker And Dolphins at that time, AP Dolphins played out the old Kingsman Field there. And he told me to come out. And that changed my life. I came out and because of my baseball arm being a pitcher, third baseman, I ended up being the quarterback for the team. And, you know, the rest is kinda history now.

Sam Demma (06:20):

That’s awesome. You’ve done so much for so many young people in the community. Why do you think sports are such a great foundation to anyone’s future success?

Richard KariKari (06:33):

You know, I can look at multiple ways. You know, I, I was what we call an average student. You know, my mom told me to get an 80, I to get a 75. You know, I don’t wanna push envelope too much. But sports allowed me to, to know that first of all, the friends around you is what keeps you in sports, right? There’s not a lot of sports nowadays that you’re, you’re an individual. There is a rare, you know, golf and, and other sports like that. But I always played on team sports where the friends were crucial, right? You go out with them, your social is a environment is around them goods and bads. You know, you have bad days. They raise you. You know, they’re the people that tell you it’s okay. I think sports is important for that. I think sports is also important just for the parents.

Richard KariKari (07:15):

Parents want their kids out active fit. You know, we, we talked about the obesity levels. That wouldn’t be the case. Know kids are active, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> screens were not an issue. You know, we had a, I don’t wanna age myself. We hadn’t attend on Nten was at its prime. You know, Super Nintendo came out that was at its prime, right? But screen time was not an issue for, for kids at my time. It was, it was literally get outside and played a sport. And I, and I think truly, you know, becoming to Durham, when I came to Picker in moved here, it saved me. It saved me. Cause I could’ve got caught up, you know, being a guy that just hung up the mall, right? No, I ended up being a guy that played road hockey at a street in Pickering called Pebble Court pretty much every day. <Laugh>, you know, so, you know, made that, that attribute to just being Okta, being around my friends, keeping me in a straighten narrow. We all know kids like to follow their friends. That’s why parents always say, you know, who you hang out with will sometimes be who you are. Mm. Well, my friends are guys who just love to play sports, you know, stay active after school. So I am what I am. I I wanted to be like that. And, you know, that’s what kept me outta trouble.

Sam Demma (08:18):

And it sounds like sports and just team activities is what introduced you to some caring adults in your life that guided you and really had a big impact. You know, being the headmaster at St. Mike’s and even other teachers that you had growing up I know personally from experience that when I was a student in school my parents actually came to you as like a caring adult figure and we’re like, Can you help guide our son? Like what are some of the conversations that you have with parents even that have kids that aren’t in sports and some that aren’t in sports? What are some of the conversations that you have or what do they reach out to you to ask?

Richard KariKari (08:56):

Well, you know, I, I think a lot of parents, and I do appreciate the parents do come and reaching out to me. I’m, I’m from this area, and I feel they can just relate. I think first and foremost will relate. I don’t have a doctor beside my name. I further my education end up with my masters, but that’s irrelevant to the parents. Yeah. They just see Richard as a guy who’s coaching kids, who trains kids. So there’s a mental and physical component to that. And they see me as somebody who, if you can get into my son or daughter’s head athletically, physically emotionally, when you’re training athletes, then you can also talk to them about their behaviors, good or bad. And that trust is what I’m, and I, and I all sneaky, I’m not gonna lie to you, I knew a lot about kids, you know, if their grades were slipping, but the parents are still bringing them to me to work with them.

Richard KariKari (09:39):

Parents will kind of slide that information in there, and as I’m training the clients or training the athlete, I’d leak it in there. Hey, Sam, you know, how you doing, Sam? You know, just wanna get an idea. You know, you gotta, you got an 81 in your English, you know, but you know, you usually get 88, so what’s going on? And, you know, sometimes you’re truthful with me. You’ll just say, Coach, you know what’s going on? I met this wonderful girl, and I think she’s distracted me or coach, I’m doing some projects that my parents don’t know about which is a great, a project you’re doing right now. And it’s kind of distracting me. I’m really trying to change Durham. I’m trying to be a more impactful to just being a regular student in an English class. Those are things you may divulge to me, but you may not divulge to your parents. And then, you know, that gives me an opportunity to kind of give you my advice on how to either A, be more open with your parents, or b to continue on your journey, but not, and not suffer the, you know, the outcome of maybe a great job. And in the long term.

Sam Demma (10:29):

Hmm. Richard Carri Carri, the trusted parent advisor of the Durham region, <laugh>, you know what? Like,

Richard KariKari (10:37):

Don’t give away my seat now. My secret’s gonna be up now. No kids are gonna be, I’m very transparent with me. So, no, no.

Sam Demma (10:42):

You know, it is funny, when I stopped playing soccer and I’m, you know, I’m, I was, I was still in my late teens, I still found it difficult to kind of rebuild my image. You know, everyone looked at me as the soccer guy. And, you know, similarly to yourself, you’ve been so involved with sports your whole life. And some people might think your current interests, they don’t really relate exactly. But I would argue the opposite that, you know, if you’re able to pursue something and achieve greatness in one area, those same, you know, skills and attributes can be applicable elsewhere. Tell me about the other personas of Richard that no one really sees about.

Richard KariKari (11:19):

You know, something, I’m, I’m a quiet person and, and everybody, and here’s a key thing about me, and I say this for anything I do, everybody knows where to find me. Mm, right? I’m always at the same location here. I’m always working with athletes where, if not the general public, and, and I strive to focus on what’s in front of me and not about anything, what I call distracting me, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And I think the, from when parents really do come to me, I, I find the time and I will get an answer. It’s sometimes not an answer they want to hear. And I know some of the tough ones I’ve, I’ve dealt with is, you know, my kids started to, you know, smoke. Those are one of the toughest ones. Cause I’ve never smoked before. Mm. So it’s really hard for me to relate and, and I try to talk to the athlete or the, or the individual.

Richard KariKari (12:04):

And, you know, sometimes I have to be very honest, the parents, if you have a relative around you that smokes, maybe that’s what’s happened. Maybe they’re seeing it, maybe they’re witnessing it, you know, so it’s very hard for them. Maybe they have to take some responsibility for it. So I, I have to be honest, like, it’s, it’s really more of me trying to just put myself in both shoes, but at the same time, be honest, just be honest with either side, who I’m dealing with. And that I think parents that have come to me and athletes have come to and will probably recognize that I’m just, I’m very thorough in my decision making. Mm.

Sam Demma (12:35):

You, your, you know, you also have your own kids, and I’m sure there are people in your life who, when you can’t get through to yours, you lean on <laugh>. But you’re starting to gain a big interest in, you know, being a part of the community in these school space, in the education world. And I would assume an aspect of that is because your own kids are in it. Tell us, tell me more about that interest and that passion and why you wanna pursue being one of the counselors.

Richard KariKari (13:04):

Yeah, so, or

Sam Demma (13:05):

Trustees,

Richard KariKari (13:05):

I should say. Trustee. Yeah. So a lot of parents have come to me for, again, various issues. And I’m so happy, thankful for that. And, and ultimately for me, I have to start making some decisions because I’m starting to see a reoccurring trend. And it’s, it’s truly a trend. And you start looking at the research and data, same way you have done in your field, you start to say, Oh, hold one second, man, this is, this is not just a, a simple one off. This is not just a, a seasonal thing. This is actually something that potentially could be a change from, you know, policy, curriculum, you know, mental health could be anything. It could be anything above the, that you could start to say, How can I make a change in that direction or change in that for, for kids in the future.

Richard KariKari (13:48):

And that’s why ultimately started looking at the role of trust. And it took me about a year to decide that, you know, everybody pushes you towards me, a counselor, a mayor, I’ll, and I’ve said this and I’ll say it again. My, my, I don’t have interest in that at the moment. My interest right now is in continue to work with athletes, continue work with youth, Okay. Continue to guide people. And I think this is why it was the best fit for me to, to run as Ajax Catholic board trustee. It, it, it just fit well and well. I know have some public, have some public school people. Really ho why didn’t you go for public? I’m like, I understand, but my faith is Catholic. I went to St. Mary’s. you know, my kids are baptized in St. Francis. So I, I, I, you know, I mean, for me, I, I’m Catholic, right? But I continue to help, regardless of what board you come from I’ll continue to help, but for me, from a formality point, I, I fail those best for me to put my hand, my head my name in for Ajax Catholic trustee.

Sam Demma (14:39):

What has been the response from all your friends, family, the community at large? <Laugh>,

Richard KariKari (14:46):

It’s it’s exactly what you started by saying it’s Richard, well, the CPC guy, or Richard, the HX picker and Dolphins guy, or Richard, the HX soccer guy. It’s really breaking the the, the stereotype of who I am, right? Or the ex professional football player guy. You know, I have so many hats and I’m, I’m thankful that I have these hats to wear because when you have a lot of hats, good or bad, you’re making an impact in different areas. So I feel that the people around me, I’ve seen the social media thanking me, saying finally, I, I did get a lot of personal emails saying, finally <laugh>. And I, and I rep, I did reply all of them. I’m like, I, I understand. And I also get people saying, same thing I said before, I, I hope that I was wishing you could do the other board. I’m like, No. My focus again is just working with as a, as a Catholic trustee. And that’s what I, I’m aiming for. So it’s been amazing, all the support out there. It’s been amazing. And I’m hoping everybody can go out and vote the week of the 17th to 24th, and hopefully we can make change within the Durham region.

Sam Demma (15:48):

That’s awesome. What are the things that you’re hoping to support with in schools or like maybe for the parents who are curious, like what exactly is your role, you know, as a, as a trustee, if they’re not too involved in the system? <Laugh>

Richard KariKari (16:03):

Trustee, again, a trustee. You’re, you’re there for the parents, okay? You’re there for the youth. You’re there to be in an ear. It’s not always about the bad issues, it’s also the good issues. You’re there to support the schools. There’s gonna be different events that, you know, involve the youth, that you wanna make sure that you’re present, you’re there to continue to build the faith. We are in the Catholic faith, right? So you wanna make sure our kids, our kids are, our youth, are continuing to, to understand the Catholic faith. These are all different things that, you know, I my, I want to be a part of, right? But the most important thing is wanna build community. I think that’s ultimately the biggest thing. It’s too diverse here in Ajax that we do not wanna get caught in a situation that all this diversity will turn into everybody being separate, whereas the whole is to build.

Richard KariKari (16:49):

And I, and I’ve started that mindset at Aja Soccer. It’s our model. It’s our diversity inclusion model, which we brought in three years ago. And I’m, I’m pushing hard. We are a melting pot at a, a soccer, we are a melting pot that Durham dolphins. I want more and more kids to be involved in sports that they may not be a part, a part of their cultural background, which is a better way of saying, you know, there’s always a, and I can make this statement, there’s always been a stigma that if you’re Italian, you must be great at soccer <laugh>. You know, that’s, that’s a stigma, but you know something, why can’t semi dema play, you know, football? Why can’t stand semi dema play, you know, badminton? So these are all different things. We wanna build that community. I played tennis, I played badminton, I played, you know, volleyball in school.

Richard KariKari (17:34):

I think everybody took an attempt at that. We wanna build that in other ways outside just athletics. Build that in, in, in realms of our stem. Build that in realms above getting our kids and our high school students into job opportunities co-op, which you did co-op in, in, in this building here, which we work out of, you had an opportunity. Now see the different side at that time, at that time was called cpc. Yeah, you got a chance to see different side. So I think those are things that I wanna make sure that we continue to build on.

Sam Demma (18:02):

If a parent is listening to this right now or anyone in the education community and they wanna reach out and just like ask you a question, what would be the best way for them to get in touch?

Richard KariKari (18:13):

I have cards going all through the, the Ajax area. They can contact me. I do have a number. It’s 289-201-0497. Give me a call. I’m always available. You know, I do coach sports programs. If I get a call while I’m coaching, don’t worry. I’ll pick up and I’ll make sure, I’ll give you a call right back. My email is richard@completecentre.com. You can give a call, sorry, an email there. Ask me any questions as well as my social platforms. You can ig me or if not, send a message to Facebook. Either way you’ll get a response back, probably.

Sam Demma (18:45):

Awesome. Rich, thank you so much for taking the time to chat, share a little bit about your future pursuits and what you’re hoping to do in the community, and it was really inspiring just to catch up and chat, and I wish you all the best.

Richard KariKari (18:56):

Appreciate it. Thanks, Sam.

Sam Demma (18:58):

Hey, it’s Sam again. I hope you enjoyed that amazing conversation on the High Performing Educator podcast. If you or someone, you know, deserves some extra recognition and appreciation for the work they do in education, please consider applying or nominating them for the high performing educator awards. Go to www.highperformingeducator.com/award. You can also find the link in the show notes. I’m super excited to spotlight and feature 20 people in 2022. And I’m hoping you, or someone you know, can be one of those educators. I’ll talk to you on the next episode, all the best.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Richard Karikari

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.

Atul Temurnikar – Co-Founder and Chairman, Global Schools Foundation (Singapore)

Atul Temurnikar - Co-Founder and Chairman, Global Schools Foundation (Singapore)
About Atul Temurnikar

Atul Temurnikar (@atultemurnikar) is a prominent member of the education industry in ASEAN, North & South Asia & Middle East. Now he serves as co-founding trustee and Executive Chairman of Singapore-based Global Schools Foundation (GSF), a not-for-profit organisation.

Mr Temurnikar is a staunch advocate of high-quality education that transcends socio-economic boundaries from Korea to Japan in the East, to Singapore to Malaysia in ASEAN and India and Middle East. His significant efforts in the education sector include as a member of the Schools Sub-committee of the National Integration Committee (NIC) set up by the Government of Singapore.

Mr Atul participated in recommendation of changes to the Indian Foreign Direct Investment’s (FDI) policies for India’s education sector, which were then implemented in 2013 with special cabinet approval. Many of other suggestions given to India’s former MHRD Minister were seen to have been implemented in the NEP 2020.

On the business community front, Mr Temurnikar is instrumental in bringing big ideas and big minds together from Singapore and India, and serves as the Patron of the Singapore chapter of the Institute of Directors (IOD India).

In the past two decades, Mr Temurnikar has been invited by several forum such as Institute of Directors, Horasis, Expert Guest on XL Podcast with Graham Brown on Leadership and Agile Thinking in Education
Expert Guest on MoneyFM 89.3, a Singapore based radio on the topic of mental health issues.

Achievements : Some of Mr Temurnikar’s key accolades include:

Distinguished Fellow award from the Institute of Directors, India;
The Walter L. Hurd Executive Medal, awarded by the Walter Hurd Foundation USA for demonstrating exceptional adherence to quality within and outside an organization;

Award of social recognition for contribution to SINDA in 2006 by then Dy Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, for outstanding efforts in social services for the underprivileged in Singapore.

An eloquent speaker, Mr Temurnikar has delivered motivational speeches on leadership, entrepreneurship, life choices and the importance of education including at the Global Convention of the Institute of Directors in London, among others.

He ventured into the education sector after a 16-year technology stint with highly reputable global organisations such as IBM ASEAN South Asia and HCL Technologies.

Growing up in a middle-class family, Atul was among the top 3 students and ranked 3rd Merit among a million students who attended the Grade 12 exams in 1979 in Maharashtra (India) state board examinations.

Connect with Atul: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

ASEAN, North & South Asia & Middle East

Global Schools Foundation (GSF)

National Integration Committee (NIC)

Indian Foreign Direct Investment’s (FDI)

Institute of Directors (IOD India)

XL Podcast

MoneyFM 89.3

Distinguished Fellow award of the from the IOD India

The Walter L. Hurd Executive Medal

SINDA

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 (00:00):

Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Dducator podcast.

Sam Demma (00:59):

This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today’s special guest is Atul Temurnikar. Atul is a prominent member of the educational industry in ASEAN, North and South Asia and the Middle East. Now he serves as co-founding trustee and Executive Chairman of Singapore-based Global Schools Foundation (GSF), a not-for-profit organisation. Atul is a staunch advocate of high quality education that transcends socioeconomic boundaries from Korea to Japan in the east to Singapore, to Malaysia and Asia and India, and the middle east. His significant efforts in the education sector include as a member of the Schools Sub-committee of the National Integration Committee (NIC) set up by the Government of Singapore. His accolades and achievements could be listed for the next 10 minutes. He has done so much for so many young people in the world of education, and I’m so grateful and honored to have him on the podcast here today. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Atul and I look forward to seeing you on the other side. Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today I’m joined by a very special guest, Atul. He is situated all the way across the world. <Laugh> We’re recording this before he goes to bed and right after I am waking up. Atul, please introduce yourself and tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

Atul Temurnikar (02:34):

So good morning everyone listening on this podcast, my name is Atul Temurnikar, and I’m a co-founder and chairman of a school network based all the way in Singapore.

Sam Demma (02:48):

Tell me a little bit about this school network. What inspired you to start it roughly I believe 20 years ago now, or become a part of it. And what does this network aim to do?

Atul Temurnikar (03:00):

So the school network, when we say we are looking at you know, a combination of a preschool primary school, high schools, and and, and these schools are almost like all in one in one location. And we’ve got about 35 schools in a network. These are spread across 10 countries. We are educating about 70 nationalities of students across our schools. It’s a huge diversity, right? So the schools are essentially providing education to all the expats, as well as local citizens of various countries. And the schools aim to be the, the substantially higher quality education providers in their, in their countries and geographies. And we, we are basically using these as community schools to be able to provide a great value proposition to our stakeholders, meaning our students and parents, so that they can get the highest quality of education at the prices that they’re paying so that they can get much better education for their children. And they can go to wonderful and beautiful universities, including the Ivy league universities and the us and UK and all over the world.

Sam Demma (04:13):

What, what inspires you to work on this project? Like tell me a little bit about your journey from, you know a student yourself to where you are today.

Atul Temurnikar (04:25):

So let me take you back. I would say roughly about 35 years back, you know, I was just, just coming out of my high school and and one of my colleagues and me, we kind of decided that we got a summer break. We had, you know, weeks to go for our results to come in. And we said, why don’t we do some activity? You know, like taking some home Touche tuition for students who are aspiring to be, you know, great students in the, in the high level exams. And we kind of gave a small ad in our, in the local city newspaper. And we say, Hey, we are tutors. And we wanna give you some sort of at institutions during this summer break. And unfortunately nobody turned up, maybe the, the ads are not really visible to anyone, or secondly, could be a possibility that we were not seen very credible and very genuine in our approach.

Atul Temurnikar (05:15):

So that was my first with education. When I had just enrolled myself into an engineering, it’s a very prestigious engineering institution in India, in south Asia. And so I began my journey with education with that first point of failure, where I was willing to offer my tuition services. And incidentally, I scored very high, extremely good performance in my high school. I was ranked fourth in the entire state of Matra. And that helped me kind of build my confidence that, you know, academics is something that, you know, you really have to work hard at it, but at the same time, if you get it right, you can really, really score very big in that, that, so with that kind of a background and fast forward to 20 years back I used to work in a very cozy job in IBM, Singapore based out of Singapore covering the whole of Asia region.

