Diana Speranza – Catholic Educator and Life Long Learner

Diana Speranza – Catholic Educator and Life Long Learner
About Diana Speranza

Diana (@speranza_dpcdsb) is committed to a life of learning, inspiring students to be engaged in the learning process, building strong relationships, ensuring that all voices are heard, and working hard to help the underdog and the most vulnerable. She studied at St. Michael’s College-University of Toronto and the University of Western Sydney, Australia.

As a secondary administrator in DPCDSB Diana works hard to create a welcoming school culture of inclusivity that allows for staff and students to share their gifts and talents, voice their opinions and work collaboratively to make school a safe place of learning, growth and compassion.

Connect with Diana: Email | Instagram | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Cardinal Ambrozic

Anti-Racism Resources

St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School

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 Educator podcast. I’m your show host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Before we get into today’s awesome interview with another amazing educator, I have something of value that I wanna share. If you’ve ever struggled with teaching your students virtually, if you’ve ever struggled with getting them to turn their cameras on, I have have assembled all the information that I’ve learned and developed over the past six months of presenting to students virtually I’ve spoken at over 50 events since COVID hit back in March and I’ve taken my best tips, my gear list, and any special ninja tricks and assembled it all into a free five video mini course, you can go and get access to it right now www.highperformingeducator.com. And if you do pick it up, you will also get added to a private group of educators who tune into this show. People who have been interviewed on this show and you’ll have access to opportunities to network and meet like-minded individuals during this tough time.

Sam Demma (00:59):

So if that sounds like it might be helpful, go to www.highperformingeducator.com, grab the free course and get involved in the high performing educators network. That’s Enough for me and onto the show. Today’s high performing educator guest is Diana Speranza. She was educated at St. Michael’s College University of Toronto, and at the University of Western Sydney all the way in Australia, she is committed to a life of learning, inspiring students to be engaged in the learning process. Building strong relationships, ensuring that all voices are heard and working hard to help the underdog and the most vulnerable as a secondary administer in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Diana works hard to create a welcoming school called of inclusivity that allows for staff and students to share their gifts and talents, voice their opinions, and work collaboratively to make school a safe place of learning growth and compassion. Enjoy today’s interview with Diana. Diana, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show after connecting with few times, why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing how you even got into education?

Diana Speranza (02:11):

Okay. Well thank you, Sam so much for having me. It was nice to have a couple chats with you and I’ve done a little bit of research and, you know checked out a little bit about what you, you know, the stuff that you’re doing and you’re doing amazing things for kids. And thank you so much for doing that. So I’m Diana, Diana Speranza. I’m currently at Cardinal Ambrozic CSS formally, I guess like VP, but currently in the role of interim acting principal currently. And I’ve been in education for a long time by what, 25 years, 26 years. And I came into education because I had a lifelong need to learn. And was turned on to learning in school in high school. And it wasn’t necessarily, you know, becoming an educator wasn’t necessarily always the top thing on my list of priorities, but the learning process always was right.

Diana Speranza (03:15):

So like wanting to continue to learn, going to know why did I go to university to continue learning? Not because I had it in my head, this is what I wanted to be. And a lot of that came from and was sparked by the experiences that I had as a student in high school and in elementary school, so different raised nice. And now working too. So yeah, it’s lengthy journey to get here, but absolutely. You know, I wouldn’t trade, I wouldn’t turn trade it, you know, in, for the world. Like, I mean, I know that I’m doing what I was called to do and, you know, working with kids and working with teachers now, my teachers and students, and trying to share that you know, that’s inspiration for learning and you know, is, is kind of, you know, it’s important right to me.

Sam Demma (04:08):

So it’s awesome. I love that. Tell, tell me more about how you were turned onto education. Like, what does that mean? What were those experiences that you had that kinda led you down this path?

