About Cathy Beauchamp
Cathy Beauchamp (@cbeauch) is a principal at Englehart High School (Grades 7 -12). She started in administration in 2006 as the vice principal of Timiskaming District Secondary School. She was the principal at this school when it transitioned to a 7 – 12 school in 2014.
Cathy comes from a sports background and incorporates an action-oriented teamwork approach. She puts the needs of the learners at the forefront of all of her decision-making and supports building capacity within her staff while focusing on wellness for all within the school community.
Cathy enjoys coaching basketball and encourages students to get involved in extracurricular activities in order to deepen their connection with the school. Outside of work time, she enjoys spending time with her family and being active in nature, usually with two golden doodles by her side.
**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.
Sam Demma (00:01):
Cathy welcome to the High Performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Please start by introducing yourself.
Cathy Beauchamp (00:10):
Well, good morning, Sam, and thank you for having me on your show. I feel very honored that you reached out to me to include me in your podcast. I am a principal in a 7-12 school in Northern Ontario in a little town called Englehart we have about 200 students in total. I’ve been at that school for four years. And previous to that, I was the principal at new district secondary school, which is a a half an hour south of where I am now and a larger school, seven to 12 again, and probably about 700 students.
Sam Demma (00:52):
When you’re a student, you always get that question. What do you wanna be when you grow up? I’m curious to know when you are going through school yourself, when people ask you that question, was your answer a principal?
Cathy Beauchamp (01:08):
No, it actually wasn’t. I was a little bit of a resistor and I think it had to do with the fact that both of my parents are educators or were educators. My mom was a secondary art teacher and my father comes from a PHED science background and he actually went on to be a principal as well. And fun fact, he was a principal in the same two schools that I’ve been a principal in. Oh, wow. So that’s kind of neat. So being around the dinner table and being around a lot of talk of edge in my youth sometimes it can kind of sway your decisions on things and it’s also it, it’s also something that it was kind of thought that I would do that. And I kind of felt like I wanted to prove that there was more to myself then at the time I was very athletic in high school and, and through university.
Cathy Beauchamp (02:12):
And I think everybody thought that I was going to go to university for something PHED science related and I thought, no, I’ll, I’m going to do something different. And I went off and did a commerce degree which was, which was a interesting sitting in a university first year accounting class when I had never taken any high school accounting. It moved really quickly, but I managed to model my way through that learned a lot along the way made some good friends. And I worked in the world of, of, in Toronto for about a year and a half. And then I, it, I literally woke up one morning in Toronto, in my basement apartment and thought, what am I doing? Mm. I felt like I was kind of resisting something. And I said, you know, I, I wanna teach. And at that point I, I made up my mind.
Cathy Beauchamp (03:10):
I, I moved back north with my parents. I supply taught for the year. And then I actually went to the following year, ah to a first nation community along the James bay coast. And I taught at Northern light secondary school. And that was a, a great experience. So I was teaching unqualified at the time. But then as life would have it we ended up moving. I was engaged at the time and my husband had a job offer in Alberta. And so we moved to grand Prairie Alberta. After I finished that year and the education dream was put on hold a little bit. I dabbled in, in some more business type careers and had my children nice. I have two children Sabrina who is now RN at Ottawa general in the emerg department and my son, Randy, who is just finishing up teachers college at EPON university in north bay.
Cathy Beauchamp (04:17):
Nice. so we are at the, for seven years at which time I started my masters of education program online through Ning. And then we ended up returning to Northern Ontario. You think, you, you say you’re leaving and you are not coming back, but it’s funny how the world works. Yeah. And we ended up back in Northern Ontario. And I went to, I actually taught again unqualified at to miss being district secondary school, a couple of courses in business, and then went to teachers college. And, and then I did like a five years of teaching and then moved into administration.
Sam Demma (05:02):
W it’s funny, I, I interviewed another principal named Kevin wedling who’s from Mousonee. Which a small world, what, along your journey, what helped you make the decision that education was for you?
Cathy Beauchamp (05:18):
I think it’s, it was just that it did come very natural to me. And I think I always had my hand in coaching after I left playing basketball and I, I just always felt very comfortable and at home in that environment and sometimes you don’t realize that that’s your place and you’re until you go other places. And not that those other experiences, I think they really add to it and they help you appreciate when you’re back into the area that you have the passion for. So I think that’s why the journey wasn’t quite as straightforward for me as it is for some people. But all of that experience along the way of that journey certainly helped to enrich what I brought to the table.