Atul Temurnikar (06:10):

And we were able to primarily provide a, a sort of a feedback from the community to try and understand what issues were going on. So when we were looking at it, we realized that there’s a possibility of providing a affordable education for expats who were relocating around the countries who may be not paid by their MMC companies or organizations for their school fees of their children. And so they used to kind of struggle with the budgets. And so we said, Hey, why don’t we look at something like, which is more affordable and we take it to the community and see how, how, how good it goes. And interestingly, very surprisingly to all of us, we realized that when I say we have a couple of friends, you know, just kind of having coffee together and trying with this idea. And so when I announced this particular school in Singapore, right next to the presidential palace of Singapore, and when we got thousands of people turning up to kind of know more about the school and they came to the open house and they said, well, we really like something, which is great value proposition.

Atul Temurnikar (07:21):

We think you guys can do it, but we don’t see anything here. Right? So they had, we had to build confidence. We had to build track record, and that’s how it got started. It, it was mainly a trigger from the community of what they were asking for. And we said, can we package a product together that meets the requirements with the community, rather than saying, Hey, here’s our school. You gotta pay 50 grand a year and, you know, take it or leave it. So we, we kind of did a reverse approach and we said, let’s price the product first and then go back and construct the cost structures so we can make a successful enterprise out of it. And that’s how it got started.

Sam Demma (07:57):

I love the story. Tell me a little bit more about how they, these schools differ from other schools in the area or, or, or, or what makes them from your perspective and the boards and teams perspective, a higher level of education.

Atul Temurnikar (08:14):

So one of the things that really differentiate us, I mean, there are, there are many things that really add to the whole outcomes driven game as we call it performance driven game. One of the basic things that really works for us is we have created a very strong, fundamental tech layer. I would call it the learning technology layer, which is allowing us to kind of bring all schools into one system, be able to have all systems and procedures automated, the workflow’s automated. So in a way, if I were to give you an example of what that tech layer does, it improves the learning for a child by almost 20 to 25% in terms of how we bring and deliver the education to them, and in terms of how they would’ve got it in other schools. And this is based on some primary statistics that we got from benchmarking institutions.

Atul Temurnikar (09:05):

The second thing we have done is really to make sure that teachers are very efficient so that, you know, they don’t really spend too many hours and minutes in trying to do the same redundant jobs, getting piece of information from one place to the other. So the entire teacher’s communication was actually automated. And the third thing we did was really to look at the quality of our academic excellence, you know, how are we delivering this academic lectures and, you know, the whole program and how do we benchmark with respect to top leading world institutions? And so we initiated the benchmarks. And from there, we realized that our education excellence that we were providing was actually really on par with some of the world’s best educational institutions. And as a result of that one of the benchmarks, very popular one, it’s called the Malcolm ball Ridge benchmark from the us, it’s managed by the ball Ridge foundation and the benchmarks are literally universal in the world.

Atul Temurnikar (10:07):

So we started benchmarking each of a campus with that, and it’s a nine parameter benchmark it’s done by independent assessors. And you got no say no control of what they’re gonna see. They basically evaluate the entire campus based on the academic excellence that we are able to offer on evidence basis. And then they come and do a physical inspection of this. And then they finally say, well, are you world class compliant and watch your score? And if not, then where do you stand? So I think this process of vibration really helps all our school stakeholders to be able to understand where do they stand with respect to a world class institution, like out of a score of let’s say 1000, are they in the band of 800 to 900, or are they below 500 that really gives them a great way of measuring their own academic excellence.

Atul Temurnikar (11:00):

And this is done at a process level system level institution level, and then they can really take the, what we call as opportunities for improvements or offi to be able to take back and then kind of create an action plan and improve your educational services. So it’s, it is bits and pieces of each of these things that we’ve been able to put together. So today, if we go to any country, any new markets, we are able to literally get all these things together and bring in a huge amount of synergy and integration with our school system, through the tech layers and through the various systems and excellence models that we’ve created.

Sam Demma (11:38):

That’s amazing. It sounds like this is something you’re extremely passionate about. What, what is the, the hope, the hope or the goal over the next 20 years with the, with the foundation.

Atul Temurnikar (11:52):

So if I were to simplify the hopes and goals, I would say number one, we would like to expand geographically to new markets. We’ve been predominantly in Asia, Southeast Asia, particularly. So the countries like Korea, Japan which part, which are part of north Asia, we have got Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and middle east United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. And and you know, so these are the countries that, where we are already in, but I think education is pretty universal in nature, right? Every country’s got schools and private schools and public schools and they have their own unique character. So our intention is really to expand to markets such as the west European markets of Spain, Portugal, Italy you know, the France and Switzerland. And, and then of course the UK markets and the north American markets of Canada and north America and USA. So idea is that, you know, now that we’ve got a technology driven educational product, can we take this to these markets? And, or can we work with the schools over there? And can we, how can we bring in the synergy so that those schools can really fire their optimum efficiencies, whether it’s a student or teacher or parents, they can really get the best benefits they can. And, and that was, that is one of the major hopes and aspirations that we have to really take this world class education into the different new markets.

Sam Demma (13:25):

It sounds like education has been a big pursuit for yourself in terms of the engineering background and you know, doing really well in high school, ranking forth in your whole region. What resources have you found or courses have you been through or books, have you read that you found were foundational in your own self education?

Atul Temurnikar (13:51):

So, you know it’s very interesting because, you know, engineering is a stream that really gets your thinking and acting very analytically. Yep. And second thing is I had a, you know, the privilege of doing my master’s in business administration from university of east London. So when you combine the principles of management with the engineering aspects, you can create a very different perspective of an educator because when you start understanding education, exactly what are the underlying layers, what are the challenges and how do we put it together and put the entire learning stack together. Then this is where the engineering and the, the principles of management really come in, principles of management, allow you to really apply the aspects of scale and enterprise growth into the entire ecosystem so that you can look at it more like a independently, you know, self-sustaining organization financially prudent complying with all the best practices in finance.

Atul Temurnikar (14:51):

And at the same time apply the aspects of principles of management for talent development, for leadership, scalability and, and also applying the aspects of engineering to the composition of products. I mean in one of our campuses in Singapore, which is going to be featured very soon on a, one of the, as a documentary on one of the most prestigious channels there is a very, very integrated school bus terminal that deals with 600 vehicles at any point in time. And, and, you know, you talk about 120 buses close to 500 cars and taxis, and it’s almost like a school bus terminal upon which school campuses is situated. And this entire technology that we were able to use to make it simplified so that it doesn’t cause and spill our traffic jams into the neighborhoods. And it was able to bring in efficiencies and transport for our own people, our stakeholders.

Atul Temurnikar (15:50):

So we use the simple concepts of engineering for delivering education within the campus through smart learning ways delivering various aspects of learning again, using technology. And then more importantly to make sure that the whole organization as a campus really functions very efficiently and, and, and something that the people look forward to every day is not a place where you can actually, you feel that, oh, it, it is gonna be a liability for us to kind of go there a difficult day already. I’m getting fatigued in, in the learning aspect and then things don’t work. Right. And imagine going to a school where you feel every day, you are more energetic to get up from your bed and go to the schools instead of, you know, staying back at home. And, and we’ve seen that evidence in our students when they come back, when they were coming back slowly from the post COVID stage, and they were coming to the physical schools and they said, we don’t wanna stay at home.

Atul Temurnikar (16:45):

It’s been too much. We would like to come back to school because that’s where we got friends. That’s where we have all our you know, ecosystems of learning. And we can learn better in schools rather than sitting at home and signing in, into a zoom session. So I think that’s really a testimonial coming in from various students and parents that the technologies that are being used in the schools are working and the school systems, which are being designed not to tax them or burden them. You know, there’s sometimes what happens is schools in their enthusiasm start putting too much of tech layers onto the students. So you got like 10 different systems that you need to log in, something for career, something for lessons and homework, something else to talk to the teacher there, you’ve got WhatsApp channels going on, you know, social media fees going on ly, or Instagram’s coming in, you know kind of disturbing all the students.

Atul Temurnikar (17:36):

But I think that’s what we are trying to do, simplify the entire effort in, in the ecosystem of communications, in, in what you’re trying to learn and make it very easy for, for students to kind of, you know, seamlessly move from one place to the other place, be it virtual, be it offline education. And this is where an institution’s tech background really makes a big difference in the way it can be put together. And this is not available of the shelf. Mind you, we’ve got our own technology company which has close to about 80 software developers working for us fulltime, and they build up bridges and they build the technologies for us so that everything can be managed very coherently seamlessly across and the information and the services cetera can be provided to students in a much more efficient way.

Sam Demma (18:26):

That’s awesome. How did your school’s transition during the COVID 19 pandemic when that all unfolded what, what shifted or had to happen or change in your schools?

Atul Temurnikar (18:39):

So we had a very unique experience in, in case of just when the COVID was about to happen, or let me take you to 2018. So during 2018, we actually implemented a new brand new campus called a smart campus in Singapore. And essentially what it does is it has all elements of technology in the classroom, meaning that you can have hybrid lessons in the classroom. Now, people asked us, why did you do it? Were you like, you know, sounded off that COVID is gonna come. And obviously nobody knew COVID is gonna come, but we implemented those technologies to bring in the, what we call as a student exchange programs so that students can sit in their classrooms exchange a, a sort of a lecture, or, you know, have a joint lecture on some topic with any other classrooms of any other campuses. And when they, with this technology was implemented.

Atul Temurnikar (19:31):

And just about when the COVID happened in the Jan of Feb of 2020, we already had the underlying technology in place. All we had to do was just roll it out to all the users. It was probably pre COVID rolled out to about 20% of the users. And then we overnight within a week I think Japan was the first country that immediately applied to lockdowns. And as soon as we got a lockdown message and we said, everything is closed down, we took just seven days. Our tech team was fabulous. It took seven days implemented the zoom, what we call the zoom webinar sessions across all campuses. And everybody was on virtual, just a maximum a week of kind of interruption. And, and that really gave a huge head start because it meant that the students that did not have any negative impact of the COVID, especially during when many countries were under lockdown and, you know, like every country due to regulations and how the things were evolving were actually bringing in the reversals and lockdowns at a different rate and a different pace. So that helped us. And we were able to make sure that every single student was on virtual, every single teacher was able to provide those tutorials and hold the classrooms without actually missing out on any single period. I think that’s how it really helped us. And the parents did recognize that we were very quick to come back with this virtual concept, and that was very helpful to everyone and highly appreciate it across the communities.

Sam Demma (21:12):

This is amazing roughly how many students are across all the different campuses. Like, do you know some of the numbers around, you know, how many students are involved? I think you said there’s roughly 30 fives, 35 campuses or schools now.

Atul Temurnikar (21:27):

Yeah. 35 campuses. And we’ve got close to about 31,500 students.

Sam Demma (21:33):

Wow. That’s this is awesome. Take me back to year one of, of starting this, did it start with one campus and like, how has the growth continued over the past 20 years?

Atul Temurnikar (21:49):

So when we started with the first campus I think on day one, we probably had just about under 50 students. And, but by the end of first year, we were almost like three 50 to 400 students in the first campus. And at the word of mouth really was extremely beneficial to us because the value proposition was so similarly compelling that the word of mouth really was like a typical social media wildfire. You know, it, it just went around everywhere and we didn’t have to do any marketing. In fact, the first five years of us campus, we were with zero marketing costs and a hundred percent word of mouth. And, and of course, when we started expanding to other countries, again, it was a action of border mouth, as we were being invited to Japan and Malaysia to come and set up campuses because they said, this is great.

Atul Temurnikar (22:38):

You know, we would love to have international education, but we’d love to kind of, you know, get it at the right, right price point. And that was what we were able to deliver. So in a way it was a great experiment that we started and we were able to make sure that it was sustainable. It was not something like a fly by night kind of operator idea that, you know, after two years, just, you just raise your hands and say, sorry, but my idea was different. You know, we can’t run the schools this way. <Laugh> so I think that way it was extremely you know, well planned and well executed. And we had a fantastic team that was doing work on the job on the ground, making sure that, you know, every aspect of these infant stages of every school, you know, the early years of every school, the first two to four years were taken care of with all diligence, as well as making sure that everybody was pretty satisfied with it.

Sam Demma (23:32):

What does a day in the life of a student, on one of these campuses look like, and does it differ at all from other schools? Like I know here in Canada, you know, our schools are quad master based, meaning students will, you know, do four classes per semester. And it, the school is broken down into the school year is broken down into two, like two sections of, of four classes each. Some schools here even do eight courses per semester. I’m curious to know what does the average day look like for a student in one of your school campuses?

Atul Temurnikar (24:12):

So you know, in as opposed to four quads, we have three terms in a year and these are organized obviously by four months each and we offer multiple curriculums. So each curriculum has a different start timing for it. For example, IB starts somewhere around July or August, depending on which country, which campus, and the, the way, if you look at it as a, a day in life of a student is, is basically trying to the students would be basically coming to the schools. And you know, they have these terms and within each terms, they have the monthly units. And then within each monthly units, they have the weekly units. So in a way it would be, you know, the minimum unit would be like a week and during a week, then they would have their plans and academy calendars.

Atul Temurnikar (25:04):

They need to finish up those classes periods. They need to be able to achieve a certain predefined learning outcomes. And then they proceed onto the next week. So it’s almost like a week by week scheduling that goes on, but it takes sure that the students have enough bandwidth and enough kind of know buffer time for them to be able to complete that week’s period and then be able to take off to the next week. So to the students, it is pretty seamless, but actually when the teachers are looking at it, it’s pretty much week by week. And making sure that, you know, you might have some sudden changes and sudden closure of schools because of maybe COVID issues or whatever it is, but then they wanna make sure that, you know, you are completely following the calendar all the way to make sure that you end it on the right times within that month and within those terms.

Atul Temurnikar (25:56):

And, and so there’s a discipline involved to make sure that it works. And also from a student point of view, it’s kind of, I would say a bit more structured in a much more peaceful way so that the students don’t really get P down by too much of workloads. You know, there are different learning spaces that every student has, their speed varies from student to student. So the system allows for everybody to kind of, and we are not a selective school in many of the campuses, or in fact, in all of the campuses, we are not a selective school. So we, we take in students who overcome to us and we make sure that they get the best out of this education and, and they, they can learn incrementally much more than that, what they would’ve learned in any other school in the neighborhood. So that’s one of value prop is to the students and that’s how they experience it.

Sam Demma (26:49):

That’s awesome. It, yeah, it’s, it’s so fascinating and cool to hear about this network of schools, and I hope it continues to expand and ma makes a significant impact, not only in, in Asia, but, you know, con continues the branch into Europe and hopefully in, in north America. It’s yeah, I think it’s really needed. It’s something that’s that that’s making a difference right now. You mentioned one of the schools that will be featured in a little documentary as well. I’m curious to know a little bit more about that.

Atul Temurnikar (27:22):

Yeah. So, you know, we, we operate out of the main headquarters are based out of Singapore and Singapore, as you know, in Asia and in the world, it’s called a smart nation, right? It’s one of those most happening countries in the world you know, great living indexes the best business environments, you know, it’s been tops in many, many areas. And I think one of the things that we think is to really create schools, which are marque schools in terms of the smart aspect of it, and that’s how we created the smart campus. And we took about two years to design it in about three years to construct it. And, and so we completed that in 2018. So the one of the TV channels came to know about this smart campus. And probably they read about it, or they were interested in how smart campuses or some people may call it digital campuses.

Atul Temurnikar (28:23):

But I I’m, I’m referring to smart because use the right amount of technology to deliver the right amount of learning outcomes. And so they picked it up and they reached out to us and they said, well, you have a smart campus in a country called Singapore and your country is known as the smart nation. Would you like to feature your campus on our channel? And we said, yes. Now we had agreed to that pre COVID and fortunately COVID happened. So they let the COVID pass. And then they came back to the post COVID period, and now they will be showing that documentary on the net geo channel, the national geo channel, sometime it would be scheduled from August mid August onwards.

Sam Demma (29:06):

Wow. That’s awesome. It’s that, that’s very exciting when, when you say smart campus and then you use the word digital, is it, is it all a digital experience or do students actually go to this campus?

Atul Temurnikar (29:21):

Yeah. So a simple definition between what a smart is and digital is everything that is smart has to be digital about it. Cool. right now that’s one second thing is why it is smart and not just digital is because it carries a huge amount of analytics mm-hmm <affirmative> and today’s context. You could call it artificial collisions, you could call it you know, data analytics, or we call it simply data analytics, everything that we do, we measure everything that we measure. We know what we are doing, good, what we are doing bad, or what we are doing average. We pick up all the averages and all the things, which we are not doing good, pick it up, feed it back into the system and let everybody improve on it. And that includes student teachers, everybody, including us and me. And that is how we make the system smart.

Atul Temurnikar (30:07):

Every aspect of the functionality of this goal becomes a measurable with performance analytics and to be able to, you know, craft out the necessary strategies to make that whole thing work. So that way it is a smart campus. And when, when this documentary comes out, you will see how every technology has been used in a particular way, whether it is a sports basketball game, right? We use the same technology that NBA Lakers and many of the NBA teams use whether it is soccer. You know, when you are playing games on the court, actually it’s recording the whole game via tokens and via technologies onto computers and servers. And you can play back, replay back the games, and you can see the player performances. Now that is the analytical aspect of the game. And that is extremely important to a child or student, the moment they played a game. So these analytics were not available. If you just play a normal game with the coaches giving you instructions

Atul Temurnikar (31:10):

That would actually mean that the coaches will be, you’ll be relying on the aspect of what the coaches are gonna tell you, but here not only coaches are able to tell you more pinpointed data, but they’re able to tell you, these are your strengths. These are your weaknesses. These are your improvement areas, come and prepare for it. So the next game you can do better than this. So there’s a very clear measurement. So I think not just sports and fine arts in, in academic aspects of the learning everywhere, we use smart technologies and in our technologies really measure everything student wise and make sure that the data we can give it to them is in a performance improvement more. And so therefore every child is more excited to see, okay, tell me, what else can I do teach? Can I, can I do something else different? Tell me where I can improve. So it becomes very, self-driven motivated kind of exercise rather than somebody come and, you know, knocks on your head and says, you know, you’re not good in this. You’re not good in that. And, and probably you’re good for nothing. And then you start this negative aspects of, you know, demotivational theory and, and really that’s not required. So student can see what they need to do. And, and, and these analytical tools are very, very effective in, in making sure it’s a self-motivated improvement.