Diana Speranza (04:20):

Okay. So I’m gonna give you like an example that, you know, we talked about before I stand, right. but in high school I had always been a, a student, like, you know, even prior to high school, a student who kind of, you know who worked hard, was conscientious you know you know, insured that, you know, I doing everything that was asked of me to do in a sense of like, you know meeting all the, the, you know, the guidelines and regulations and whatever. But it was really in high school particularly with this one teacher Ramona Gosky who I think was the turn on to really lifelong learning to me. Right. because it was with her that I started to see that it’s not about just checking the boxes, ensuring that you’re, you know, studying and, you know, and, you know, passing tests and doing well and getting good grades and appeasing your parents.

Diana Speranza (05:13):

And, you know, it wasn’t just that, right. It was with her, it was all about, you know, why is it that you wanna learn? And let me tell you in grade grade nine in English I was, it was my first failure, really, like, you know, it was at that time when I was going to school, cause it was many years ago, we were like terms. And so you had the same eight courses for the entire school year. And if you passed like, you know, your first term exam, then you got exempted from the rest. So, you know, that was happening in all of my courses with the exception of you know, my English class was morning course. So first English exam in high school. And technically, yeah, well, yeah, first English exam in high school and failed, it got a 47.

Diana Speranza (05:57):

Right. and, and I really hadn’t failed at anything, you know prior to grade nine. And so that was a big thing for me. Right. He was like, oh my goodness, what happened? How could this possibly happen? You know, my answers were, you know, along and they were like, I filled in all the boxes and I felt right. And for me that was a huge moment in the sense that, oh my goodness, like, how could I not have right. Achieved, you know, with the expectations of what she was looking for then turns, you know, after that you go, you know, how did that happen have that conversation with the teacher and in that conversation with her that one conversation, even though we had had many it was in the, in those moments that I learned that, you know what was I going to do?

Diana Speranza (06:45):

What did I have to do to try to impress this woman to get a passing grade and I worked so hard, right. You know, okay. Tell me what I need to do. Okay. I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna try it once. I’m gonna try it twice. I’m gonna show her to see if this is good and I’m gonna work on progress. And so the rest of that school year became me trying to work towards, you know meeting her expectations. And as I was meeting her expectations, I was then starting to actually get turned onto that process of learning. Right. Mm-hmm and how it’s all about like, you know, getting better, you know, doing more expanding your knowledge. Right. So all of that became part of not just checking the boxes of accomplishing things. It became part of the process of kind of learning.

Diana Speranza (07:24):

And it was at that moment that I, that, you know, and I’m so glad that I had that in early high school, because the way that I then treated high school for the remainder of it was to what are my interests, you know you know, what are the things that I, it, it became very different for me. And I, I don’t wanna say that I was no longer mark driven but I was very, very much less mark driven, right. Because of that particular experience. But I wanna talk a little bit more about her and what she did.

Sam Demma (07:52):

Yeah. Tell me, yeah. Tell me, like, I wanna pause for one second though, and just reflect on the, a fact that you fell in love with learning through failure. And I think that’s really awesome because a lot of the time we think that you’ll fall in love with things when you succeed at them. But sometimes it’s the total opposite. And I think your story is a phenomenal example to show that sometimes struggle, isn’t a bad thing. You might find yourself in struggle might find yourself in hard times in, in hardship whether it’s failing French class or blowing up your knees on the pursuit of a career, you know so with that being said, please tell me more about what Ramona did for you that made it such a transformative experience in her class.

Diana Speranza (08:38):

And it was that, that sitting down with you and kind of walking you through her life, like actually bringing her life examples. Right. Mm. And talking about her failures in life, right. Yeah. And not too much, cause I didn’t really reveal a lot as like high school teacher that I eventually went on to have in multiple years. And I think I, I might have mentioned this to you before that you know, I wanted to have her as a teacher. Right. later on. And so that did get an opportunity to have her two times more nice you know, in high school because I wanted to be pushed and I wanted to be challenged and I wanted to have all those things happen. Like I, I said before, like this is, that was my first kind of failing experience, but it, it definitely has not been my only right.

Diana Speranza (09:20):

Like I continue to go through life failing at particular things, you know, you work hard. But you’re so right. Like we learned from those particular examples. Right. so in that process with her it was just a spark, right? Like there was a enlightenment that I had in, in high school about wanting to learn, wanting to be more wanting to be better. And starting to learn from the times that I wasn’t right. Successful or things didn’t necessarily go my way. Right. How do you take those particular examples or, you know, those times and turn them into something that’s gonna then motivate you and make you stronger. Right. Mm-hmm so with her I continued like, you know, having this relationship, I went off to, you know, study at university and, you know, everybody, what do you wanna be? What are you studying at university?