Sam Demma (06:14):
And you’ve worked in various roles within schools, you know, both teaching and administration for an educator out there who wants to know what it’s like to work as a principal. How, how would you break it down?
Cathy Beauchamp (06:33):
Well it’s like being transformed out of your classroom and sometimes as a teacher we’re very fixated on our class and now we’re very fixated on our school as a principal. So it’s just a little bit wider lens. But it’s, I always find it very inspiring. Working in it education, there’s so many great people in our school, in our board, just I mean with technology and social media, it’s really busted open education in the way that we can communicate with others and bounce ideas off people and connect with people to share ideas. It’s, it’s very inspiring and very uplifting, like the ideas that people come up with and that as a principal, you’re able to sit there and bounce ideas off people. It’s, it’s great. They’re, you know, dealing with families, dealing with students is always a lot of fun and seeing at growth now that we’re in a seven, just 12 school. When I first started in administration, we were in nine to 12 school. So the, the seven and eight experience added in in my first year as a principal added a whole new, an area of development that I wasn’t as familiar with. And you know, I, I like having that, I think it’s a good transition for those students to be in a high school environment
Sam Demma (08:07):
For educators listening, who, you know, want to remain optimistic and positive, despite the challenges of our time right now, what do you think are some of the opportunities in an education? Maybe that exists because of current situations, but also just in general?
Cathy Beauchamp (08:29):
Oh my gosh. There’s lots of opportunities. You know, I, I have to applaud teachers on these this past two years. They have undergone some of the greatest professional development really kind of was forced upon them for survival. Yeah. And they’ve done a fantastic job pivoting to remote learning. And in our, we we certainly had our share of it. We’re in it now. Last year we weren’t in it as long as some of the schools in Southern Ontario. But I, I think, you know, as an educator, it’s important to, to set goals and, you know, you may be happy with being classroom teachers, lots involved with that. But I think it’s important to keep yourself open to learning and to new ways of teaching or different technology and finding that balance in your program, keeping it fresh, keeping it current, make sure we’re preparing our students for their future.
Cathy Beauchamp (09:38):
Those are all good things in terms of movement, I mean, in a, in a high school, you have an opportunity to maybe move towards a, a department head position to try out, to see if you like a leadership role. And then there’s also, you know, taking non responsibility of maybe doing teacher in charge or something like that, too, that gives you an opportunity to be in an administrative role for a short period of time to cover for principals when they’re away. And it is, it, it is a very different job. It’s if you were to ask me to give you off description, I couldn’t, if you’re the, like, if you’re a person that likes to know exactly how your day’s gonna roll might not be the position for you because there’s something that either comes through your door or a phone call or whatever it can change your day quite a bit. So but it is also very satisfying career being able to work with youth, being able to work with teachers, being able to work with principal colleagues in our senior admin team. We are very fortunate being a smaller board that, you know, we know our, our senior administrators for our board very well and meet with them on a monthly basis.
Sam Demma (11:00):
What keeps you personally motivated hopeful and inspired to continue doing this work day in and day out?
Cathy Beauchamp (11:10):
You know, I think just like talking to students can just turn your day around. Hmm. You know, and, and sometimes I, I, and I do find it’s important as an administrator to get out into the halls and, and get into those classrooms because you’d be surprised by the conversations that happened that probably wouldn’t happen if you had stayed in your office. So I think I, I am, I’m always, I see, you know, some of those principles putting their desk out in the hall and I kind of like that idea too. I don’t know that I’m there yet. I seem to have to have too much on my desk, but I do like that idea. I do have a standup desk already, so thanks. I’m, I’m moving there. But and also so that from a student perspective but teachers also inspire me in terms of just the ideas that they come up with, the visions that they have.
Cathy Beauchamp (12:14):
And it’s, it’s great to see, you know, where our kids move on to the different careers and having them back in to the school to speak to our students or having back in as staff or, or whatnot. It’s, it’s really encouraging to see, I think like being in this career kind of keeps you a little bit in touch with not, I’m not saying that I’m very, no, all everything going on with youth, but it does give me a little bit it kind of keeps you a little bit more youthful, I guess, in terms of what’s happening.