Sam Demma (32:24):

You’ll have to share the documentary with me when it comes out. I can put a link to it in the featured article that we do on this podcast interview. Cause I, I would love to watch it and I’m sure other educators would as well. If, if someone is listening to this and wants to reach out, ask you a question, connect and have a conversation, what would be the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Atul Temurnikar (32:46):

I think they can get in touch with us on LinkedIn and they can also get in touch with us through our websites or they can email it to me at atul@myglobalschool.org.

Sam Demma (33:00):

Awesome. Atul, thank you so much for taking the time this evening for you to come on the podcast. It means the world to me. The, the work you’re doing is amazing. It’s phenomenal, and I hope it continues to spread. Please keep doing the great work and we’ll talk soon.

Atul Temurnikar (33:16):

Thank you so much. And thanks for having me. It was wonderful talking to you.

Sam Demma (33:21):

Hey, it’s Sam again. I hope you enjoyed that amazing conversation on the High Performing Educator podcast. If you or someone, you know, deserves some extra recognition and appreciation for the work they do in education, please consider applying or nominating them for the high performing educator awards. Go to www.highperformingeducator.com/award. You can also find the link in the show notes. I’m super excited to spotlight and feature 20 people in 2022. And I’m hoping you, or someone you know, can be one of those educators. I’ll talk to you on the next episode, all the best.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Atul Temurnikar

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.

Tracy Lockwood – Owner of PLAY Education Consulting

Tracy Lockwood - Owner of PLAY Education Consulting
About Tracy Lockwood

Tracy Lockwood (@PLAY_Educator) is a certified K-12 PE Teacher and has over 25 years of experience as an educator and has taught K-12 students in Alberta, British Columbia, Abu Dhabi and Macau. She was employed as an Education Consultant for nearly 10 years where she facilitated hundreds of workshops for thousands of professionals at the local, provincial, national and international levels.

Tracy is a Master Trainer for the National Coaching Certification Program & DANCEPL3Y (dance-play). She has her Masters in Educational Leadership and has a passion for all things physical education, physical literacy and physical activity.

Today, Tracy runs a successful business, PLAY Education, and works with thousands of children, youth and adults every year around the world to empower and inspire them to move, laugh, connect, and smile, while learning new ways to be physically active and develop physical literacy. 

Connect with Tracy: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

PLAY Education

Professional Development Workshops – PLAY Education

Resources from PLAY Education

PLAY Education Youtube Channel

National Coaching Certification Program

DANCEPL3Y (dance-play)

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 (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. I’m super excited to bring you today’s interview with our special guest Tracy Lockwood, who is a certified K to 12 PE teacher. She has over 25 years of experience as an educator and has taught K to 12 students in Alberta, British Columbia, Abu Dhabi, and Macau.


Sam Demma (00:57):
She was employed as an educational consultant for nearly 10 years where she facilitated hundreds of workshops for thousands of professionals at the local, provincial, national, and international level. She is a master trainer for the national coaching certification program and dance play. She has her master’s in educational leadership and a passion for all things, physical education, physical literacy, and physical activity. Today, Tracy runs a successful business; play education and works with thousands of children, youth, and adults every year around the world to empower and inspire them to move, laugh, connect, and smile while learning new ways to be physically active and develop physical literacy. She has an awesome website and brand, which she’ll tell you about all throughout the interview. I’m super excited to bring you this. Can’t wait for you to hear what she has in store. So without further ado, let’s jump in to the interview with Tracy. Tracy, welcome to the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here this afternoon, depending on where you’re tuning in from can you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about what got you into education, and then also into the work you’re doing today?


Tracy Lockwood (02:06):
Awesome. Hi everybody. Hi Sam, thanks so much for having me. My name is Tracy Lockwood and some people may have, may know me as the play educator. I have a business called Play Education, but 25 years ago, I actually got into education. And, and really there’s, there’s only a few educators in my family so I, I don’t know the, I guess the reason why I got in, in thinking back is mainly because you know, it was, it was a degree program that allowed me in . And so back, you know 20, actually it was 27 years ago when I was in university, I, I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. And I, I was thinking that I wanted to follow in some footsteps of family members and I, I really, I played a lot of sports, so I thought I wanted to be a physiotherapist or something to do with physical activity.


Tracy Lockwood (03:13):
And, and then in my second year of university I actually played volleyball in my first year. And then in my second year changed schools and got into education. And it was honestly the best thing that, that happened to me in my schooling, because I actually realized, of course I love physical activity. I love physical education. And the fact that I could take physical activity courses that went towards a degree was just amazing to me. I had, I had a great experience in all of my courses and, and that just really helped, helped kind of springboard where I traveled and where I was able to take my EDU education degree. And I, I always say I, I actually teach at the university of Alberta and I always say to my students like this, this degree, this education degree is a passport if you want it to be.


Tracy Lockwood (04:11):
And, and I’m so thankful that I chose that, that career path. And I, I just commend anybody who has chosen that career path. It really turned out to be that I love working with kids. And then in the end, I really love working with adults as well. I just love, I don’t know, helping people. And I thought that I would always do something that was a helping career path and, and this just, just suited me the best. And yeah, I’m grateful that it that’s the way it turned out, got to work with adults as a consultant for many, many years. And of course teach kids for many, many years as well. Nice.


Sam Demma (04:48):
And when you think back to when you were in, you know, college and university and making the career decisions and choices, can you think back to like the finding moments, like you could have chose many different programs or many different options that would still allow you to teach and work with adults and kids? Like why specifically teaching or did you, do you think you fell into this and then realized how much you loved it?


Tracy Lockwood (05:11):
Yeah, I think it, I think it’s, I really fell into it. Based on the fact that when I went to high school, I went to high school to play. Like I was in high school of course, to, to get my diploma, but I really was playing sports. Me too. I, I, yeah. Yeah. And you’re a soccer player. I, I played all sports and did not focus so much on the academics. It was like, yeah, it’s gonna be, I’m gonna be fine. I’m always gonna be fine. And, and I think that hindered my opportunities when I got into university. My first year, I went to a smaller university and, and got to continue to play the sport. I love of volleyball, but then realized that I needed to get my marks up a little bit higher. I needed to actually work a little bit harder.


Tracy Lockwood (06:01):
It was, it was so not a focus. And and just a bit of a struggle. I struggled in certain subjects like math and different sciences. I, I really struggled and I needed that one-on-one attention. But even when I did get that attention, that one- one kind of tutoring in high school, I still struggled. And, and to this day it amazes me that I not only have a degree, not that I’m not smart enough to get a degree. I think I applied myself because I got into education, cuz I was accepted into that program based on my marks after my first year, I kind of brought them up a little bit, but really I am always amazed that I actually have a master’s degree because I always think, wow, I, I don’t, I never liked writing and research makes me wanna have a nap.


Tracy Lockwood (06:54):
so I’m just, I was just thinking, you know, wow, how did, how did I accomplish that? So I, I really believe that, you know, because of getting into education, it kind of, springboarded a lot of loves that I have with physical activity, physical education, specifically got to do my master’s around physical literacy and, and something that I was passionate about. And I think that’s the key now that we’re, we’re just talking that the key is to find that passion. And I think I was able to do that through getting into a program, through them, working through what I love the best, working with kids, working with adults, physical literacy development, all of those things kind of just began to build upon themselves, but they only did that because I have a love for it.


Sam Demma (07:40):
Yeah.


Tracy Lockwood (07:41):
Yeah.


Sam Demma (07:42):
So that’s awesome. Yeah. I’m inspired right now by this rapper it’s American rapper named Russell vitality stage name is Russ and he always talks about this idea that when he was growing up in school, he was terrible. He was a terrible student. He hated school. And if you judged him on his work ethic, based on how much work he put into his studies, you would’ve thought he was a lazy student, but it’s because he just wasn’t doing work that he loved. But the moment you judged him on his work ethic and his ability when it came to music, he was off the charts. And so it sounds like you’re echoing the same ideas when you find the work you love. You know, maybe originally writing was boring and research put you to sleep. But when it was writing, that was related to a topic you loved and research related to physical education, it probably became something that you wanted to pour your heart and soul into. And as a year that has been filled with challenge and burnout, how have you kept your flame going? Cause I know there’s a lot of teachers and educators who are not sure that this is the path they still want to go down because of the challenges they’ve faced.


Tracy Lockwood (08:51):
Yeah. I, it is so true. And so many people have so many stories just about what they’ve gone through in this past while we, our, our pandemic kind of hit a little bit earlier, cuz we were overseas in Southeast Asia. It hit there first. Yeah. And and then we made the choice to, to come back from overseas to come back here. I, I think during this last year and a half or so it’s, it’s kind of reinventing myself. I think that’s what I’ve always done my entire career. If I, after five years, I’m in a school I’m like, okay, I need to reevaluate. If I’m just not feeling that I can contribute as wholeheartedly as I want to. I need to change mm-hmm and I’m, I’m okay with change. I love change and I’m not like a specifically routine kind of person anyways, which so that really suits my personality.


Tracy Lockwood (09:48):
So changing on the fly, changing the way that I do things has had to really come into play this year. So move to virtual, just like most schools, my business was not going to thrive if I wasn’t able to get into schools in person. So did a ton of virtual activities ton of virtual programs and lots of professional development teachers just putting myself out there. It was not easy because this way of learning and this way of, of speaking with somebody and seeing yourself on the screen all the time is so not comfortable. And it definitely was uncomfortable at the beginning. Just like I know a lot of teachers went through some major uncomfortableness with with dealing with how do you get your kids engaged even? And even just to get them turn on their videos. Yeah. I think the more that you do something, the more that you get comfortable with it and that’s exactly what happened.


Tracy Lockwood (10:48):
And just, just knowing that I was helping teachers, I was helping educators with professional development and, and really I have, I had the time they were, they had to jump right in. I had the time to maybe to look at the research, look what was going on out there, just seeing what the best practices were and then to implement them and then to share them with my network that I have mostly in in, in Canada. And so that, you know, that was really key. I, I think just knowing that I could help somebody and, and then of course the, the feedback that you get back from others, whether you’re a teacher, you get those, that feedback from kids, it can help you just continue to, to want to, to do more. And I think that’s what I was getting back from others. Like thank you for this, wow.


Tracy Lockwood (11:42):
This resource, this is, this is great to see. Really in this time I, I just need something practical and that’s, I guess that’s what I’m all about is that, that practical piece, I just wanna give teachers tools. And then also like seeing students online I have had a couple of university classes, like I mentioned, elementary ed classes and I was teaching a physical education, health and pedagogy class. And so it’s all about movement and so uncomfortable as uncomfortable as it is. I, you know, invited them to turn on their cameras as part of participation, not as part of how you, you know, how much you’re going to develop your skill, but just how are you trying? And so I, I think that that really helped just inviting them to turn on their, their cameras. And I really had some great experiences and some amazing students in my classes that, that were so thankful for the course, even though we couldn’t be in person, which would’ve been way better. I guess I, I really get external feedback that external feedback helps me want to do more. Yes. Yeah, that’s, that’s a big part of it.


Sam Demma (12:58):
Yeah. You and I share that I actually have a binder that I’ve filled with a bunch of emails and messages that I’ve received from students after work and presentations. And I I’ll read it to myself before key moments because I find that it’s us stopping us. And most of the time it’s our own like self-belief or self doubt, even when we’ve done great job, a great job. And we know we’re making an impact sometimes just rereading those things and reminding yourself of the impact can have a huge effect. Now I know as a teacher though, specifically, sometimes the impact isn’t heard or seen for like 10 years and there’s these awesome stories where 15 years later, a student sent an email and is like, oh my goodness, miss Lockwood, you know, your class changed my life and your physical education training changed my life. Can you think about, can you think back to any of those specific stories or moments that stick out in your mind from teaching both in, in the classroom and now with your own business?


Tracy Lockwood (14:00):
Oh, that’s such a good question. You know my, my friend Shannon always says that I, I feel the same way that she retains water, not information. So I feel like , I’m kind of the same nice where I I have a hard time thinking about like what happened way in the past, but, you know, there are definitely students that have come forward in just, just recently that have come forward in my university classes just to be, you know, most recent. Yeah. that have said, you know, this is the best course in my degree. And that just is like, Ugh, that makes me feel so, so great. And, and I ha I do have students that because I taught both of my boys physical education when they’re in elementary. Nice. I see the, the kids that they have grown up with that are now adults.


Tracy Lockwood (14:55):
Nice. I see them, you know, and I hear from them based on the fact that they still hang out with my two sons and, and I do hear really great things that that they didn’t always say in elementary, you know, you get the hugs, you get the high fives. Yeah. once in a while you get cards from, from parents that are just saying how thankful they are. But it, it is, it, it is something that you wonder, you know, it, you have to have that self confidence because I always wonder, you know, is that true? But then I have to remind myself, you know, they wouldn’t be saying it if it’s not. And, and then it is hard to, to focus on that. If you get one negative comment, you know as teachers, I still think about, you know, 20 years ago, 25 years ago, when I first started teaching, I still think about the parent that was not happy with their child’s mark in physical education.


Tracy Lockwood (16:01):
And, and that just sticks out. And it, I think that’s just us as human. We’re always trying to get better. And we, we do take in that negative element. Sometimes it’s very hard to break through that negative thought pattern. Yeah. But it just takes practice. And truly, I I’ve been learning that and I still am at my age, I’m still learning to, to, to be positive. There’s a program that I get to be a part of and I hope it’s okay if I bring it up, it’s called dance. Okay, good. It’s called dance play. And to be honest, the, the positive element that just wraps around that program just it’s really all about three rules, be positive, be fun and be yourself. And whenever I teach it, it’s a reminder to myself. So when I say to kids, you know, it’s really easy to be negative.


Tracy Lockwood (17:00):
It’s really easy to, you know, put yourself down. It takes practice to be positive. So when you’re dancing or when you’re doing something, you know, that challenges you you have to say, you know, I got this, I can do this. I am awesome. I look great. It’s a constant reminder. And, and I think every time I teach that program, it has actually built up my confidence level. Because I remind kids all the time. It’s like, oh yeah, remind myself. Yeah. Or, or when I look, you know, I tell kids to look themselves in the mirror when they’re brushing their teeth, hopefully in the morning. And again, at night they say, you know, you are awesome. You’re a great friend. You’re a great you know, sister or whatever brother you’re, you are you know, really great at math or you really kind, whatever it is, you have to remind yourself. So a as I’m telling them, it’s, it’s just a great confidence booster for myself, just to say, yeah, if I’m telling kids to do this, I also need to do this and model it. Yeah. And I think as teachers, we’re always thinking about how we can model and, and those make the best teachers. And I think that’s why a lot of people go into education is because they want to model you know, what they wanna see in the world.


Sam Demma (18:22):
Yeah. Be an


Tracy Lockwood (18:22):
Example and yeah. Be an example, make a difference. So so I think that, yeah, education is, it is a calling, but it’s also a choice. And yeah. And I, I commend people for making that choice because it does take a lot of work and a lot of effort to be a teacher. Yes. Especially now we’ve seen, what’s been happening over the last year and a half with having to switch completely how you teach, but, but you know, it, it, people have gotten through it. And there’s so many ups and downs in that, in the profession as it is. Yeah. But we are super resilient and we teach kids to be resilient and following our own example is going to be, you know, the best for, for everyone.


Sam Demma (19:12):
And at what point in your own journey, did you start getting this inkling of entrepreneurship and decide to start your own thing? And, you know, you mentioned dance play very briefly, just, just in case anyone’s listening to this right now, or you can’t see the screen and you obviously didn’t see what happened before we started recording, but the call started with Tracy playing music and dancing . So just so you know, she is the perfect person to teach this curriculum. But tell us a little bit about, you know, your own company and, and dance play and how they tie together and where that came from.


Tracy Lockwood (19:50):
Yeah. I, I really, I think I have great role models. My, my parents are entrepreneurs. So when I was 11, my parents started a restaurant business and they kept that same restaurant for 30 years. Oh, wow. So I grew up with, with my parents working so hard being entrepreneurs, but then, you know really doing it for themselves. And I think that’s where I, I didn’t realize, but that’s where it kind of started. And when I was teacher for about 15 years, I ended up getting a position as a consultant and worked provincially in the province of Alberta and then elsewhere kind of delivering professional development to teachers creating programs working on curriculum and tying curriculum with health and physical education into all of our professional development. And so just doing that was, it was sort of like I was running my own business, but not quite, you know, being salary employed.


Tracy Lockwood (20:57):
And about seven years ago, dance play came into my life. We were hosting a conference and we needed something kind of fun and different, and we didn’t have anything dance related. So at our conference, we, I, I was just looking online and just found this dance play thing and thought, wow, this is amazing. And so the person who owns dance play Melanie, she said, why don’t you come to a, to an instructor training, had no idea what I was getting myself into. I really am not a dancer. I love music. I love moving to music, but I have never taken any formal dance training. So so when I was taking that, I, I thought this is gonna be super overwhelming. It was the best time of my life. I loved it so, so much. Awesome. And realized that, you know, maybe because I had been thinking about running my own business, I had been thinking about going on my own and consulting, just that idea of having my own hours working from home, just having control.


Tracy Lockwood (22:03):
Maybe I’m a bit of control freak. I don’t know , but I, I do love the idea of structuring my own day. And as hard as I work, that’s how hard my bus that’s, how much my business is going to grow. So, yeah, so I just decided when dance play came into my life, that this was the next thing, this was the additional thing that I needed in order to supplement my play education business. So started started that, you know, about seven years ago and became a region operator. So I can operate in schools and, and then started hiring some instructors and, and really did a lot of it on my own for a few years, and just poured myself into the business and not only dance play, but play education and still delivered professional development, but really wanted to focus on physical education, physical literacy, physical activity.


Tracy Lockwood (22:58):
And that gave me the ability to do that. I, I really feel like specializing is, is important because you become much better in that area. Mm. And and in my other consulting role, I learned so much, I learned so much about research and about government contracts and about school programming and, and just curriculum. And, and really, I wanted to just focus on physical education, physical literacy, and physical activity. And that gave me leaving that job scary as it was, cuz it was a salary job. I, I had a, I’ve had a salary. I had a salary up to that point for 21 years. Wow. And I wouldn’t have been able to leave if I, my husband was an administrator and principal at the time. So I could lean on him and his salary in order to do that. Cuz man, it was tough.


Tracy Lockwood (23:55):
At first I had zero income for at least the first five months and, and then just started growing and building my network. I, I had a, a fairly large network to begin with. So I, I really had to look at all the people that I have been working with for over the years. And that was, that was key, you know, leaning on those people as much as I felt like, ah, I don’t wanna be a leach. That’s the last thing I wanna be. But I also felt that, you know, I’ve, I’ve really built up great relationships with a lot of consultants and a lot of people around the province of Alberta anyways. So I felt comfortable that I could reach out to them. Yes. And, and a lot of them just really accepted the fact that I could bring maybe something different to the table and these practical tools and, and just started going from there.