Diana Speranza (10:10):

And again, for me, it was, what do I want to learn more about? Right. It wasn’t a matter of, this is what I wanna be, you know, like thoughts have gone through, like, I studied science in my first year university. So I had dentistry and I had some things on my mind, but it wasn’t a matter that I had a kind of ideal job or career that I wanted to do. It was about learning. And so that’s why I went off and, and, and and it was her and in a, in a series of conversations that I remember her having a, with not only with me, but with students in our class about, you know, life is this journey, right. A, a, a, a long journey of learning and becoming right. And in those moments is when I learn that, okay, that, that’s what I want for myself.

Diana Speranza (10:55):

I wanna continue to expand the things that I know, expand the experiences that I have, and, and eventually turn those into opportunities for other people. Right. And going off to university and studying, and then eventually going to teachers college and then landing myself, you know, a, a full-time teaching gig was so, you know, I was so grateful and so blessed to be able to, you know, do that, that, you know, it has been, I, I, I’m just gonna, I’m gonna switch gears for just a second and just say, yeah, a couple years ago, I was on a trip to New York city with a cousin of mine from Australia, my brother and my nephew. So my nephew at the time, I think was probably nine and were sitting in the airport on the way back you know, waiting for our flight to come back Toro.

Diana Speranza (11:43):

And he says to me, out of nowhere, Diana you know, what’s your ideal, what would be your ideal job, right? What would you love to be doing? And my answer was so quick and I responded to him, I am doing it, I’m doing it. And I really like, it was interesting for him to ask me that. And then, and then I kind of reflected on not only how great of a question that was for him to actually ask me, but how quickly I responded with that piece. Right. And, and it, and the reason I think for that is because not only the role of, you know, the vocation of an educator for me is so important, it’s this learning process and it never stops. It never stops. You’re learning from everybody around you, right. You’re learning from students, you’re learning from your colleagues. And and it’s been, you know, such a, a godsend to be able to, you know, to, to experience this. And, but my Ramona story gonna go back to.

Sam Demma (12:35):

It sounds good. I love the, I love the story about New York.

Diana Speranza (12:40):

He so let’s go back to the morning. So I go off to talk teachers college in teachers college. I’m in Australia actually. So I undergrad at U of T off to teachers college at the university of Western Sydney, just outta outside of Sydney, Australia. Nice. And in one of our courses, I can’t remember which one it was. We had an assignment and that assignment was kind of to reflect on a teacher who had inspired or touched you in some particular way that caused you to come to this particular moment, you know, being in the faculty event. And I did that right. Reflected on the fact that I know it’s, I don’t, I don’t need much time to kinda, I know exactly what woman that was in my life who had that impact. And so I took it a little step further.

Diana Speranza (13:23):

And as I was writing this reflection that we had to him before, for the course, I thought, you know what, I haven’t been in touch with miss Gorsky. How amazing may it be to be able to write her letter? So I wrote her a letter. And so I wrote her a letter saying, you know, we got this assignment in class, and this is what I was asked to do. And I just want you to know that this is the impact that you have had on my life, right? Mm. This is the inspiration that you may not really know that you were, but I want you to know this is who you were to me and put it all in the letter and off it went. So I get back from the faculty of ed. I proceed to go through, you know, I get, I, you know, I get a job quite quickly when I get back to Canada.

Diana Speranza (14:01):

And I go on to teach and I teach at St. Paul’s for seven years when I first, you know, graduated from teacher college and came and came back home. So seven years at St. Paul’s, eventually I end up at you know, I guess in, I guess, eight, the eight year of teaching. I end up at St. Margaret Deville in Branson. And so as department head of social science, I had applied to a job there and moved to another school knowing at that time only when I got into do the when I went in to have the interview that Ramona Gorsey was on staff. And I had heard that she was up at a school in Brampton. I just didn’t know which one it was. And so I was excited that I would eventually be on staff if I was successful in this interview with this woman.