Sam Demma (12:52):
That’s so true. I think schools and just working with youth in general is always energizing. They have awesome ideas and not just young people, all people, but, you know, you’re less, you have less conditioned beliefs as a young person and you believe that everything is possible and you chase really unrealistic. And not that that stops as you grow up, but I think that’s where the energy and the youthfulness kind of comes from. It’s true. But you also are heavily involved in athletics. How has that shaped the way you’ve approached teaching and, you know, working with young people?
Cathy Beauchamp (13:33):
Well, I’ve always felt that coaching allowed me to give back to the community that I really enjoyed. I could not imagine going to school and not being involved in athletics. And I know that that could that sediment could be shared whether it’s the arts or trades or whatever, lots of different extracurriculars, but for me, it, it definitely was athletics. And I just think, especially as an administrator and coaching, it’s allowed me to have a connection with students in the school. That’s just at a different level. It’s, it’s it, I’m not the principal in the office anymore. I’m their coach. I’m, I’m traveling at one point when I was at TDSs. I used to drive the bus. Oh, nice. As well. So you know, lots of hats that you wear and it, it is just really rewarding to see the kids enjoying that.
Cathy Beauchamp (14:37):
And I, I do really feel for our students right now that extracurriculars have kind of been in a stop start, you know, pattern. And we, we were able to start this year with extracurriculars and instantly I could see a difference in the kids that were involved. There’s just more of a connection with the school. And I think, and that goes for all of our extracurriculars, whether it was students, council, jock, chapters guitar club, just they just saw school as something more, and that’s the way it should be. And I think it’s so important to have those things. And I really hope that we’re able to get them going again. Shortly
Sam Demma (15:23):
I agree as someone who pursued athletics pretty much my entire childhood up until the age of 17, 18 years of old, I identified a large majority of my life with, with an identity as a human being with the sport of soccer and found community there found success, found happiness, found so many things from, from sport. So I hope things open up soon, too. And all for all your, for all your students as well, not just me and soccer players, but for all extra cooker activities and clubs. In terms of your own journey and education, what have you found helpful when it comes to resources or learning materials, books, things that you’ve come across that have maybe influenced the way you approach your work or have enhanced it, or taught you something that you found or thought was really helpful?
Cathy Beauchamp (16:21):
Well if there’s one like really positive thing about the pandemic, I think it really has opened up a lot of learning opportunities for people not just in educate, but certainly during our last lockdown last year, I took advantage of a lot of the free professional development out there that was available online and jumped in where I could to to, with learning that kind of Cohen side, it with things that we were working on within our board or school or things that I could share with my staff or students that might help through this journey. I do like to kind of align whatever I’m reading or whatnot with, because it’s kind, it can be very overwhelming to try, try to have too many ideas in education. And so I try to align things so that it makes sense to me.
Cathy Beauchamp (17:23):
And I hopefully make sense to my staff that I’m not throwing too many different things at them. I think it’s important to have curiosity and to ask questions and to learn as, as much as possible. I do do professional reading, but I think more so I do more just personal reading in the evening, just as a way to kind of unwind for my own wellness. And I try to do more professional reading you know during the day or, or even the, like I find sometimes talking to people is, might be a bad source of digesting some of that information too. So lots of different sources. I I’ll look on Twitter. I, I have to say that I am kind of like that stalker type person on Twitter. I, I should, I have to force myself to get out there and respond more. But I do like to make connections when I see things that I know maybe someone in my staff is working on that I’m sharing things with them and being that kind of resource for them, as well as just resourcing things for my own professional development. So that’s, it’s kind of of a mixed bag.
Sam Demma (18:51):
I was speaking to someone literally two days ago, who, when we started the call said, oh, I saw you live in X. And she named the city I’m from, and I said, well, how did you figure out that? And she says, oh, it was on one of your Instagram pictures. And I was like, oh yeah. And I already know that you’re from Winnipeg. And she’s like, where’d you find that like, from your Instagram page? And we both started laughing because I feel like social media has made it acceptable to some degree to like stalk somebody like to like, you know, like figure out some basic information about them before you actually talk. So that’s kind, that’s kind of funny, but that’s awesome. And you sound like you read a lot. Is, is reading a, a big part of your life or is that something you’ve always done?