Sam Demma (24:49):
That’s so awesome. And what is play like, tell us more about play education. Yeah. Why is, why is that the name of the company and what does it do?


Tracy Lockwood (25:00):
Good question. Good questions. Play education stands for physical literacy and you, mm. And originally I had a different name. I think it was energized consulting and I had all of these different names and it was, it wasn’t easy to come up with that. It seems easy now, but in, in hindsight, I, I remember having a journal. I still have a journal beside my bed cuz I wake up in the middle of the night and I have to write scribble messes down. I just have to write. So I don’t forget. nice. So I wrote down like why, what are the things that I wanna do? So, you know, practical, educational, physical activity, all of those things. And, and then it just turns out I was like physical literacy. You know, I did my master’s in that. I really believe in the fact that we have to give kids a foundation in order to build their skills for them to be confident and comfortable and competent and motivated to be active for life.


Tracy Lockwood (26:03):
So that kind of was, was the springboard physical literacy and you stands for play and it couldn’t just be play. So I’m an educator. So education came into play there, so play education and it turns out nobody else had that name. so nice that that I could see. So it worked out great and, and I could get the website, play education.ca that worked out great. And I really just focus on, on professional development for teachers in those three areas of PHS ed, physical activity and physical literacy. Nice. I focus on dance, play programming. And about how many years ago, I would say two years, three years ago, three years ago now I created a resource called focus on fundamentals and it’s supporting the development of physical literacy. And I really wanted something to be a lesson plan guide that had like warmup activities, main skill development activities, and cool down activities.


Tracy Lockwood (27:11):
So developed this after 10 years of thinking about it, it was a scribble mess at the beginning and it took me about 10 years to finally, you know, develop this resource. But it was a lot of work, but it, it really ties in nicely of what I like to do for people. And that is provide tools and practical ideas that can be used like right away. And, and I think, you know, every things have evolved of course to where I am now, but but that’s, I’m just so happy how things worked out, you know, just taking that risk, which I was, was a huge risk when I think about it now. But I, I said to my husband at the time when I was doing, going to do this, I said to him, it’s now or never. Yeah. You know? And, and so having that entrepreneurial spirit, I always kind of have, I, I, like I said, I believe it was from passed down for my parents. Yeah. I just really wanted to jump in with both feet. So it’s left my position.


Sam Demma (28:19):
That’s awesome. I love the story. I absolutely love it. I, I too grew up in a family that owned a restaurant. Funny enough, my mom and my grandfather owned an Italian Italian slash Greek food restaurant called Joey Bravos. and wow. I


Tracy Lockwood (28:34):
Love the


Sam Demma (28:34):
Name well, yeah. And it was apparently there was a TV show back in the day called Johnny Bravos as well. And so they kind of got inspiration from that, but named to Joey’s and it’s funny growing up there, I would always go in and I would walk into the kitchen. And the first thing I would ask for is one of the chefs’ name was Rav I’d say, Hey Ravi, can I please have the standard plate? And he would bring me at a little plate with cheese, olives, and sausage and I would go and sit in the back and eat them. And I remember going to my doctor’s appointment one time and my pediatrician, Dr. MOS saying, Sam, you gotta stop eating sausages. I had like, I was gaining weight anyways, I totally going off track here. But I, yeah, I so relate to the entrepreneurial spirit of parents, which is so awesome.


Sam Demma (29:19):
And really when we think about it, people that influence us could be anybody, not even just our parents, like as a teacher, you play that same role in your student’s lives as a parent does because you see them for so many hours per day, even when you think no one’s watching, someone could be watching and the actions you’re taking could influence them. For example, you following your dream and passion of starting the business and going down this path might even inspire other educators to believe that they could follow their own dreams and passions outside of the classroom as well. And I just think it’s a really cool story to share. And I’m glad that we carved out some time to share it. If you could go back in time. I think you said 25 years ago, is that when you first started teaching?


Tracy Lockwood (29:59):
Yes. About that 27?


Sam Demma (30:01):
Yeah. Okay. So if you could go SA shaving off two years there, I see you . So if you could, you know, snap your fingers travel back in time 27 years ago and basically give your younger self advice, knowing what you know now, and based on the experiences you’ve had, what advice would you give your younger self?


Tracy Lockwood (30:22):
Wow. I think just trust in the journey, you know, trust that things are gonna work out as planned. I really am an optimistic person. Yeah. But, but there are definite times that I’m like, oh, should I do this? You know, this is a really tough decision or worry about things. And I really believe that I, I, yeah, I, I would’ve told myself to trust and, and the fact that I actually didn’t do a lot of traveling until 45 years old. So my husband and I both, we, we didn’t go overseas until our sons were in grade eight and grade 12. Oh, wow. And so that the idea of like, thinking back when I first started teaching and thinking to overseas travel and teaching in a Canadian international school in Abu Dhabi and then in Macau, like I never imagined, never dreamed that that would happen thinking that I would have my own business, never imagined that that would be where my career would lead me, but I, I truly believe that having an education degree has just really opened a lot of doors has just like, kind of led me into these like different paths and, and, and the fact that I’ve connected with so many awesome people.


Tracy Lockwood (31:52):
My, my network of friends, my network of professional colleagues has, has just been more than I could imagine, but, but, you know, I think it’s based on you, who you attract in your life. And I am open to attracting positive people you know, people who, who want to be better that are constantly learning. I, I just, I feel that because I am like that, I feel like I attract those kind of people in my life and I that’s who I want my life. And, and, and I still have so many, so many friends that that are that way too. And yeah, I, I, I think that word trust is important. I I’m, and, and just kind of ride the ride the wave of life, I think just as it comes. And there’s definitely ups and downs along the way. for sure.


Tracy Lockwood (32:52):
Some stresses especially with living overseas and having to start your light life over. And, and then starting back, back in Canada a year ago earlier than we thought we would come back from the cow. We we had to start our life over in a different province where we chose to start our life over in a different province. I’m trying to network here now, still doing a lot of work back with my network in Alberta. But man, it’s it’s tough to, to build a network, but it’s starting. Yeah. And it’s like little by little, just put yourself out there. And, and maybe that’s the other thing I would’ve told myself, like put yourself out there, girl. , it’s all gonna be good.


Sam Demma (33:34):
I love that. We, we need to set up a part 2 to talk about the, the worldwide experiences, because that’s a whole other conversation The longer we talk, the more questions I ask, the more questions I have for you, but thank you so much for taking some time to, you know, share your intentional journey on the podcast. I noticed at the end, you just corrected yourself. We said, we, we chose to start again in a different province. And that’s so important because you’re taking the responsibility, and it seems like your whole journey has been very intentional. You know, now is the time, time is now I’m doing this. And yeah, I think that’s like a phrase that kind of comes to mind when I think about everything you’ve shared in the past 30 minutes, it’s already been 35 minutes; time flies. That was a good conversation. If someone wants to reach out an educator or principal superintendent’s listening and they just wanna, you know, shoot you an email and have a conversation, what would be the best way for them to get in touch?


Tracy Lockwood (34:31):
They can definitely go to my website. It’s playeducation.ca and tracy.playeducator@gmail.com.


Sam Demma (34:41):
Love it, love it. Tracy, Thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your summer. This will come out in September, so that’ll sound funny, but enjoy the rest of your summer and let’s stay in touch and I’ll, I’ll talk to you soon.


Tracy Lockwood (34:52):
Thank you so much, Sam. I really appreciate it. Love talking with you.


Sam Demma (34:55):
And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review so other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show; if you want meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Tracy Lockwood

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.

Kelly Karius – Founder of No Such Thing As A Bully

Kelly Karius - Founder of No Such Thing As A Bully
About Kelly Karius

Kelly Karius (@KellyKarius) is an award winning Social Worker, Mediator and Author who is committed to her mission of improving the lives she is able to affect.

Her books include “This is Out of Control! A Practical Guide to Managing Life’s Conflicts”, “The Brief Book of Bullying”, “Burgerslinger”, and “No Such Thing as a Bully; Shred the Label, Save a Child.

Kelly is well versed in First Nations issues in Canada, and is working with elders at Maskwacis, Alberta, to create a Grandfather’s Lessons version of The No Such Thing as a Bully System.

Kelly is also a founder of The Moment of Kindness Foundation, a non-profit foundation, which uses numbered cards and a data base system to promote a program of random acts of kindness meets technology. Kelly drives around in the #kindnesscar a bright green car that people sign with a sharpie marker to pledge kindness.

Connect with Kelly: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

No Such Thing as a Bully System

The Moment of Kindness Foundation

No Such Thing as a Bully; Shred the Label, Save a Child

Burgerslinger

University of Regina – Bachelor of Social Work

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 (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today’s guest was recommended by another past guest, and if you are listening to this and there’s someone in your mind, maybe it’s you or someone you know that you think should come on this show, please reach out to me because I will reach out to that person.


Sam Demma (00:53):
Even if it’s you or someone you know, and interview them. I would love for you to reach out to me and let me know who you’d like to hear on this podcast. You can shoot me an email@samsamdemma.com. That is the reason today’s guest is on the show. Her name is Kelly Karius. She’s an award-winning social worker, mediator and author, who is committed to her mission of improving the lives she’s able to affect. Her books include “This is Out of Control! A Practical Guide to Managing Life’s Conflicts”, “The Brief Book of Bullying”, “Burgerslinger”, and “No Such Thing as a Bully; Shred the Label, Save a Child.”. Kelly is well versed in first nations issues in Canada and is working with elders at Maskwacis, Alberta, and I’m sorry if I mispronounced this, to create a grandfather’s lessons version of the no such thing as a bully system.


Sam Demma (01:38):
She’s also the founder of The Moment of Kindness Foundation, a nonprofit which uses numbered cards and a database system to promote a program of random act of kindness meets technology. Kelly drives around in the kindness car; a bright green car that people sign with a Sharpie marker to pledge kindness. I know you’re gonna enjoy this interview. We talk a lot about bullying. You know, what’s, what bullying really is and how to address it in a school. You know, Kelly is a wealth of knowledge on this topic, and I know you’ll enjoy this as much as I enjoyed learning about it myself. I’ll see you on the other side of the interview, talk soon. Kelly, welcome to the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and, you know, sharing a little bit behind what brought you to where you are today working in education?


Kelly Karius (02:24):
Well, first of all, I’m so glad that you’re having me on your show. So thank you so much for that. My name is Kelly Karius. I’m a social worker from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, and I, I started with No Such Thing As a Bully imagine about 20 years ago. Really recognizing that the way that we are currently dealing with bullying and have been dealing with bullying is not really effective and, and looking at a little, you know, six/seven year old and saying, “hey kid, you’re a bully “creates a box for them that, that they may never actually get out of. And, and so I, I had some really extreme experiences that got me looking at this and, and, and created No Such Thing As a Bully so that we could say we all use bully actions. We all use victim responses, one set of skills solves both, and the labels don’t help and, and really create a whole different format for us to start looking at this.


Sam Demma (03:31):
Can you share a little bit of insight into those experiences you had? And if there’re very extreme ones, you can change their names so that you’re not really, you know, sharing that information, but what are those experiences that led you to create this?


Kelly Karius (03:44):
Yeah, so I was bullied myself kindergarten to grade six, and then when I, when I came back in grade seven to a, to a different school, to a junior high, I I came wearing a Jean jacket with a pack of smokes and my fists clenched and beat up a boy in the boy’s bathroom. Whose name I won’t mention and and, you know, looking back on that, that kind of really displayed how that pendulum swings. Yep. So, you know, grade seven, I would be called a bully, but why? And then as I started my private practice, I, I was just a, a year into my private practice, just with a bachelor’s degree which was a bit of a jump. And, and I was hired as an advocate for 20 sets of parents whose teacher was mistreating the, their Stu the students class.


Kelly Karius (04:41):
And I, I mean, I’m sure when I look back on it, that I did a, a pile of things wrong. But you know, we went through the whole system, the school board, the, the ministry of education children’s advocate, the ombudsman nothing happened. And then at the end of that year, the teacher just moved on to a different school. And then in the summer I had a, a client teen client diagnosed with PTSD from bullying and a letter from a chief psychiatrist saying the bullying in this community is outrageous. Someone has to do something. So I put in a, this was about 20 years ago, 2001, I put in the proposal to do peer mediation. That was kind of all I knew at the time, but I didn’t realize how much I, I made people angry the year before and before I knew it, there was an article in the paper saying that I was being investigated by my ethics committee, that I was banned from all the schools in Melville that I wasn’t qualified to do the work that I was doing.


Kelly Karius (05:41):
And so I spent the next year fighting that. And at the end of it, I, I ended up suing the director of education and, and settling that out of court and then started looking at holy cow, why would we expect our kids not to bully when this is what’s going on with adults? Mm. And again, I’m not saying that my behavior was, was perfect in the situation in any way either. But just that every human being depending on what’s happening for them has the potential to use bully actions and has the, the potential to use victim responses to say, oh, this is a terrible situation. And I can’t do anything about it. Mm-Hmm . And so that, that is the experience that really got me looking at this and, and saying, we need a whole different system. We need a whole different way of, of, of doing this.


Sam Demma (06:38):
And what do you mean when you say one skillset solves both? And can you explain both the bully actions and victim results and how people tend to use them?


Kelly Karius (06:47):
Yeah, absolutely. So bully actions, if you picture if you picture one person in the middle of a circle of 10 people, and each of those 10 people saying one negative thing to that person in the middle we have on the outside of that circle, 10 people that each used one bully action. They’re not gonna say that they’re a bully. They, I just said, this one thing, I’m not a bully. That’s not who I am, but yet there’s a person in the middle who’s bullied.


Sam Demma (07:20):
Mm.


Kelly Karius (07:21):
And, and so those, you know, once we each start paying attention to those smaller bully actions that we use, that’s when we can really get a grip on this. And then victim responses is that person in the middle saying, there’s nothing I can do. There’s nothing I can learn. That’s gonna make this better. There’s nothing I can do to get out of this situation. This is, this is a problem of other people. I don’t have to do anything. You know, and, and sort of living in that space that says, I, I, I can’t do anything. And so the set of skills, whether it’s somebody using bully actions or somebody using a victim response, the set of skills are strengthening. Being able to look at those automatic thoughts that pop into your mind and go, you know what, what’s true about this. What’s not true about this. What’s another way of thinking about it. Mm. Being able to set and have goals and to feel good within ourselves, we don’t use bully actions when we’re feeling real good. Yeah. Ourselves. and that is the strengthening. And we are also not, not feeling that victim response when we are feeling really good within ourselves.


Sam Demma (08:38):
Yeah. It’s so true. That’s awesome. It’s funny. I’m writing a spoken word album right now. I’m one of the poems is called empty backpack. And the premise is that people’s words, don’t define your route. You bet on you since day one, you define yourself, it’s time you grab your backpack and empty it out and stop carrying the opinions of everyone else. And it really relates to some of the ideas you’re sharing right now. And I’m actually writing a chapter about it as well. And I was trying to break down why I thought people push their limiting beliefs on you, or would, you know, share or spew negativity at you. And the ideas that came to mind were things that you’re saying, things like low self-confidence superiority complexes or, you know, trauma that they’re personally going through. You know, when you don’t feel good about yourself, you hurt people. And that’s such an interesting thing. So what does the program or curriculum look like? So if, you know, if I was interested in learning more about no such thing as a bully, how could I do that? And if I wanted to engage with you, if I was a school and I wanted to engage with you, what would that look like?


Kelly Karius (09:42):
All right. So the actual curriculum has 25 lessons, things like fight or flight response friendship skills, how to know if you have a good friend, how to be a good friend things like inaccurate thoughts and balancing balancing inaccurate thoughts, and getting a, a grip on automatic thinking. There’s goal setting in there. There is emotions and being able to name how you’re feeling there is looking at the difference between just conflict and bullying and then assault. Because sometimes we call too many things bullying that really are not to engage I’ve got on the website, no such thing as a bully.com for $47 programs that people can grab and just see if it’s for them. And, and the programs are all five lessons to your inbox and then a zoom meeting each week fully proof your home fully that one’s for parents, fully proof your, your classroom that one is for teachers and bully proof, your school for administrators.


Kelly Karius (10:52):
Hmm. When a school wants to get involved, we offer to train five of their staff members and certify them in teaching this material. And it’s, it’s five, not one because the load is too heavy to carry for one. So over a two year period we, we have a school membership. We keep five people in your school trained for two years, if somebody leaves and you wanna put somebody else in under that same contract, you absolutely can. And then we do some meetings with with administrators as well. There’s a whole different policy for schools to use if they, if they join with no such thing as a bully and actually a whole different definition of bullying for schools to use as well. One that has nine points. And you, you have to mindfully look at the situation and see how things fit into those nine points. And that will help you determine is this bullying, is this just everyday conflict? Or is this something even more serious than, than bullying? And, and so it’s really a, a mindful way to look at it. If somebody just says, I want this, and I don’t need those $47 programs to see if, if it’s what we need. Then I would say, just give me an email Kelly, no such thing as a bully.com or a phone call, (403) 447-4404.


Sam Demma (12:22):
I love that. And you mentioned earlier as well, and something that peaked my curiosity, you mentioned that labeling a student as a bully could place him in the box that they never escape. Can you tell me more about that? What did, what did you mean when you, when you said that?


Kelly Karius (12:37):
Yeah. You know what I have, and I have an amazing story that goes with that. And, and this was like the moment that this was right in my face and I went, whoa. So I had started going school to school with no such thing as a bully. And, and often when I enter a classroom, the first question I ask is who in here is a bully. And usually there’ll be some Snickers, you know, maybe one person might put up their hand or, or often they’ll point at somebody else. And and, and then what what’s supposed to happen in my little mind script is then I say, okay, well, who has ever kicked somebody hit, somebody left somebody out on purpose called somebody a name, all these smaller bully actions. And then of course the hound go up and up because we’ve all done that in this case, this was a grade two classroom.


Kelly Karius (13:31):
And so that, so the kids are, you know, seven years old. In this case I asked that question, who in here is a bully and this boy put his hand up, hi, hi. And I said, well, you know what, I bet you have used some bully action, but I don’t think that you’re a bully. And he stands up out of his desk and he said, very firmly, I am a bully. And I was like, Hmm. Okay. And then later on that evening, I was in, so I would, at that time, I was in schools for five days. And so I was just kind of in this little community, I’m in the grocery store, getting, getting some things for supper. And, and I see a little girl in her mom and this little girl is pulling her mom’s hand and saying, mom, mom, look, it’s the bully lady, lady. And, and the mom turns around and she just like, so aggressively says, I’m so glad you’re here because there’s a kid in this school. That’s such a big bully that my kid doesn’t even wanna go to school. And I thought to myself, I bet that that’s that little bully. Mm.