Diana Speranza (14:46):

And so I become a, a, you know, a staff member at at St Margaret Jugo at the time. And just before the start of the school year, like we got together for like a series of meetings and like, you know, a day in August like a, a retreat and, and so on. And so I see her, she sees me, I’m like overwhelmed with emotion, and I go up to her this huge hug you know, and, and we are crying both of us. And she says to me I just got your letter and I’m thinking, what letter is she talking about? I just, cause it’s been years now, right. It’s been almost 10 years from the fact nine years from the time that I wrote that letter to the time that, you know, I’m having this moment with her, she goes, I got your letter.

Diana Speranza (15:32):

I said, when did you get this letter? Yeah. A long time ago. And she says, no, I got the letter 10 days ago, or last week. It was just like the week before. Right. Wow. And I said last week and she had, she didn’t have it at that moment. But when we met in September, she brought the actual letter in, it had been all over the place. She had moved from the time that I had, you know, written that letter. She had changes, she moved homes and I guess back and forth the post office, it had stamps, you know, markings and all over it. It looked like it had been through everything. And she had said to me, I just got this last week. I had just got this last week. And the like, wow, to me, that’s not chance. Yeah. That that happens.

Diana Speranza (16:14):

Right. Like, I mean and being mentored by Ramona Goby and having that opportunity now to be able to work as a colleague, it took me a while you know, to be able to work as a colleague with her because she was a huge inspiration to meet. Right. Yeah. And I know that a law of what I became as an educator was because of who she was. Right. And what, you know, what the process that, you know, she helped instill in me and that whole focus on the process, focus on the journey. Right. The outcome will come when the outcome is ready. Right. Like, I mean, it’s that development process and I’ve taken the out as a lifelong, like real lesson. Right. Like, I mean yeah, like I’m, there’s been other things in my life that I had to go through.

Diana Speranza (17:02):

Like I’ve had, I had a challenging illness a few years ago. And, and that too has been, been, had, has become part of the journey for me. Right. on ensure that you learn like these things are, I don’t wanna say they’re put on our plate. Right. Because a lot of what we achieve in life and a lot of things that we do are because of the decisions that we make because of the, you know, the choices that we make because of the roads or past we’ve we’ve chosen. But I, I wanna go back to that point that you made at the beginning, like, you know, it really is like out of the failure, out of the, you know, the lows in our life is where we, you know, oftentimes can do the most learning. Right. And and I’m hoping that that’s what I’m instilling in the students that I kind of, I come in contact with. Right.

Sam Demma (17:53):

Awesome. I love it. That’s such a good story. And it’s such a cool story because, you know, if we think about how many letters students have wrote to educators and teachers that didn’t find them, right. Like yours got through after nine years. Right. But there’s so many letters that kids probably write. And so many emails they try send, but sorry, teacher moves school. So their email bounced back. Sorry, we can’t, you know, there, I want you to think about this, like the educator listening. I want you to think that you probably have someone just like Diana when she was a student that you inspired, just like Ramona did that tried reaching out it to you and maybe couldn’t find you, you know, sometimes sometimes the teacher hears about it other times they, they, they might, they may never, but you know, the, the same goes, if a tree falls in the forest, it still makes noise. Right. So, you know, you’re still impacting the kid, whether, whether there’s a letter attached to it or not. But your story’s such a be example of fate. It’s like a, this is, I dunno how else to put it, right. Yeah. It’s just 10 days before you meet her in your school. That’s, that’s insane. Are you still in touch with Ramona today?

Diana Speranza (19:03):

So I am well, not that we contact each other, you know, daily or, or, you know, regularly. She lives in a, like, you know, in a smaller town. And I often visit that small town. Nice. And oftentimes we’ll connect on the streets right. Where, you know she’s you know, taking her walk and, you know, I’m going to my favorite place for coffee you know, and, and will meet on the, on the side of the street. So I have spoken to her a few times in over the pandemic just because my getaway place is to go country driving. Yes. You know, and head out her way. And so oftentimes I’ll, I’ll see her out there. But yeah, she’s absolutely, you know, a phenomenal individual and I’m so grateful to have had her and have her in my you know yeah, it’s just, it was great to be able to teach beside her. Right. Yeah. For the years when, when, when we were together at St. Louisville.