Cathy Beauchamp (19:35):
It’s something that I have tried to do. It’s kind of one of those goals. I think it’s very easy to, to watch Netflix in the evening, which I will admit that I, I do sometimes unwind, but I usually try in the last half hour, hour of the evening just to read something just to reduce the screen time, especially during the school year. Nice. Yeah, that, it’s just, I try to work on a, a girlfriend of mine talk to me about habits. So it was talking to our, our friend group about habits and she was saying that it takes 33 days to develop a habit. Oh, wow. And so that you should write it down what it is that you want to do, want to eliminate, want to add whatever it is, and try to do that for 33 days and not to be hard on yourself.
Cathy Beauchamp (20:26):
If you missed a day, it’s not like you have to go back that you, you missed a day and, and carry on. And so I tried that actually this year when you talk about athletics I found that I’m an a weekend summer athlete and during the school year, Monday to Friday, it’s not very good. So I tried to adapt Monday to Thursday, philosophy of doing something for at least a half an hour as a habit. And I did that through the fall and it, it makes a difference and, you know, taking that time and, and I often found it was at lunch. I would just take that time and go out for a walk or go down to the weight room and do a little bit of yoga or something to that effect. It was important to, to make that time. And once again, if, if the day gets away from you and it doesn’t happen, it’s okay. You start again tomorrow.
Sam Demma (21:29):
That’s awesome. There’s a phenomenal book called atomic habits, and it talks all about the practice of replacing habits and the science behind habits. And maybe you’ve actually heard of it already,
Cathy Beauchamp (21:40):
But I it’s probably that what this discussion came from for sure. I, I, I guess I got the Cole’s notes version of it from her.
Sam Demma (21:49):
Cool. That’s awesome. And you were an athlete, you still are involved in athletics, both as a coach, but also a part of Neo for some people wondering what that weird word that they don’t know what it is. Can you explain what ne is and your involvement?
Cathy Beauchamp (22:09):
Sure. It’s just a Northeast Northeastern Ontario athletic association. And so our association encompasses schools basically from the north bay area, right up through to Hearst whether they be French, Catholic public boards. And I sit as a principal rep on our association to represent our region, which is actually Tamy to to Hearst. And then we send teams through to a, or meet about things regarding a and extracurriculars to deal with sports.
Sam Demma (22:55):
Awesome. And this is gonna be the hardest question of the whole interview, but oh boy, No pressure. If you could, if you could take the wisdom and experie into knowledge, you have now bundle it all up, go back in time, walk into the first classroom you ever taught in and speak to your younger self. When you were in your first year of education, knowing what you know now with the experience and advice, what would you tell your younger self?
Cathy Beauchamp (23:31):
Well, there’s a few, few things I would tell my younger self. I think initially I always felt from a team perspective and, and we talked about how teams develop those life skills for us. But I was often surrounding myself with similar minded people. And I think as I entered education, there was a habit to do that as well. And I think it’s really important to respect and, and try to, and people that have differences of opinions because it’s, there can be a lot of growth that happens there if you’re not resistant to it and it can help to create a stronger team. And so you, you know, what, and giving people a opportunities to share in leadership, it’s not just sort of like a dictatorship that you’re having other voices be heard too. I would say as an educator, it’s important not to take things personally.
Cathy Beauchamp (24:42):
I know that we all do but it it’s at times you, you need to let things slide for sure. I’ve always had a philosophy of not letting things Fe in terms of communication. If something has go gone wrong, I like to address it and not let it build up to something that I don’t want it to become. I have a strong belief in that I should model what I expect to see. So whether I’m working with students I’m modeling what I would expect them to do, or whether I’m working with a staff I would model what I want them to do. I shouldn’t be expecting them to do something that I, I can’t do. And I think that has served me well. It’s important to be fair. And that probably the most important thing is to admit when you’re wrong, because you’re going to be
Sam Demma (25:49):
So true, Kathy, thank you so much for taking some time to share your experiences and stories on the podcast. If someone is listening and wants to reach out, ask you a question or send you an email, what would be the best way for them to get in touch with you? You can share the actual email itself. And I will also put it in the article we post on the website.
Cathy Beauchamp (26:11):
Okay. I’m on Twitter at (twitter). Or I am my, my school email is (email).
Sam Demma (26:33):
Thank you again for taking the time. This has been a lot of fun. Keep up with the great work and I look forward to talking again soon.
Cathy Beauchamp (26:39):
Thanks very much, Sam.
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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.