Kelly Karius (14:38):
And then that really got me thinking about the power that he took. First of all, how many times has he been called that? And then, and then now a kid goes, well, that’s who I am. I know, I know because all these growns told me, so that’s who I am. And now I’m gonna hold on tight to that. And all of the qualities that it involves, because clearly I am very, very strong because look at how all of these adults are responding to me.


Sam Demma (15:10):
Mm.


Kelly Karius (15:11):
Now, if we put that kid in a school and we just say, no, there’s no such thing as a bully. You’re you are, you are a little boy that learned how to use bully actions to get what you want, and we’re gonna teach you some other ways.


Sam Demma (15:26):
Mm.


Kelly Karius (15:27):
All the power of that label is gone for, for that little one. And he is put in a position where, okay, I guess I’m, you know, I guess I’m gonna learn these, these other things. And, and so you, you know, you, not only in those small ages, it’s easy to see in those small ages because they’re just little ones, right? Mm. But now that kid grows up to be 12, 13, 14, 15, and is still an adult and is still taking his power from using those bully actions. This is how I get what I want.


Sam Demma (16:03):
Mm.


Kelly Karius (16:03):
This is one way to eliminate that.


Sam Demma (16:06):
And you, you know, you did mention the difference between bully actions and a bully. And I know it’s a part of the package, so we won’t get into it too deep, but what are some of the nine principles or points that a school could use to identify if this is a bully action, or if this is the characteristics of a full blown full blown bully.


Kelly Karius (16:24):
so here’s what I say is that there’s no such thing as a bully. Yeah. But there is bullying.


Sam Demma (16:30):
Mm.


Kelly Karius (16:31):
And so when a school is, is using this definition to look at that, or a parent what they’re looking at is, is what are the qualities in this situation? Mm. And is this something that we need to call bullying? So we’re still never actually saying the kid visibly.


Sam Demma (16:49):
Got it. Yeah.


Kelly Karius (16:51):
So, okay. So here’s how it works. In order for bullying to exist, there needs to be someone with a high bullying value frame of reference. So this is somebody who has the desire to hurt who has the, the takes superior power and enjoyment from what they’re doing. And they have a desire for control and contempt for the other person. So we’re looking at the qualities in the situation, do those exist. Mm. There needs to be an action that is hurtful, and that is repeated. And then there needs to be someone with a high victim response frame of reference. So this is somebody who feels vulnerable, who feels a sense of oppression, who feels unjust treatment. So what this lets us do is change any of those dynamics to change those, the situations. So if we look at the high victim response frame of reference, and we take that person, and we say, you know what, let’s work on some stuff. So you’re not feeling vulnerable. So you’re not feeling oppressed so that if this happens again, you can just walk away and not take any of it home with you.


Sam Demma (17:59):
Mm.


Kelly Karius (18:01):
Now we’re solving bullying by changing that dynamic. Or we work with the, the, the person who has the high bullying frame of re and, and we start working on, you know, why, why do you feel like you need to have this control? Tell me about how you’re contempt for other people, you know, let’s work at changing that. And, and so it gives, it gives a whole bunch of options or solutions when you break it down like this, and the way you define a problem leads to how you’re gonna resolve it. Mm. So we can define problems in ways that we, that really don’t have good resolutions and, and this, and that’s what we’ve done with bullying in the past. And this reverses that


Sam Demma (18:48):
Got it. And, you know, you mentioned that it happens not only with students, but also adults mm-hmm is this a program that you would engage with or potentially consider engaging with in workplaces in the future?


Kelly Karius (19:04):
Absolutely. In my private practice, I did a ton of corporate conflict management work with my first book that came out in 2006 called this is outta control of practical guide to managing life’s conflicts. And, and a lot of those things have made their way over into no such thing as a bully. This is stuff for everyone. And, and even when I’m teaching it my goal is to teach it to adults so that they can teach it to their important kids, to, to have somebody that kids don’t know, come in and stand on a stage and, you know give some tips that is important. And that reaches a certain number of kids in that audience. And I wanna make sure that, you know, when those kids go home, that their parents have that same material and those same ideas to be, to be working with. And so with this, with this system, there is of course the material for schools, but there’s also a book and a membership for parents. You know, so that a school can coordinate, this is what we’re doing at school. This is what we’re doing at home.


Sam Demma (20:19):
And where is Kelly in five years? And what does this program look like then?


Kelly Karius (20:24):
Oh, I’m so excited. So I’m, so I’m starting work on a project. That my goal is to get myself into a bright green motor home that people sign with a Sharpie marker to pledge kindness. Nice. Right, right now I have a kindness car, but it’s a little Honda civic. So I wanna go big and I wanna hit the road with no such thing as a bully and just you know, kind of be going school to school, community, to community and letting people know these ideas and, and what is available. And, and also with the goal of like directing people to other resources, you know, your valuable podcast and other other people that I know that are offering amazing things. Yeah, there’s so much out there and, and the more people know and can educate themselves about communication strategies and emotion strategies, the better off the world’s gonna be.


Sam Demma (21:26):
Love it. And if you could go back in time, I think you said 25 years, you’ve been doing this or 20 years. If you could go back to year one, knowing what, you know now and give your younger self advice, what would you share?


Kelly Karius (21:40):
Oh my goodness. You know what, some, sometimes it’s really good that you don’t know. Mm. Because you know, now I would say, just keep on going and, and, and go through that terrible situation few years after. And I might have said just avoid that whole thing, you know, don’t even take that job. That’s crazy. I think that, that the difference, the difference now in how I would handle it would just straight up be maturity. Mm. You know, understanding human reactions and responses better. Probably not getting, so I can remember times during that, that two year period where my anxiety was just so high anticipating things that never happened, you know? And, and so that would be some of my advice, like just live in the moment and don’t, even though a situation seems like it may be negative. The outcome of that might not be. Mm. And, and so to reserve that judgment and, and be able to just be like, okay, I’m gonna live in this moment and see what happens next. Yeah. That would be good. That would definitely be good advice for me at that time.


Sam Demma (23:00):
And you mentioned at the beginning of the podcast as well, some places where people could find you, but if someone is listening to this and they love the ideas and the content you’re sharing, what would be the easiest way for them to get in touch?


Kelly Karius (23:10):
So hit up the website, if you wanna know more; nosuchthingasabully.com. Kelly@nosuchthingasabully.com to email me, or just gimme an old fashioned phone call (403) 447-4404.


Sam Demma (23:26):
Love that. Kelly, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was so cool hearing this unique perspective on bullying. I can’t wait to see you on the road in your green motor home and hopefully be able to sign it and pledge some kindness to it, but until then keep up the awesome work. And we’ll talk soon.


Kelly Karius (23:40):
Thank you. And thank you for the work that you’re doing with youth. And I appreciate everything you do, Sam.


Sam Demma (23:46):
Thanks, Kelly. And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review so other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show; if you want meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode. to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Kelly Karius

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.

Joyce Sunada – Wellness Speaker, Coach and Facilitator

Joyce Sunada – Wellness Speaker, Coach and Facilitator
About Joyce Sunada

Joyce Sunada (@JoyceSunada) has over 30 years of experience as an educator. During that time she was a teacher, an administrator and provincial leader who helped create and support healthy school communities. 

During the pandemic, Joyce stepped away from presenting workshops for a few months to identify what was truly important to her. This allowed her to establish the Joyful Collective, a collaborative group of women who work together to positively impact the wellness of educators through virtual workshops. And this time away also provided an opportunity to create sustainable lifestyle practices so she can better walk her talk and support others.  

If Joyce could give educators only one piece of advice she’d say, “Take time for your wellness, so you won’t be forced to take time for your illness.”  

Connect with Joyce: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Joyful Endeavours

Joyful Collective

Joyful Reflections Blog

Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS)

Lethbridge College – Broadcast Programming and Production

Mount Royal University – Integrative Health Coach Extension Certificate

University of Lethbridge – Bachelors of Education

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 (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. I’m super excited about today’s interview. I am having a conversation with my good friend, Joyce Sunada. Joyce has over 30 years of experience as an educator and during that time she was a teacher, an administrator, and provincial leader who helped create and support healthy school communities.


Sam Demma (01:00):
During the pandemic, Joyce stepped away from presenting workshops for a few months to identify what was truly important to her. This allowed her to establish the joyful collective; a collaborative group of women who work together to positively impact the wellness of educators through virtual workshops. And this time away has provided an opportunity to create sustainable lifestyle practices so she can better walk and she can better walk her talk and support others. If Joyce could give educators one piece of advice, she would say take time for your wellness so you won’t be forced to take time for your illness. Professional bio aside, Joyce is a wonderful human being. She happens to be a colleague of mine at the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and that’s how we crossed paths. And I’m so grateful we had a chance to chat. So here’s the interview with Joyce, I will see you on the other side. Joyce, welcome to the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show. We’ve crossed paths many times, although you know, just recently at CAPS Calgary’s event we made a more deeper connection and I’m so glad we did. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit behind why you’re so passionate about the work you do today?


Joyce Sunada (02:12):
Well, thank you so much for having me Sam and I just wanna back up and say, you know, us reconnecting at the Calgary CAPS session was really cool. Like just you sharing your story and you being you; that’s an inspiration for me and I believe in inspiration for young people as well as educators. So first of all, thank you. Alright, so a little bit about me, as a kid, I have five, there’s six kids in my family, and as we were growing up, I’m a middle child. And I remember we had the wooden desks and I would always play teacher. It’s like, okay, you know, the little, little ones line up, do the work. I think I really enjoyed doing check marks. You know, it’s like, okay, this is great. And so I actually out of high school, I went into broadcasting and did a couple, I have a diploma in radio arts and thought I wanted to be a radio announcer and after much consideration and some late night news work, I decided to go into education.


Joyce Sunada (03:12):
Mm. I always, I would watch movies that, you know, where the teacher would the underdogs and bring them to life and make everybody successful. And I just loved that. And so that was my dream is how could I reach out and touch students in a way that could empower them to be the best version of themselves or to reach higher than they anticipated? So my journey went from rural Alberta, one who split up to Calgary teaching health and physical education, which is really my passion some classroom teaching. And then at a point I decided to become an administrator and I just dived full in. And at the same time, our three daughters were growing up in, you know, junior high and high school and I burned myself out. Mm. And so it caused me to take a step back and go, you know, what, what, you know, what am I doing?


Joyce Sunada (04:10):
And I believe in hindsight, like hindsight is 2020. You can take that from us, elderly people, Sam is I really just feel that in the place, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I wanted to be an administrator. Like I love the hands on with the students. And that’s where, you know, I, I got my juice from, but I think I just gave so much. And I tried to please, so many people almost altering myself. I had this vision of what an administrator I thought should be. And so it didn’t fit with who I was now. I know I could be who I am and be an administrator, whoever, whatever I wanna be after the burnout. I, I was sent on a medical leave, which lasted over a year. And during that time had a chance to, you know, ground regroup reassess. And so then I would it back teaching part-time elementary F ed again, my sweet spot.


Joyce Sunada (05:05):
And so was part-time. Mm. Upon getting better, I was approached or had an interview with a provincial organization here in Alberta ever active schools and got a full-time position as a, I guess it’s like a provincial consultant. And then I got an to teach teachers about how to teach. And that was really exciting because now it’s actually probably the first time I really understood the curriculum because now I had to teach the curriculum who are gonna teach it. So it’s interesting how we learn what we most need to, we teach what we most need to learn. And after being with that organization for about four or five years, I started to feel that same kind of trepidation or, you know, the anxiety came back. And, and so I consciously made a decision to leave. I gave a year’s notice, took some coaching courses and then really started to get into the, the professional speaking.


Joyce Sunada (06:04):
When I joined caps, the Canadian association of professional speakers and learned how to build a business and become a better speaker. And the impetus for that was to help educators realize that it’s no important for them to take care of their own wellness because, you know, healthy educators help to educate healthy students. Yes. And we know from research that healthy students are better learners. And if we can ensure that the teachers, the assistants, the administrators, the students, that everybody is healthy, then we have a better impact on our future generations. So that’s where I am right now. I’m about to be a grandma. And so it’s exciting to go, okay, what will that world look like for him? And, and how can I support people to again, create that better future for our little guys,


Sam Demma (06:53):
First of all round applause for the future grandma moment. I’m curious to know, like, what does healthy look like? Does this, is there, like, how can we define healthy? Is it a certain amount of exercise that they should be doing? Is it taking care of mental health? Like, what does that look like?


Joyce Sunada (07:16):
That’s an excellent question, Sam, and I’m just gonna kind of dig in and go, I believe being healthy is being able to really live the life that you desire so that you’re able to move the way that you want so that your, your mental focus and your mental capacity is healthy. That you have a bigger belief than yourself. Some sort of spirituality doesn’t matter what it is, but for me, if we can take a look at all aspects of our life and I’ve just narrowed it down to those three and go, okay, I’m feeling good about who I am and how I’m showing up in the world. So it’s, it’s not a prescription. And when we talk about how much exercise and how much this and that I’ve, I’ve experienced and experimented life is an experiment and different stages. Like I love how, you know, at a time you were that high level soccer player and, and that’s what you, you loved. And that’s, that’s what you, my girls were high level soccer players too, which is so cool. And so at that time, you know, you require more activity. Maybe you need to more work on your mental game in order to get to that higher level that you want. So for me being held, I think at the core is really loving yourself too. Mm. And I know that that has been a journey for me. Yeah. And I’m going to venture to say that it’s a journey for a lot of people.


Sam Demma (08:48):
Yeah. I agree. I agree. And in that journey, you also discovered cycling. Is that something that you enjoy?


Joyce Sunada (08:55):
Cycling?


Sam Demma (08:56):
Yeah. am I correcting that?


Joyce Sunada (08:59):
I do. I do cycle outside. I mean, I’m not passionate about it. Yeah. And I do cycle, but


Sam Demma (09:05):
Okay.


Joyce Sunada (09:05):
I like to experiment. I like to do different activities and I like to, I like to dance too. There’s not much opportunity to dance, dance, you know, at dances. Yeah. But just, I I’m finding joy in moving and just for the sake of moving one of my colleagues, Doug, glad out of Edmonton, he says, you know, kids, don’t go up to the playground and go, I’m gonna do the monkey bars to improve my upper body strengths. And I’m gonna race you to increase my you know, my lung capacity. They do it cuz they love it. Fun, fun. It’s joyful.


Sam Demma (09:37):
It’s like, it’s a reminder to get back to being a child a little bit. Right. Yeah. When we bury all those things under responsibilities and expectations. I’m curious though, so someone comes to you as an educator, completely burnt out. What is the first thing you, you kind of teach them or help them with or ask I’m, I’m assuming it’s a bunch of questions, but like what would, what would you do with them? At the beginning,


Joyce Sunada (10:02):
Listen, the first and foremost is, is to really listen cause that’s their reality. And I remember being in that burnt out stage and it didn’t matter what anybody said there was just dark. Yeah. And so first of all, to wholehearted, listen, and then just watch, you know, where listen, where do they want to go? And how can I walk beside them? And everybody’s journey is different. And some of it might be the burnout often is not necessarily a direct result of the teaching. I I’m kind of going out on a limb, but burnout in my experience is more that there’s a lot going on and I’m making a circle with my hand because I do have them fill out a wellness wheel to just go, what areas of your life are kind of crashing down. So it might be spiritual or physical or financial or relational.


Joyce Sunada (11:01):
Right. And so we have to take a look at what they feel is kind of the weak spot and then go, okay, how can we step into that? Mm. And really focusing on, at some point when they’re ready is how can they love themselves? You know, we have, we all have really good friends. You, you talk about your good friends in, in your golfing adventures, in your podcast. And there are things that you would not say to your good friends that we say to ourselves. Mm. You know, maybe we did 50 great lessons and one was, you know, a disaster. And it’s like how that it was so stupid or what, you know, we go off on ourselves when I taught at the university of Calgary, some of my students would be like, like they were so afraid to make a mistake. Mm. And so I reassured them, you know, whether the lesson is awesome or whether the lesson lesson is, you know, a disaster you’re successful because you’ve learned something. Yeah. You’ve learned, this is great. And it’s like, this is how can I improve? Mm. And so back to the original question is just, is really listening, tuning into what they need and walking with them to where they wanna go.


Sam Demma (12:14):
Hmm. And you just brought up a great point, you know, and I think that every human being defines success differently. Right. And you know, sometimes we define success based on end results. Some other people define success based on what their capabilities are, what they’re doing in any given moment. How do you define success now? And if you could think back to when you were an educator and maybe even burnt out, how did you define success then? And are there shifts in those definitions?


Joyce Sunada (12:43):
Absolutely. Shifts. So I’ll just tell you a funny story. So I, I knew I was kind of going down. I had left administration and I was teaching grade five. And so I took the 30 kids out. We were gonna draw clouds for art. Nice. Now the purpose of drawing, the clouds for me was so I could go and lay on mother earth and just chill out cause I needed some TLC. Yeah. And so I tell the story, as I got 30 kids out, they had squiggles on their paper and they got, I got 30 kids back in that was success. Yeah. And people were like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe you did that. I can’t believe I did that. So, you know, in those lowest points, maybe success looks drastically different. Mm. Yeah. And, and with regards to success, we don’t always know.


Joyce Sunada (13:29):
I taught a one, two split here in Calgary. Oh my goodness. Probably to 20, some years ago, over 20, some years ago. And the kids live in my neighborhood and I happened to meet up with a mom one day we crossed paths and she was so grateful that I had her son because that was the early stages of identifying ADHD. And so I learned, you know, what his challenge as were, and I applied some of the skills to the whole class and it seemed like a lot of the children thrived. And so I didn’t know that was successful until 20 years later, but I would consider that a mark of success.


Sam Demma (14:09):
Got it.


Joyce Sunada (14:10):
Now success is, it’s really about owning who I am and, and I guess loving who I am and when I do a presentation or I, I coach people, it’s just knowing that I’ve done the best that I can do. And other people will have the experience that they have. And I, I can’t control that. So if I can go away and go, okay, you know, I, I did my research. I’ve prepared as best I can and put forward who I really am and then walk away. Not easy, not easy all the time. Yeah. But that would be my, my new definition of success and just that ability to live, how I really want to live and do I every day, absolutely not. You know, there’s days where I drag myself outta bed. And then there’s other days like today, I’m gonna talk to Sam. I better get, you know, I workout in and everything ready. Okay. Here we go. So, yeah.