Sam Demma (20:03):

Oh, that’s awesome. And I, I mean, this, this interview gives you a reason to send her a link, maybe right. Exactly. Yes. Which is awesome. But shifting gears a tiny bit into what school looks like now, you know, you started education, I think you said 25, 26 years ago. Things probably look a little different this year. and maybe the end of last year. And I’m curious to know, you know, like what are some of the important things you think we should keep mind when it comes to educating students today? Like in today’s environment.

Diana Speranza (20:37):

Yeah. and that’s a big question.

Sam Demma (20:40):

Yeah. There’s, and there’s so many perspectives, but if you have one or two ideas, like yeah, yeah.

Diana Speranza (20:45):

Like it is very different, right. Like, I mean, it’s very different today. It just, at our school alone, we’ve got the majority of our kids are online versus physically in the building, even when they’ve got that choice to be back in the building. So we don’t have that. Right. so with, you know, with that being said just the not being connected and not being face to face is hard. Not having those, you know physical daily check-ins right. Like you’re doing that. Teachers are doing that online. But you know, kids are comfortable in their homes. You may not have your camera on you know, when you’re in a classroom if you’re used to the, you know, the way that a kid kind of you know, walks in and what they’re are like, you can tell if they’re not, well, that day body language you can ask that’s right.

Diana Speranza (21:32):

You can ask today, is everything all right today? You don’t have that. Right. So I think right now teachers are very concerned with, do they have a good sense of how their students are feeling right, because delivering material to they delivering content you know, and being able to challenge and engage kids I think, you know, teachers are good at making that switch. Okay. So now you’re not here in front of me, but I’m gonna have all these other ways of which I’m gonna be able to reach you and teachers are good at making, you know, planning and doing those things to be able to engage students, you know, now in a different, in a different way. But that checking in to make sure that they’re okay part right, is, is harder at, you know, when they’re not physically in front of you.

Diana Speranza (22:17):

I think that’s a big thing right now, and that’s also for us as administrators checking in on our staff. Right. Making sure that, you know, it’s very easy to go through this and, you know, you’re coming into work and, you know, yeah. I’m okay when you’re at, but are we really okay? Like, are we all really doing okay? Yeah. Like you’ve heard it, you know, many, a times over the pandemic, you know, call, you know, your loved ones, call your friends, check in on them. Like the same thing. Like, you know, we’re doing stuff like, you know, we try to make contact in the building during the day when we were off, like, you know, when we were, everybody was online learning and there weren’t students in the building or staff in the building, you try to do that, pick up the phone, you know, give a staff member of call, find out how they’re doing.

Diana Speranza (22:55):

But it is, it is extremely difficult, but like I also, I also must say that, you know, education has, has needed a little bit of a, a change, right. A shake like yes, shake revolution. I, I, I keep saying, you know, education needs a little bit of, of a revolution and, and it’s starting to happen. Right. Yeah. And it’s happening, happening in the, in the way of the forced inclusion of multidimensions of technology, right? Various technology the forced, you know, revolution of ensuring that our curriculum is inclusive for everyone, right? So there’s a shake up that’s happening. And to me, this excites me as an educator. It excites me that, you know, these are things that are going to be happening because ultimately these are things that are good for kids. So if I, anything that we can do to improve the educational experience for kids I’m all about supporting that, right.

Diana Speranza (23:54):

So as much as it’s been difficult and you know, sometimes you’ll hear people say, I just can’t wait till we go back to normal. I don’t wanna see us go back to normal edge education, the way that it was prior to this happening. Right. Mm-hmm there needs to be, we need to come out of this situation improved. We need to come out better people. We need to come out better educators. Right. and we, we, the, that’s my, you know, hope that as we’re going through these things and learning more and they don’t become, they’re no longer, oh, this is a new way. It becomes the way then I think it opens and it creates a path for continuing to evolve. Right. Cause the question you really asked me was, you know, how do I, you know, because I’ve been in education for so long, it must look so different.