Sam Demma (15:06):
Yeah. I I’m with you. I, I think that every person has those days. And if you don’t say it verbally, you’re lying. So it’s it’s true. I’m curious your coaching and your work has obviously shifted due to COVID and it’s definitely different navigating a world virtually than it is in person. Like, do you have any wellness tips or tricks for, you know, balancing life and work? It all feels like it’s one and the same. Like you, you leave your kitchen and you go to your office and it’s in the same, you just switch seats. Like it’s it’s kinda, it’s kind of bizarre a little bit, you know,


Joyce Sunada (15:44):
It is, well, you’ll notice I put on my bright pink top. Yep. Just for you, cuz this is an important meeting, right? Yeah. So little pieces like that separating, you know, work from home is like, this is my designated office and I do, I’ve got, you know, I’ve got some makeup on and I’ve got, you know, work clothes on during the day. I make sure that I get outside at least for a short time, I do have a, a small dog. And so if it’s a slow walk with my dog or it is a longer walk with a neighbor to make sure that there is some outside time and then too I’ve started if I it’s uncomfortable sitting for me for a long time. And so sometimes I will just go take my novel lay on my bed. It’s a, it’s just like, okay, so my body can totally relax, read a novel, you know, set a timer, maybe 15, 20 minutes. And that’s like, okay, back at, if there’s something else that I, I need to accomplish that day.


Sam Demma (16:44):
Hmm. Yeah. I love that. And you know, there’s numerous studies that show that walking for just 20 minutes a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. And I think those are pretty convincing odds to take a short walk. So yeah, I love that. I think that those are all so important and you’re, you know, thank you for, for dressing up and showing up professionally. I appreciate you’re making me feel flattered. It’s it’s cool. So what does work for you look like now, are you doing a lot of presentations virtually if they’re educators listening to this thinking, man, my teachers are extremely burnt out. My staff are beyond exhausted. What does your work look like? For those you know, clients who might be interested maybe listening to this right now?


Joyce Sunada (17:30):
My work has morphed Sam. I came off of, well, okay. My work has morphed. I actually, before COVID hit was considering kind of maybe retiring, you know? Mm. And so when March, you know, everything fell off the plate, probably like a lot of things did for you. Yeah. and I did have a couple sessions in the spring, April, and then in the fall, educators were really trying to figure out, okay, what’s next? So, Nope. We don’t wanna hear from anybody at this time. And then November started to pick up. And so I actually reached out to a group of other wellness. I’ll call them wellness educators. Yes. So we created what we call a joyful collective, the joyful collective, one of the, one of the gals, she named it, the joyful collective. And so what we do is we come together, put our expertise together and offer that to schools or school divisions or jurisdictions the, that want to know more about how to be well.


Joyce Sunada (18:31):
And the, the really fun thing is that there are, I think the four out of the six of us are practicing educators nice. And the other two women, they help to support of course, with, you know, research and you know, tried and true strategies. So it looks more like a collaboration so that we can better support and serve the clients. And because I’m about to be at grandma. And right now my mom’s having some health issues that I’m supporting her with is I’m trying to walk my talk and go, this is what’s important right now. There’s a fear that, oh my gosh, you know, everything will dry up and go away. And people will forget about me and I’m trusting. I’m gonna feed trust instead of fear here that it’s gonna unfold, how it needs to. And so maybe it’s a, maybe it’s a bit of a break. Maybe I come back stronger in this moment, Sam, I really am not too sure, but I’m open to the possibilities.


Sam Demma (19:33):
I love it. And I love that you said you’re feeding trust because it is an option. And yeah, that’s something that is sometimes hard to realize, especially when you’re going through a tough situation, that we still have a choice. Right. you know, people always say it’s hard to see the frame when you’re in the picture. And I think that’s true specifically now more than ever as we all face various challenges and problems. This has been a fun conversation. Joyce, I really appreciate you sharing your stories and coming on the show. If someone wants to get in touch with you and maybe even just have a conversation, what would be the best way for them to get in touch and do so.


Joyce Sunada (20:11):
It would be to email me jklmsunada@shaw.ca.


Sam Demma (20:29):
Awesome. Joyce, thank you so much. This has been fun. Keep up the great work and I’ll talk to you soon.


Joyce Sunada (20:34):
Thank you so much Sam for having me. All the best with your work too.


Sam Demma (20:38):
And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review so other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show; if you want meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Joyce Sunada

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.

Sarah Hernholm – Educator turned Entrepreneur, Founder of WIT

Sarah Hernholm – Educator turned Entrepreneur, Founder of WIT
About Sarah Hernholm

Sarah is a former elementary school teacher turned entrepreneur.  In 2009, she left the classroom to create WIT – Whatever It Takes. At WIT she works with t(w)eens around the world who are interested in using their voice and ideas to launch businesses, non-profits, and/or social movements. WIT also focuses on helping t(w)eens develop emotional intelligence, soft skills, and an entrepreneurial mindset. 

She has given 3 TEDx talks, a few keynotes, and one commencement address. When I’ not “doing WIT” I’m planning my next adventure, working on a new business idea, or spending time with my amazing family and friends. 

Connect with Sarah: Email | Instagram | Linkedin

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

www.doingwit.org

www.sarahhernholm.com

Camp WIT

Do WIT Podcast

From Victim to Victor | Sarah Hernholm | TEDxYouth@Austin

Authentic self expression: Sarah Hernholm at TEDxSDSU

Bravery: Commas, Not Periods | Sarah Hernholm | TEDxRBHigh

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 (00:00):
Welcome to the High Performing Student podcast. The number one resource for self development for young people. If you’re a student, athlete or youth entrepreneur, looking to crush your goals and reach your vision. This show is specifically for you. Each episode is engineered to provide you with the practical systems and strategies you can use to stay motivated, beat burnout, and ultimately make your dreams a full blown reality. And I’m your host, Sam Demma. Since the age of 17, I’ve spoken to thousands of youth across north America, and now I’m sharing the tools and strategies that will help you lay the foundation for future success. So grab a pen and a sheet of paper, and let’s go. Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Student podcast. Yes, you heard that right; The High Performing student. I know you’re listening to this on the High Performing Educator, or maybe you’re listening on the High Performing Student, regardless of where you’re listening.


Sam Demma (00:58):
I thought this episode applied to both audiences that I catered to. I have a second show. I have the High Performing Student podcast and the High Performing Educator. The High Performing Educator is geared towards people in education. The High Performing Student, geared towards students. Together, there is over 300 episodes. You know, if I combine both of the podcasts together over 50,000 downloads, I’m so grateful that you choose to take your time tune in and listen to this content. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. Whatever show you’re tuning in from, I’m super, super excited to share today’s interview with you. Sarah Hernholm is the founder of WIT(whatever it takes). Her story of getting out of a career and becoming an entrepreneur and doing amazing work and the obstacle she’s overcome and the people she’s met and the impact she’s making; all of it combined really inspired me.


Sam Demma (01:51):
And I was so impressed with her, her beliefs, her ideas, her philosophies, when it comes to life that I thought I should share this episode on both platforms. So I hope you enjoy it; have a pen and paper ready because you’re gonna take a lot of notes and I will see you on the other side, Sarah, welcome to the High Performing Student podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit behind the work you do today and why you even do it?


Sarah_Hernholm (02:25):
All right. Well, my name is Sarah, Hernholm. I am the founder of an organization called WIT(whatever it takes) and we help young people become leaders and entrepreneurs, specifically tweenagers and teenagers. We believe you’re never too young to start making a difference and that you’re never too young to be an entrepreneur. And so all of our programs and everything that we do is geared around that.


Sam Demma (02:48):
Why, where, why?


Sarah_Hernholm (02:51):
It’s why wit why doing entrepreneurship? I mean, I just feel that what kids are learning in school and I used to be a school teacher. So, and I do know that there’s great teachers. I was a great teacher and I know great teachers exist, but on average there’s not a lot of great, there’s not a of great teachers out there teaching real world skills and applications to young people. And I, I believe very strongly that if you really wanna be ready for the real world, then schools should be doing that for you and getting you ready for that. And if they’re not, then other organizations like mine need to exist until they get it together over there.


Sam Demma (03:37):
I like that. I totally agree. What, what do you think are some of the real world skills that are so important that we teach to our young people today or that you even teach at, you know, your own curriculums and schools?


Sarah_Hernholm (03:49):
Well, I think we need to be teaching financial literacy. I mean, you should be very clear on how to make a budget. You should know that how much things just cost and understand where that, that cost comes from. And then that’s very empowering when you know that information, cuz then you can know when you’re getting screwed over by something and then you got like, you’re getting a good deal. Like those kind of things. And then when you’re launching your own business, you wanna know what it’s gonna cost to actually run something. And all the things that go into that. So financial like real world application of literacy is really important. I like getting young people to grapple with, with ideas. And so that looks like, okay, you wanna solve this problem that adults have created, whether it’s climate change or homelessness or fast fashion, whatever the thing is that like you don’t like then start making changes and, and start creating an alternative and create a solution. And I love that. That’s what we do at wit is we really empower a young person to take the tools they’re learning at wit and then go do something. That’s why we say, do wit, just do wit yes, I know that is a little bit close to Nikes, just do it, but it’s just do WIT and that’s really our call to action to our young people.


Sam Demma (05:06):
And at what point in your own journey did you decide I wanna leave the formal classroom and start this organization and what prompted the decision to do so because even for a young person, making a decision to change paths is a huge one. Sometimes it comes with a bunch of difficult obstacles and the expectations of others like parents, family, and friends. And I’m curious to know what prompted your career change and what it looked like.


Sarah_Hernholm (05:36):
Well, there’s nothing like getting laid off everybody to make you start wondering what you’re doing with your life. And I was a teacher in California and in California, there’s something called last and first out. So the last teacher hired as the first one fired not based on merit, not based on the impact that you have on your, on your students, but solely based on your higher date. It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. It’s I don’t know of any other business that would ever do that. So I was laid off four years in a row due to due to budget cuts. And so the fourth year I was like, what the hell is going on? I mean, it, it was like being in a dysfunctional relationship where, you know, you’re doing like everything you possibly can. I mean, I was a great teacher. My kids were scoring off the charts, but besides that, cause I don’t really care about testing, but I knew how to play the game.


Sarah_Hernholm (06:28):
I had really, we were doing really cool things. We were even getting pressed about what we were doing in the classroom and still I was laid off or I was told to stop doing those things. And you’re like, I’m doing everything I can. And I love this and I’m doing passion and heart and it’s still not enough. This is so dysfunctional. Like this is so dysfunctional. So the fourth year is when I kind of, I had a moment of ma I’m well, first of all, it’s really good to like know yourself. So I was like, I’m not changing. The I’m not changing. I know that I’m not gonna dumb down what, I’m, how I do my teaching. I’m not gonna change to make. I was once told to stop doing things that I was making other teachers look bad. And then now parents were complaining and they wanted me to change what I was doing.


Sarah_Hernholm (07:12):
And I was like, I’m not changing it. And so I knew I was not gonna change. And that’s actually a really good thing need to realize about yourself is like, just to know yourself and to know that where your boundaries are, what your limits are, what your and I was, I’m not changing. And so if I’m not gonna change, am I willing to go play their game? And I wasn’t willing to play the game anymore. And so then I thought, well, if you’re not gonna do that, you gotta figure what you’re gonna do. And so that’s, I started figuring out what I was gonna do.


Sam Demma (07:41):
There’s so much to unpack there. Like where does your confidence come from to not change? And the reason I ask is because I feel like society pushes young people, especially to change, to mold, to certain societal standards. You might have been a little older than a high school kid when you made this decision, obviously, but where does your confidence, where does your confidence come from to, to stand in your own power and decisions?


Sarah_Hernholm (08:06):
Well, I wanna be clear that I’m not always like that. Yeah. I mean, I’m gonna be doing something right now. I got a really big opportunity yesterday and my stomach is still uneasy about it because I’m like, oh my gosh, am I gonna be good enough? Am I worthy enough? He’s probably expecting like this and what if I can’t deliver? And so it’s normal to you. Don’t just feel confident all the time. I mean it’s, but I was very, very, very confident in my teaching abilities. I’m very confident in that. Like I just, that’s something that at, can I take you back on it and do better and will I learn new practices and do better? Sure. But no one can even like, come at me with me, not caring about kids or like wanting to help kids or doing everything I possible for a kid.


Sarah_Hernholm (08:55):
Like, it’s just, that’s this one area of my life where you just like you can’t, I, I wouldn’t even believe it. Like there’s other areas of my life where I feel insecure and I feel not enough. And I try to take the, the confidence that I have in this other area and how I’ve gotten that and try to bring that over there. But I just don’t want your listeners to think that I’ve all that that goes into every area of my life. I definitely have areas where I need to work more on or I get to work more on my confidence, but I, it was UN I was unshakable. I knew I was great as a teacher.


Sam Demma (09:27):
Mm. And then, you know, you mentioned as well, this idea that school’s a little bit dysfunctional in the fact that we think our self worth comes from our GPA. And you mentioned very briefly just now, you know, I don’t care about that. And I noticed on your Twitter, you even retweeted something from someone named Neil Sharma, who was basically saying like, oh,


Sarah_Hernholm (09:46):
He was in my,


Sam Demma (09:49):
OK. Oh, sorry, Nick. Yeah. and he was basically saying shout out to all the kids who felt worthless, that didn’t do great in school, but your greatness isn’t tied to your grades. And I wanted to unpack that because I wholeheartedly believe it as well. You know, you judge someone by their ability to do good in math when they’re they wanna be the next Picasso. Like, it just, it doesn’t make any sense. You’re judging them based off something they don’t like doing. And then you’re gonna tell them they’re a failure because of it. So I wanted to know your perspective on GPA and also how it relates to students identities and, and self-worth,


Sarah_Hernholm (10:22):
Well, first I’ll share that I was not an academically inclined kid. I, I was not somebody who, what like thrives in, in a hypercompetitive academic info. And I was sometimes put into those, I, I was very fortunate to have parents who were wanting to give me the best education possible. And so we went to some of the best schools and one of the schools, I went to three different high schools, and one of the high schools was a college prep school and very, very intense, very academic and very competitive academically. And I think it was twofold. One, I just didn’t, I just didn’t buy it. I guess I was a little bit like, all right. I mean, I don’t know if it was a self-preservation or defense mechanism, but it was a little bit like you kind of suck as a teacher if I don’t understand this concept, because why are you like making me feel about, I remember one teacher would make me go to the board and do the math problems in front of everybody.


Sarah_Hernholm (11:24):
And I obviously was struggling. And instead of getting support, it was like, I guess we’ll wait, or I guess we’ll have to wait before we can move on until Sarah and I. And then when I became a teacher, I was like, who the hell does that to a kid? Yeah. Like I, cause I thought, I think you think when you’re a kid that wants you, you become an adult. Certain behaviors will make sense. While I became an adult, I became a teacher and I could never have imagined doing that because shaming, your kid is only gonna make them like perform worse and also have zero trust. And if you’re like me, it becomes a little fight or flight. So I mean, I would send I one time like walked out of a classroom, I just like put the thing down and like walked out. I probably got in trouble, but it was more like, you’re not gonna get me.


Sarah_Hernholm (12:08):
Like, you’re not gonna let, you’re not gonna have this moment of me maybe crying in front of everybody or whatever. Like I, I, but that is silly that I had to learn how to survive. Right? Yeah. Like that, like that that’s ridiculous. So I, I didn’t wanna stay at that school. My sister was there and my brother was on his way there and they were more, they were, maybe it was a better fit for them. It just wasn’t a fit for me. I went to a public school for about, I went for happy year and then I ended up going to a boarding school where a lot of people that I knew that I, I would go to summer camp. And a lot of people from summer camp would go to this boarding school. And I ended up there and probably, I would say my best high, high school teacher, one of my best high school teachers was from there, my English teacher.


Sarah_Hernholm (12:50):
And she kind of went me into shape. I mean, I, I kinda came in a little bit like a punk. I mean, I, but definitely self-preservation a lot of like defense mechanisms up get given what I’ve gone through. And she pulled me out of the room one day and said to me, you’re better than this. And you’re better than that. And I was like, I am okay. And that was really powerful. So my high school journey was that three, three different high schools became better. Academically. My later in high school got motivated. I could get the grades if I was motivated by something, but it was very hard to motivate me. And, but if it was like a carrot, like, oh, you can’t audition for something or you have to have a certain GPA to participate in something that was creative or theatrical.


Sarah_Hernholm (13:42):
I was like, okay, all right, I guess I’ll start working now. But otherwise I wasn’t really motivated. Hmm. I understand why so many people are, are motivated by grades and adults owe young people a huge apology for creating this beast, which is that we have told you that if you get a high GPA, then you will get into the school of your dreams and you will be happy and that’s not true. There is no death or, or job or title that makes you happy. It can provide happiness at times, but it’s fleeting. It’s not consistent because life happens in all the places that you end up going to, whether it’s a getting a job or a school or a partnership or a boyfriend or girlfriend, they don’t make you happy. You can experience happiness. There, so they’re is a big lie that we’ve told people. And as a result of that, we’re burning out young people and we’re also getting them pretty dependent on some hard prescription drugs. Yeah. So I it’s really unfortunate, but you know if you really wanna look at things and wonder why things happen, you just have to follow the money. And a lot of money is made on young people believing the lie that their GPA determines their worth.


Sam Demma (15:07):
How do we break that cycle? Or how do we helps students realize that it’s, it’s not, it’s, that’s not where their self worth is attached from. Yeah.


Sarah_Hernholm (15:19):
I don’t, I’m surprised that it keeps perpetuating itself. I don’t have kids yet. And, but I would never pass that on. So I’m kind of confused by all of these adults who have, even who even have, who even got the GPA, got into the school, realized that didn’t bring them happiness, realized that they had to do their own work and like maybe even change career paths, why they would pass that on to the live onto their children. I think maybe they just want, I, I think I know every parent loves their kid. My experience has been as a teacher and working with young people for over a decade is that parents are doing the best they can, what they’ve got.


Sam Demma (16:00):
Yeah.


Sarah_Hernholm (16:01):
And I’ve never met no one. That’s not true. Most parents I’ve met wanna do better by their kids and give them more than they had. And they might just go about it in walk ways. But I think parents have to just stop drinking the Kool-Aid and being like, no, I’m not, I’m not doing that. I I’m not. And, and maybe this next generation, when they have kids, maybe they will stop the, the cycle. Who knows. I don’t, I just do. I just stay in my lane, do what I can with the work that we do, cuz otherwise it becomes overwhelming.


Sam Demma (16:40):
Yeah. I’m hoping that the next generation crushes that meaning like when I become a parent, when you become a parent, because I know firsthand that it’s almost like education was everything that my parents and grandparents knew because you know, they come to this country with nothing and get an education. What gets you, which gets you a stable paying job. And that gets you a, you know, a very average life. And so in their eyes, education is protection and safety and they wanna like, you know guard you as your, as their, as their child or grandchild. Right. But I think we’re starting to realize that there’s so many other paths to a stable life that don’t just involve your grades and whether or not you get a 92 or a 72, you can still create a stable life and a great life after high school or post-secondary.


Sam Demma (17:27):
I think I’m curious to know, you know, I remember when I decided to take a break for my university studies, I dropped outta school after two months, you know, my parents looked me in the eyes and like, what are you gonna do with your life? I told them my dreams. And I said something along the lines of, and I didn’t say these exact words, but in my passion and in my description, I basically was saying, I’m gonna do whatever it takes. And I’m curious to know in your perspective, what is doing whatever it takes mean to you. And can you give us like a story or an example of a situation in your life where you’ve been told? No, because from your Ted talk, I know as an entrepreneur, you’ve been rejected hundreds of times. Yeah. So gimme some stories. What does it mean to be, what does it mean to do whatever it takes to you and gimme some stories or examples of how you’ve done it in your own life?


Sarah_Hernholm (18:14):
Okay. I’ll tell everybody that. So the name of the company that I started is called wit whatever it takes when I started it was called wit kids because I was gearing it towards elementary age. Got it. And the name came because when I was in teacher, my classroom motto was whatever it takes. The reason it be the classroom motto became, whatever it takes is because one day, and this is my first teaching job. I was teaching fourth grade in a trailer because the CLA the school was under construction. We didn’t, I didn’t have a classroom. And I was in a trailer and I was in heaven. I was so excited to start teaching and get my classroom. I mean, I was, I, I was loving teaching. I don’t know how in, how long into the first year this conversation happened, but it was probably pretty early on.


Sarah_Hernholm (19:04):
And a kid came in and they hadn’t done their homework. And I said, and I, when I always did my homework, I may not have liked school, but I always did well. I mean, I I’m gonna always, but I mean, homework was it wasn’t optional, especially elementary school. Are you kidding? I mean, my parents were still guiding me then. And so it was quiet time after school. Did you get your homework, play your sports? And I was really surprised. I remember being really at how casually. He said he didn’t do his homework. And I remember being like, why are you not concerned? Cause I’m concerned and you’re not.


Sarah_Hernholm (19:40):
And I was like okay, well you need to do your homework. Like, it’s part of your grade HES. Like, oh, okay, well I didn’t do it. And I said, well, why didn’t you do it? And without even like blinking, flinching, anything, he said, I was watching the Simpsons. And then I was even more like, are you kidding? Like you don’t even, like now you are even like, I mean, props tea for being so honest, but also like do not see a problem with this, that you were watching like a cartoon. And I said, you know, really the tip to everybody when you really wanna go like one way in a reaction, maybe it’s like more of an extreme reaction or anger or frustration lean into curiosity because that will keep you more present. So keep asking questions versus having like overreaction. And so I said did your parents like know that you’re watching?


Sarah_Hernholm (20:31):
And he said, oh yeah, we all watched it together. And so then I thought, interesting. So you have, in that moment, it was like, oh, well, the reason he didn’t think he’s doing anything wrong is because he’s doing it with his parents. Mm. And then I asked, did your parents know you had homework? Yes. Did you tell them it was done? No. And I’m thinking like just processing in real time. And I thought, oh, and I knew what demographic of kids I was teaching. I was clear on the school and the demographic and the situations of a lot of the kids. And I thought, oh, they’re gonna, this is gonna be different. Like, they’re not gonna, they don’t all have the same kind of support that I had growing up, which was sit down, do your homework, show me, it’s done. Put your folder in the backpack.


Sarah_Hernholm (21:16):
Right. Which is pretty, that’s a lot of like parenting, like a lot of like monitoring you. Yeah. And so that night I stayed late at, in the classroom and I wrote on butcher paid, I painted on butcher paper, whatever it takes, put it on the, the wall of the right above the chalkboard whiteboard in the front of the classroom, in front of the trailer. And then when they came in the next day, I said, this is our classroom motto. And we do whatever it takes. If it means you have to take your body and like put it in the other room, your homework, that’s what you do. And we do that because we love ourselves and we want, we, we have big dreams. And so I really tried to make it feel like, of course you wanna do whatever it takes because we do whatever it takes because we love ourselves so much.


Sarah_Hernholm (22:01):
And we have a, we, we believe in ourselves and we, we have goals and dreams. I didn’t wanna shame anybody. I didn’t wanna make it sound like we have to do whatever it takes, because you know, sometimes you get crappy family situations. It’s like, no, like nobody wants to, like, that’s not empowering. And that I still have that butcher paper and that, that sign and that when I went to different schools, like that was the motto. And so then when I left teaching and started my new thing, I thought I wanted to combine that. So that became wit kids then to wit then to do wit doing wit and I, I, it’s not whatever it takes to burn yourself out. It’s not about doing whatever it takes. And like I’ve hustled so hard. And so I, I only sleep one hour a day, no, whatever it takes about creating the life that you really desire and you need sleep for that life. And so do whatever it takes to get eight hours of sleep, do whatever it takes to move your body every day. It’s not a beat down, cut a corner, whatever it takes, it’s an empowering, whatever it takes.


Sam Demma (23:09):
I love that, that such a empowering story. And sometimes doing whatever it takes is sending a tweet to Gary Vee and then responding four years later and hopping on a podcast with him. Right. So that


Sarah_Hernholm (23:23):
So that was so random.


Sam Demma (23:25):
Well, you know, I think, and Gary Vee highlighted it in that conversation with you, he said, you know, it’s so important. You go into interactions, figuring out how you can give as opposed to ask. And I think that that’s such an important thing to keep in mind when we are chasing our own dreams and goals. And I’m curious to know your perspective on that and has it played a big role in your own entrepreneurial journey?


Sarah_Hernholm (23:47):
Huge. And I think it really played into why I got this big offer that I got yesterday. Opportunity yesterday is.


Sam Demma (23:54):
One second. You’ve mentioned it twice now, is it like private? Or can we like so light on yeah, it’s, I’ll tell you.


Sarah_Hernholm (23:59):
Offline, but it just happened. And so, but it’s just really timely because it’s around feeling a little bit inadequate and scared and, and that’s all really good stuff. It means you care. Yeah. And it’s on my mind and I’m gonna be working on this presentation after we have this call and this hangout. And I also feel like a, that the opportunity came due to me. It, I, of being focused more on like gratitude and, and giving. And what I mean by that is I’m really, really big on gratitude and what that looks like. It looks like I’ll just walk you through a situation. If someone’s gonna come be a guest at wit and speak to our teens. So we have something called wit Hangouts and we have them every week. And we bring in different CEOs, celebrities, entrepreneurs, we leaders, and they come in, they spend an hour with our teens for free and they share their stories.


Sarah_Hernholm (24:50):
And it’s an interview similar, like what we’re doing right now, but the kids can jump in and ask questions. And we do this because one, I believe that you should surround yourself with those who have gone before you and learn from them. And I also do this because that I expression your network is your net worth. I mean, and I think how cool is it to be 15 or 16 years old and already be connecting with John shoe? Who is this great director? And one day you wanna be a director. And now you’ve had a hangout with John talking about crazy rich Asians and in the Heights. And so I just really believe in that. And so we, I make the ask for someone to come and I share what, you know, I share the opportunity. And a lot of these, these people are like people that have met along the way in my life, but I thank them before they come.


Sarah_Hernholm (25:38):
I send a message saying, thank you in advance for making the time tomorrow to come to this hangout. We’re so, you know, just expressing the gratitude. And then during the hangout, a very essential part of the hangout is the last part of the hangout, where the teens write in the chat on zoom, their takeaways in their gratitude, because I’m wanting them to learn the value of takeaways and gratitude. And not only that, when I, I will call on a teen and say, oh, Emma, do you wanna read your, she didn’t take away. Emma reads it. And then she sees Dave’s face re like receiving that gratitude and being like, oh my gosh, like that really made him. And then the person says the speaker’s like, oh my gosh, like, I’m so glad that, that you, like, it resonated with you and I could help. And there’s this exchange of like, oh my gosh, just being, you can visually see the power of gratitudes. Then after the hangout, we’ve screenshot all the gratitude that the kids wrote. And then we send an email to our speaker and say, thank you. We thank them again. And then we say, and here are the GRA the gratitude and takeaways from our students that you can have time actually reading them and digesting them. And like, knowing that you really made an impact today.


Sam Demma (26:45):
Hmm.


Sarah_Hernholm (26:46):
Let me tell you, no one has done that for me. And I speak all over the place.


Sam Demma (26:51):
Yeah.


Sarah_Hernholm (26:51):
Now, are they wrong for not doing it? No. But when you do something like that, you stand out. And so this, this, we had a guest yes. Yesterday, and this person came and spoke and, and it was great. And I was like, oh my gosh, I really want this person to help me on my journey. They’ve gone. They they’ve gone before me. They are so like far along and I would love to work with them. And so I had a lot of asks I wanted to make, but I thought, no, the move right now is just, is gratitude. And, and, and sending the thank you email with all of the screenshots. And then they wrote me back and said, we wanna do something together with you. I


Sam Demma (27:38):
See.


Sarah_Hernholm (27:38):
And like, whoa. And I just, and receiving of that. And like, I’m really grateful. But I’m also, the other thing that I did was I got off that hangout and I wrote a thank you note to that. Person’s assistant an email because that person booked it and made it happen. And I also wrote a thank you email to the person who had introed me to the assistant, because both of those people were essential for me to get this star on. And I also think that people forget who helps them get there. And I will, I will. I know what it’s like to be the assistant. I used to work in Hollywood. I was an assistant to celebrities. I mean, you like, people don’t always treat you well, but you’re also the gatekeeper to these people. So it’s always so interesting. It’s like, so you just don’t wanna forget who got you, where you’re going or act like you got there all by yourself. And so, so gratitude appreciation. Those things are just really key for me. Give more than get it’s a tough thing though. It’s a tough thing to teach, especially to a demographic of young people who are fighting for limited spaces at colleges. And so they kind of feel like they don’t wanna share the spotlight. Yep. But I always remind them that there’s enough to go around.


Sam Demma (29:05):
So true.


Sarah_Hernholm (29:06):
There’s just enough to go around.


Sam Demma (29:08):
And I think, you know, you highlighted also within that response, the underrated value of just being a kind human being, like you’re not being a kind human being calculating like, oh, I can get this. If I say, thank you. Or please, it’s like, no, it’s just the right thing to do. It’s the kind thing to do. But natural by being a kind person like the world opens up for you, you know, in ways that you didn’t imagine, you didn’t do it to get things right. You do it to get things. But you did it cuz it was the kind thing to do. Like I, I, you know, I, there was a golf course near my house that me and my buddies just started playing at and I made an effort just because I thought it would make it funer to talk to the person behind the window who I was paying.


Sam Demma (29:52):
And I found out his name was ed and he he’d worked there and it’s his course for 25 years. And he was so happy to tell me all about his course. We finished the nine holes. I over, I thanked him, told him how much fun we had and he looks at me and he’s like, Sam, is this your first time playing here? I’m like, yeah, like this was an amazing experience. He’s like, go play it again for free. I told my buddies, they were like, bro, let’s go nine more holes. They’re super excited. Now I didn’t, you know, talk to ed and get to know ed, you know, so that I could ask him to play nine more holes, a golf, but it just, it just, it just happened. And I feel like that’s, you’re right. It’s such a hard thing to teach. And something, sometimes nothing ever comes from it, but it’s, it’s just a, I think it’s just the right way to go about living our lives. I agree. Yeah. So kindness is underrated. Don’t forget the at. Yeah.


Sarah_Hernholm (30:44):
And Gary, V’s really big on that. So a lot of that is you, if you follow, I mean, find people that you wanna follow that you wanna have on your, when you’re scrolling, but Gary is very big on gratitude and kindness and patience and all of that. So it’s good to have that always as a reminder.


Sam Demma (31:01):
Yeah, I agree. And if PE wanted, like to know more about your group I know Emma’s a founder of the sweet spot. I think that’s who you’re referencing have been some research. Yeah. If people wanted to find out more about your group, learn how they could get involved. Is that something that’s still open and, and accessible? Like tell me more about it.


Sarah_Hernholm (31:19):
So people can get involved in a variety of ways. If you’re, if you are, are a high school student, you can take college credit classes that you can then transfer to the university that you end up getting into. Cool. You can also do classes, not for credit. You can be part of WIT community, which is the members only online community of young entrepreneurs who get to go to those Hangouts and meet those people. Those, the applications are ongoing. We have fun things that we do like camp wit happens during the summer. And that’s competitive cuz I like a good competition. It’s healthy, nice and compete for some money for your business. I’ve never met an entrepreneur who doesn’t want money. So it’s really hard for young people to get access to money for their businesses. And so we try to find creative ways to get them in the arena so they can pitch and win some prize money. And if you’re an adult and you happen to be listening to this, or then we have speaking opportunities, mentorship opportunities, and we even are now letting people pitch us, adults pitch us the class. And course that they wanna teach are wit teens. And then if we like that class and course we will hire them to come in and teach that class.


Sam Demma (32:33):
Awesome. Very cool. And if someone wants to connect with you online or reach out to you directly, what would be the best way for them to do so?


Sarah_Hernholm (32:41):
Well, most of my handles I think are @miss_WIT. That’s, I mean, you can DM me. I mean, I’m on Instagram. I don’t have a ton of followers, so it’s not like, I’m like, oh, I won’t see your message, I’m getting hit up all the time. So yeah, you can find me there and then that’s probably the best way.


Sam Demma (33:03):
Cool. Awesome. Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to chat about WIT and your own journey, time’s flew by. I really appreciate you doing this and maybe we could do a part 2 in like, you know, six months or a year from now. Totally. Yeah. I hope you, the listener enjoyed this, and got something from it as much as I did and let’s stay in touch and keep doing great work.


Sarah_Hernholm (33:25):
Thank you for having me.


Sam Demma (33:26):
You’re welcome. And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review so other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show; f you want meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Sarah Hernholm

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.

Suz Jeffreys – Stress Management Consultant, Tai Chi Instructor & Certified Nutrition Therapist

Suz Jeffreys – Stress Management Consultant, Tai Chi Instructor & Certified Nutrition Therapist
About Suz Jeffreys

CEO Wellness Founder Suzanne Jeffreys, MS in Education, helps high achievers stress less, power up and create more balance in their lives. Want to look and feel great, work/volunteer smarter, and have plenty of time for family and fun, but not sure how? As an international Speaker, Fitness Professional, Tai Chi Instructor and Certified Nutrition Therapist, Suz teaches the self-care and stress management strategies you need with her signature Harmony of Body & Mind Method. 

Developed over 25 years, this unique system blends moving meditation, ancient Tai Chi principles, and her love of all things fitness, food and nutritional science. Suz offers keynote speaking, health coaching, corporate consulting, live classes and online courses. 

Suz and her husband Bob live in beautiful Estero, Florida. She has 3 kids, 4 stepkids, and 7 grandkids. Quirky facts: Suz loves Thai food, good wine, stand-up paddle boarding, horses, rescue dogs and beautiful beaches! Are you ready to stop trading your health for your lifestyle and impact? Find out more at Suzjeffreys.com or www.TaiChiwithSuz.com.

Connect with Suz: Email | Instagram | Linkedin

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Bank Street College of Education

The Health Sciences Academy

Suz Jeffery’s Personal Website

CEO Wellness Blog

Tai With Suz

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 (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. I’m super excited to share with you today’s interview with Suz Jeffreys. She has an Ms in education and she helps high achievers stress less, power up, and create more balance in their lives; in your life. The reason I was interested in bringing Suza on is because I thought her ideas, her philosophies, her practices, her teaching could help you stress less power up and create more balance in your life.


Sam Demma (01:07):
Want to look and feel great, work and volunteer smarter and have plenty of time for family and fun, but not sure how? Well, as an international speaker fitness, professional and Tai Chi instructor and certified nutritional therapist, Suz teaches the self care and stress management strategies you need with her signature harmony of body and mind method. She has been doing this for over 25 years. She has three kids, four step kids, and seven grandkids. And here are a few quirky facts about our guest here today. She loves Thai food, good wine, stand up paddle boarding, horses, rescue dogs, and beautiful beaches. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed recording it. There’s a moment where she literally takes us through a breathing exercise. So get ready, be in a quiet place while you listen today so you can get the full benefit of this interview. I’ll see you on the other side, enjoy. Suz, welcome to the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show all the way from Florida on this beautifully bright morning, both in Pickering and where you’re from. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about how, a little bit behind the reason why you’re so passionate about the work you do in education?


Suz Jeffreys (02:23):
Yeah. Thanks so much, Sam, for having me on, I love your vision. I love your energy and your mission, and it’s just very cool and quite an honor to be interviewed and spend the time together. So for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Suz Jeffreys. I’ve been an educator my whole life. I’ve worked with everything from three year olds who had learning disabilities all the way up through 98 year olds and fitness. And the best thing for me about being an educator is helping people to become more empowered by helping them learn and ask good questions. So whether I’m teaching Tai Chi, which I’ve taught for 27 years, or I’m teaching water aerobics, or I’m teaching stress management techniques now; working with younger, old, it’s just a privilege to help people be empowered to change their own lives with good education.


Sam Demma (03:06):
I love that. And I’m curious to know what led you down this path. You know, it’s funny people all often tell me that was such a great speech. And in my head, I’m thinking to myself, sometimes I give the advice I most need to hear. And I’m curious to know if you had a stressful experience in your life that let you down this path, or if not, what did, was it an educator or a calling? Like, how did you decide this is what you wanted to do?


Suz Jeffreys (03:29):
Such an insightful question, Sam. You’re so young to me that insightful. I love that. Yeah, actually. Yeah. So my original I’ve had several different chapters in work as an educator. I began to be a first grade teacher. I studied in college my last year to be a first grade educator because I studied political science. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. And I was putting myself through school and I was working full time, just like supporting myself. And I became interested in power and why some people take advantage of others and small groups. You know, I worked as a waitress called waitresses back then in New York city. And some people were nice and some people were not so nice. So that question expanded to why are groups of people kind to each other and not, and why are some groups of people more easily taken advantage of?


Suz Jeffreys (04:14):
And I was looking at first third countries, I was looking at indigenous populations first in the ruling class. And what I really found out Sam, it was kind of a mindblower was that people who couldn’t read or couldn’t ask good questions were the most vulnerable people. Mm. Because if they couldn’t read what was written or understand what was being said, or ask good questions, you know, really questions that would really reveal the answers that were meaningful, then there was so much more vulnerable to being manipulated. So I was like, Hey, all good. I know what I’ll do. I’ll become a first grade teacher and teach young children to love, to read and love, to learn and to love to ask good questions. So that’s really where I started, but then the story continues on from there. Cause I’ve worked with a lot of different people and several different actually as well.