Diana Speranza (24:41):

Right. And the fact is up until this, it really didn’t look that D it didn’t really look different from, you know, it didn’t really even look different from when I was in school really. Right. like if I look at other industries they all change other in yeah. And, and education, there was a lot of it that was still very similar. And over the years, like, I mean, you, you jump on the train and you make the change that need to happen. But I think this has really caused us to have to make some real, real big changes that will ultimately have a, a greater impact.

Sam Demma (25:20):

I believe that so true. Like my, my parents used to, my dad used to lecture me on the side of the soccer, her field, Sam, there was a guy open on the right side of the field. Why didn’t you pass him the ball? I’m like dad. And I’m like, I’ll do what I wanna do. And he always just, he always used to tell me, he’s like, but you don’t understand when you’re in the game. You don’t see the things that I see. And it’s a whole analogy of when you’re in the picture, you don’t see the frame or when you’re in the frame, you don’t see the picture. Not sure the analogy, then it’s kind of true with, like, with work, you get into the grind of things and, you know, you just continuously do the, the things that work or provide a great opportunity and at no fault to education at all.

Sam Demma (26:01):

But I think you’re right. Like the challenge is leading to growth, new questions, new opportunities shaking things up, shaking things down. Like, I think it’s a super cool shift. And I know like your school has so many different clubs that have come to fruition and, you know, you’re putting a huge emphasis on student voice. What are some of the initiatives that are going on in the school right now that, you know, maybe Angelo and Jason and yourself kind of collaborated on and all the other amazing teachers that I don’t know about just yet, but I will soon.

Diana Speranza (26:32):

Our, our school is extremely vibrant right. In the area of extracurriculars. And even during this pandemic you know, all of these things are still happening. They’re not physically necessarily happening in the building. You know, our kids aren’t gathered after school in the building, but they’re gathered online. I can tell you that they’re in zoom meetings and team and, you know, and and meets, and, you know, they’re in places where there’s wonderful things that are happening. So we’ve got quite a few you know, ongoing committees or, you know student groups. So you got a student kind of leadership program, right? Well, not program, but like a student leadership group. And it’s called castle. And basically what it stands for is partner lambic, student leadership experience. Nice. and and, and under the umbrella, there are series of different of groups.

Diana Speranza (27:18):

So we’ve got our student council, we’ve got our core and chaplaincy group. We’ve got brave which is all about kind of anti-bullying and mental health awareness. We’ve got our black history month, we’ve got our equity and diversity ambassadors. We have spectrum, which is our LGBTQ group. So we’ve got I’m hoping I’m not missing any groups. And then that’s from other things that are running, right. This is just kind of our, our big, our leadership groups. And all those, you know, groups are so vibrant right now and, and still working on things. And so what kind of things are they working on? Our, so we’ve black history, our black history committee, cuz we are in the month of, of February has been working on a series of of not events, but you know, ideas.

Diana Speranza (28:10):

They put out through social media, a number of, of different things celebrating black excellence. And so they’ve kind of the group has gone and looked at. They’ve wanted to kind of bring it up to today. Like oftentimes in black history members were studying people from the past and kids, their, their voice has been saying like, you know, tell us about the people today that are doing things like, let’s talk a little bit about, I love that what people are doing today. And so this way I can feel like I can relate. Yeah, I can do what that person’s doing or I can see myself having that. So they’ve taken kind of black, excellent through the decades. Right. And so we started off with black once they started from the beginning to just 2000 to 2020. Right.

Diana Speranza (28:48):

So they took that time. And I think yesterday we just published the fifties to seventies. So on our Instagram, on our Twitter feed for Cardinal Ambrosek, we put that out there with some hashtags, which is, you know, the hashtag remembering black excellence. And, and yes, that’s what they’re doing right now with that. They’ve also putting together the focus students want to be heard, right. Mm-Hmm all, everybody, everybody wants to be heard. That’s a human thing. Right. We just wanna be hurt. And so the they’re focusing on an exhibit, they’re wanting to create a students created exhibit where teachers would kind of almost like a museum where teachers would walk through this exhibit and hearing their voices. Right. So it would be images of them their voices explaining their particular feelings about, you know, racism or inequalities.