Sam Demma (05:04):
Okay. So when you say that you make me even more curious, what do you mean several different species and, and how did that lead you into Tai Chi and the work you do with, you know, moving the body?


Suz Jeffreys (05:13):
Yeah. Great, great question. So a picture, this, I was a first grade teacher. I had two children was married and then when my two kids were really, really little, we were divorced and that was a very healthy decision for all all included. And the issue was I had like no money. I didn’t have a teaching job yet. I had finished my master’s degree, had a lot of school debt was struggling to find a first grade job in New York did find one. It was great. Cause I went to a great college to get my master’s degree. I had a great student teaching experience, but you know, back then in that year, which was oh, 30 years ago, like the job market was tight. Yeah. So I finally got a job. I was super excited yet. It was very challenging because I didn’t have very much money.


Suz Jeffreys (06:00):
I was paying for child support or childcare. Pardon me for two kids like babysitting for two kids, my child support wasn’t coming in. And I was like stressed the max, I’m kind of a, I can do anything kind of person. Like, let me add it. I’ll take it on. And yet I was super stressed out and overwhelmed and, and I, there was this one class. I could take my kids to where I bartered with the, the martial arts school in town. And I had no money for lessons, but my, my youngest really, really, really wanted to be in, in martial arts since he was like two. So I made him wait until he was four, but my youngest and my eldest seven and four took them to the community, martial arts school, all about building camaraderie and teamwork and supporting each other. It was a great school and cheering with all the parents on the side.


Suz Jeffreys (06:45):
But one day I was trying to hide tears while everybody else was cheering because I just hit rock bottom. That day. I’ve been struggling at that point for two years to support my children and to work hard. And I loved teaching, but I was working way too many hours with my teaching job. Plus also my part-time tutoring gig. I had started on the side to bring in more income. And honestly my kids were in daycare a lot more than I liked. And that day everything kind of came crashing down because the one treat I could afford for my kids and I saved up all week was to take them after clung Fu class on Fridays to get a slice of pizza. Mm. Back then remember like 30 years ago, 25 years ago pizza was a dollar, a slice and I would save up $2.


Suz Jeffreys (07:30):
They, they could each have one slice. I didn’t have any, we had ice water. That was it. But that was the big deal that day though. I didn’t have the $2 Sam. I did not have $2. And I felt like such a failure. And my biggest disappointment was that I was gonna disappoint my kids and I didn’t wanna do that. So I was trying to hold back, tears, sitting on this hard feature. Everybody’s like cheering. I’m just really trying not to cry. I’m literally praying for a sign. Cause I’m like, God, I can’t do this anymore. I’m working like a hundred hours a week. My kids are in daycare too much. Nothing is changing. I’m trying everything. I need a sign. What should I do differently right at that moment? And this is nuts right at that moment. I hear this soft music walking down the hall from the classroom, just down the hall.


Suz Jeffreys (08:17):
So I’m curious, I get up and I follow it. And I peek in the door and there’s all these people moving together in this beautiful, slow motion flow to this beautiful music was just mesmerizing. And I was peeking in the teacher, saw me, which I was like, ah, didn’t wanna interrupt them. And she’s like, come in. So I go in and pretty soon I start flowing with them and class went on for maybe five more minutes and I felt different. I began to breathe again. I felt my shoulders just sink and drop evident. They’ve been way up here. I was so stressed out. Mm. And I was just fascinated that I, I found out it was called TA Chi and it was all an ancient martial art to help to for self defense, but also distress less and balance better. And I was, oh, I was like, oh my gosh. That was amazing. And that moment my kids came running in. God’s honest to, they come running and mommy, mommy, guess what? Our best friends wanna take us all out for pizza? Can we go with them tonight?


Sam Demma (09:24):
Wow.


Suz Jeffreys (09:26):
Got it. That was my sign. Yeah. So I arranged with the school to bar with my Tachi lessons. And, and then honestly, in a couple weeks, everything began to shift in my life. I’ve things started to flow more easily. I was struggling less. I was feeling more centered. And honestly, even my kids told me, like, it was more fun again. They’re like, mommy, you’re smiling again. And that almost broke my heart because I didn’t even know. I hadn’t been smiling. I had no clue. Then within a couple of weeks, my tutoring business took off money was coming in. It’s like everything changed. And I took that as a sign Sam and I decided I was supposed to share this ancient TA Chi series of principles that helped create more balance in life with everyone. So I committed to a five year program to become a certified Tai Chi instructor. And I’ve been teaching in Taichi ever since,


Sam Demma (10:19):
Even to different species.


Suz Jeffreys (10:21):
Yes. Well, that’s where that comes in. So few years later I have, I get remarried. I have another child and I had the opportunity to leave my first grade job, which I love, but I was ready to have more time with my kids, still tutoring and had low spare. I loved horses as a child. And then I saw this flyer at my vet’s office for a horse rescue. They needed some extra money and they needed some extra hands. I’m like, ah, I love horses. Maybe I can help. I have a little extra money now. So I got involved with this organization and pretty soon I adopted one of the horses. Nice. And she was very traumatized. She’d been very abused. And I was looking for someone who could help train her to help her be calm and safe. Also, excuse me, to be rideable one day. So I found this horse whisper. If you ever heard that term, it’s like horse whisper named Bob Jeffries. And I couldn’t believe it. I went to watch him work with this one horse who again, not my horse. I was checking out first.


Sam Demma (11:20):
Yeah.


Suz Jeffreys (11:21):
And without touching this horse in about 10 minutes, he had this frantic terrified horse calm and centered, and he never touched the horse. Mm. It was all Tai Chi. Now, Bob didn’t know that at the time it was all flowing with energy and shifting energy and being very ground and centered and breathing now as a horse whisper, he had no idea. He was actually implementing ancient TA Chi principles, but the horse responded. I saw it and I’m like, okay, I’m supposed to do that work. So for 15 years I became a horse whisper. I became the centered riding instructor. And I went from teaching children in the classroom to teaching horses and people to bring out the best in each other.


Sam Demma (12:02):
I love that. That’s such a phenomenal story. And like what a, what a way to see the sign, you know at a moment, your life where you needed it the most. And it makes me think about the hun, the hundreds of people who might be stressed out in their life right now. Like if there’s an educator listening, who’s in the exact same shoes you were in, you know, maybe super stressed out, working so many hours per week to make sure their kids feel safe and, and healthy during this crazy time in the world. Like, what do you think their first steps should be? Like, what would you advise them to do? What would you advise your younger self to do maybe, you know, a week before you saw the signs?


Suz Jeffreys (12:41):
Yeah. So first of all, I wanna say, thank you to everyone. Who’s an educator. It’s the work that we do to serve can often be underestimated by others. Yeah. And often go unappreciated. And in those moments, it’s so important to remember why we do this work. Whether you teach first grade, like I did, or you teach high school or you teach something else completely like fitness or movement, whatever it is that you teach. Thank you for doing that because that’s how we make the world a better place, right. To share our gifts. And in response to your earlier comment. Yeah. Sam, usually we end up teaching what we need to learn the most. No doubt. I went from stressed out to much to understanding how to manage my stress and protect my energy. And for those of you who are teachers out there, or students or parents whoever’s listening, I I’d love to give you just some simple tips that you can use right now, anywhere.


Suz Jeffreys (13:35):
Anytime, if we want to let go of stress, tension, anger, fear, whatever’s just exhausting us and depleting our energy. We can always go to our breath and think about it this way. Our breath is literally biomechanically speaking. The easiest way for our body to release tension. Tension is an important to be aware of tension, anxiety, stress, fear, because they burn up our life, energy, our Chi, which is what she means in TA Chi, life energy. And then the philosophy of Tai Chi. The only cause of death Sam is that you’ve used up all your Chi, like you run out of gas. So we need to protect our Chi and to make sure that we don’t let it get wasted by things that are not important, or we can’t change. So stress, fear, regret. We gotta let ’em go. And the easiest way to do that is with the focus on her breath. So if y’all wanna do this with me, it’ll just take a minute and you really can do this anywhere. If you’re sitting sit up tall and relax your shoulders back, take your left thumb, place it gently in your belly button and layer Palm on your abdomen. And then your right hand on top. We’re gonna take a few moments to focus on our breathing in, through the nose, to fill our hands and out through the mouth, to empty


Suz Jeffreys (14:55):
Into the nose, to fill and out through the mouth to empty. If you like, you can close your eyes. That’s how we do it traditionally. But if you prefer, you can keep your eyes open, softly, gazing out. It’s something easy on the eyes, breathing into the, and out to the mouth. Listening to the sound of your deep breath Sounds a lot like the ebb and flow of waves on your favorite beach. And as we breathe deeply in this manner, you’ll fill your hands, filling up and emptying out. Our hands are on top of our center. It’s two to three inches inside our body. And we inhale to fill our center in exhale empty. We’re breathing deeply down to our center of gravity center of balance And center of power. We’re breathing deeply to relax the body, quiet the mind, and smooth out the energy. So whenever we feel stressed out anywhere, anytime I’ll invite you all, I’ll invite us all to just take 10 deep breaths, enter the nose so we can hear the sound of our beautiful breath And out through the mouth to empty. We inhale to fill up with positive energy and we Exel a let go of anything. That’s not serving us. Inhaling joy in


Suz Jeffreys (16:43):
Exhaling, anger, out, breathing balance, and Breathing, chaos out, breathing centeredness in breathing stress out. Let’s just do three more deep breaths together, breathing in and out In and out last one, together, breathing in and out, filling up with the good stuff and let going, letting go of literally anything that does not service the breath is powerful. It’s a beautiful tool we have at our resources that are accessed anywhere. Anytime. Just really a matter of realizing the potential for releasing stress powering up and balancing better. It all begins with the breath. We just have to remember to do it and to give ourselves the time it for a few deep breaths.


Sam Demma (17:52):
Hmm. What is tie? If she is life energy, what is, what is tie?


Suz Jeffreys (17:58):
I love that. So tie is grand ultimate.


Sam Demma (18:01):
Okay.


Suz Jeffreys (18:01):
Grand ultimate. And she can be can be translated in several different ways. It can be grand ultimate life energy. It can also be grand ultimate way.


Suz Jeffreys (18:13):
So the grand ultimate way in TA Chi is to conserve your energy, to protect it and cultivate more. And, and here’s why TA Chi, this is actually super interesting. And for you teachers out there, I think you’re gonna relate to this Tai Chi was created 1800 years ago by a Dallas priest named Chun. And he was head of this very important temple in China. He was the most highly regarded master of the temple. And he had a really big problem. His problem is he had a lot of responsibilities as head priests at the temple and his students meant back then Brazil men would flock from all over China to study with Chung fun and, and, and to be a dad was priest. You’d have to be a monk first and you’d have to study the, the ancient books of wisdom. And then you’d also have to practice Kung Fu, which is a martial art.


Suz Jeffreys (19:02):
And you had to become a warrior, not only a warrior that could attack and protect, but also a warrior that could heal. So you may have seen pictures or videos or movies where there’s all these Chinese people in the monk uniforms doing, you know, E so, so doing all these things together, they’re practicing one of the most important parts of ch fund’s job was to assess the students as any good teacher does. And one of the assessments was he had to test the martial arts skill and they wanted to go up to the highest level up being a monk and be ready to become a priest, which is a huge honor. Very few people made it there. It was a very, very high level of mastery, not only in the philosophy, but also in martial arts. And so Choong was a master. He was the one to test them.


Suz Jeffreys (19:48):
And if any of you out there have ever taken martial arts, you probably know for the higher levels of martial arts, you fight you spar. And that’s how they would test. But back then in China, they didn’t have like headgear and face masks and pads. No, you love like you fought. So Cho’s Ben’s problem was that he had to test all highest level students by fighting with them. And it’s not that he couldn’t beat him because the master never get every move. They always have a little secret on the head in the back pocket. It’s just no don’t mess with the master. It’s just not worth it. But his problem Sam was that he was using all this G you know, fighting with all these students. So I had to figure out a way to test his students and serve them without wasting his own energy.


Sam Demma (20:31):
Mm.


Suz Jeffreys (20:31):
So you know what he did


Sam Demma (20:33):
Invent to TA Chi,


Suz Jeffreys (20:34):
He invent to Tai Chi and you know how he got the idea. This is nuts. I’ll keep it short. He went to a cave and meditated until he he’s like, I gotta figure this out. So he went and meditated, you know, he’d get up every day and walk and eat whatever, and go back and sit and meditate. Three years later, my friend, he was coming up with nothing three years. Wow. So he went out for his daily walk. It was a sunny day. Like it is in Toronto, like it is in Southwest Florida. And he saw this big fat snake on the ground in front of him, just like, like taking a sun bath, you know, they just appeared to be totally sleeping there’s and he was looking at it and there was this circle circling on the ground and it was a spec and he looked up in the sky, there was a bird of circling. It was a Hawk. Well, he S possible second just rolls out the way and hits dog gets back up and he circles dives down again. The snake just rolls out the way, and the Hawk hits the ground really hard. Again, that happens over and over. And so finally, you can tell the Hawk is really exhausted. He does the last circle against more momentum than ever. He dives down and guess what happens at the last possible second, Sam


Sam Demma (21:47):
Snake just moves out the way


Suz Jeffreys (21:49):
They just moves outta way. It was working. The Hawk kicked himself on the ground so hard. He knocks himself out the snake, slithers over circles, a snake, and has the Hawk for lunch. Mm. And ch sun fun goes, that’s it. The snake wasn’t attacking anyone, but he wanted to protect himself off. And he was able to protect himself by getting out of the way, by allowing the attacker to waste his own Chi until he is completely de depleted. And then to go ahead with very little energy, very little effort, be the Victor. And that’s what inspired Tachi.


Sam Demma (22:25):
Hmm. It reminds me of Japanese ju to slightly it’s like the, you know, the art of Japanese jujitsu is using your enemies force against you or against themselves. And yeah, right before COVID hit here in Toronto, I, I did it for four months and it’s funny cuz you’re mentioning Kung Fu and all the different practices. And I enjoyed them, the, the sessions and the training, so much, many reasons, but one of the reasons that I enjoyed it the most was the aspect, the aspect of discipline. And and I think it’s really, it’s really awesome. And then, you know, discipline also ties into Tai Chi. Like there’s, there’s an older gentleman that I see at the park near my house, like every other day doing Tai Chi. And I never like looked into it like looking so peacefully and calmly and I just, I was always fascinated by it. And it’s really cool that you brought this up today and you’ve taught me so many things. So I appreciate it. And I know that the guest listening can say the same. If someone wants to learn more information about Tai Chi, get even get into it like what, what would, what would you advise? Would you just search up like classes and near their, or do you offer this thing online? Do you do this stuff online? Like what would be the best way for them? Yeah.


Suz Jeffreys (23:34):
Great, great idea. Yeah. For, for anyone who wants to try Tai just for free and play with it, I have a bunch of free Tai Chi videos on YouTube. Just look up Tai Chi with souse and that’s a growing library. I also have a free Facebook page called Tai Chi with souse and you can check it out. I have new content there every single week, cuz I really wanna spread the word Sam, you know, not only is Tai Chi and martial art. It’s also a way to stress less to protect our energy and to create my or balance there’s 10 ancient principles in TA Chi that were literally would change my life. And when we begin to learn those ancient principles and we implement them on day to day basis, whether we’re a parent, a grown up a kid, a teacher, a student it’s truly life changing.


Suz Jeffreys (24:21):
So my vision is to help spread the, the information and share it around the world. Cause in these crazy times, we need to find simple, profound truths that can allow us to connect more, to be healthier, to, to be more of who we truly are in this world authentically like you, Sam, you’ve got so much clarity around your purpose that you want to serve and help others learn how to serve this remarkable at your age. You’ve got the clarity and in TA Chi, we call that clear intent. Mm. When we have clarity, that’s one thing that can absolutely help us not only transform our own lives, but the lives of others. So you can go to TA Chi with sues.com or TA Chi with Sue on Facebook or Tai Chi with sues on YouTube. And you know, hit me up, send me an email if you’d like to get I have some TA Chi principles and little videos. I can actually email you. If you go to TA Chi with sue.com, you can sign up for that. I’d love to love to help anybody who’s interested in just finding simple ways to make their life better.


Sam Demma (25:20):
And you know, you mentioned the principles and every time you say something, I have like five more questions, but I’m keeping this. Like, I love that as concise as I can. The out of the 10 principles that you mentioned or alluded to, which one or two have had the biggest impact on you. Like I can imagine they probably all impacted you in various ways, but which of those 10 ancient principles impacted you the most and what are they


Suz Jeffreys (25:43):
For me, there’s really the, what had the really created a whole pivotal experience on many layers in my life was remember back in that class, the first class I just found by, I really say it like company. I didn’t, I wasn’t looking about it. Our seafood told us that story about the snake in the Hawk. And she said, so remember this means we all have Chi life energy and our life energy is precious because when we use it all up, it’s gone, we die. Mm. Instead, like if you were, it’s not that you have a heart attack, we die from a heart attack. It’s that people die from a heart attack and didn’t have enough cheat to survive. Mm. So she’s like, so our life energy is precious and we all have life. And that means every single person on this point is precious. I was like,


Suz Jeffreys (26:37):
Because till that moment, Sam, I had real self-esteem issues. Whole long story will get not get into. But I don’t know. I think a lot of people out there maybe don’t believe in themselves or their own words as much as we should. And when she said that, I’m like, wait, so Chi is precious. We all have Chi. That means I’m precious. And that means that I can protect my Chi. I can take care of me. I can simplify do less and give more. So the idea of conserving my Chi and that she is precious, keeping it simple has been just profound, really profound for me.


Sam Demma (27:13):
Cool. Yeah. I love that. Well, this has been a phenomenal conversation. We’ll definitely have a part two, sometime in the future. If a teacher does want to get in touch with you, do you have an email address you can actually share and recite right now on the podcast?


Suz Jeffreys (27:26):
Absolutely. The other website you can check out ’cause I do many things is Suzjeffreys.com. You can email me at suz@suzjeffreys.com and there you’ll see, I’m also a certified nutrition therapist, I’m a fitness instructor, and I’m a speaker ’cause I just, you know, the so many ways we can nourish ourselves and when we nourish ourselves and take care of ourselves, we have more to give to others. So suz@suzjeffreys.com would be awesome.


Sam Demma (27:52):
Awesome. Suz, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, really appreciate it. Keep doing awesome work and I will see you soon.


Suz Jeffreys (27:59):
Thanks Sam. It’s been a pleasure


Sam Demma (28:02):
And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review so other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show; f you want meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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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.