Diana Speranza (29:46):

Hmm. You know, and, and it’s called, hear us, can you hear us? Right. Interesting. And so, and that will be for, you know, the adults in the building for teachers in our adults to kind of hear this is what students are feeling about the experience they’ve had in society and have they haven’t always been open, right? Yeah, yeah. That they want to be able to now voice and, and be heard we had an anti-black racism campaign. So Angelo was, you know, the lead on that. And we started that think in November. And we’re continuing they, I guess in December we started the of 100 days of anti-black racism and posting to social media, there were announcements and reflections, and that was quite a an eye opening experience, I think for a lot of our kids.

Diana Speranza (30:35):

And I think the, the best part that’s come out of that is that kids are feeling still to be able to share their stories. Cause they know that people are listening. Right. And, and that’s our greatest thing in education, right? Like, I mean, I’ve, I’ve been a believer. I continue to believe that every kid should be able to come to school and know that there’s one adult in the building, that’s got their back, right. That there’s somebody that they can go to somebody they can trust somebody that they can go to if they need some mentorship. And if they’re feeling, if we amplify that by saying that there are multiple people in this building that you can go to and you can trust because you know, you’re being heard and you’re being seen then we’ve done our job, right. Because at the end of the day, yes, education is important. And you know, the courses in getting credits and graduating are important, but it’s also important on how we make students feel. Right. And the connections that the, that we ensure that they have.

Sam Demma (31:31):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s so true. I mean, if we think about action and taking action, it all stems from your beliefs and emotions. So if a student doesn’t feel safe, they’re gonna take actions that relate to the feeling of not feeling safe and that will lead to a specific result if you change their beliefs and they start to believe, no, there are people I can talk to in this school that care about me. And like you said, who wanna support me and help me, that would lead to a more empowering emotion, which would lead to more positive action, which would lead to the better result, hopefully. So I agree. I think like caring for the person is so important aside from the curriculum. And I think it’s really cool that the school is putting a huge focus on that. I wanna shift this interview slightly for a second and ask you to ask your younger self. So if you were speaking to, you know, Diana from year one, as a teacher, what would you have told your younger self, knowing what you know now about education, about teaching advice for yourself when you were getting into this role?

Diana Speranza (32:36):

I’d have lots to say to her because I have seen, I’ve seen that, you know, the transition. Yeah. I, I have seen that. Well, it’s call it progression, right? Yeah. I’d say don’t be so hard on yourself. Right. That’s what I say to her. And lighten up a little bit. That’s what I’d say. Those would be the main things I say. And the reason why I’d say them is because as a, a, you know, a new educator, once you come into this field and I think it’s, I’m sure it’s true in many jobs is that you’re so worried about doing it. Right. Right. And so you’re so worried about ensuring that, you know, your, your lessons are planned to ITT and it’s organized and there’s, there’s no little wiggle room that a kid can’t get off topic. And, you know, you’re concerned about the way you’re marking.

Diana Speranza (33:19):

You’re not necessarily giving second chances because this is the way that it is. Right. Mm-hmm . And and I was fortunate like, well, I was fortunate to know that for me, that transition happened a lot after having hi, having had my own kids. Right. So you know, I was a teacher for, I don’t know how many years before I had kids, maybe let’s call it five years. I actually then had, had a child five, six years that having a child then became another piece for me to add on because now every kid in front of me was somebody’s kid. Not that I didn’t realize that before that. But it made me really realize that after having had my own. Right. so I, I would say that’s what I would say. I’d say kind of like get to know the learners that are in front of you get to know those kids.

Diana Speranza (34:05):

And, and I think I did that, but not at all. As well as I believe I did that as I continued on that journey. Right. that’s what I’d, I’d say, you know, the rules need to be followed right. You need to be doing those things. It’s very, very important, but I’d also say you know, don’t be so hard in yourself and really get to know the kids, because once you get to know the kids, get to know the learner, then you’re better at doing everything. Cause you know, who you’re preparing for, what you’re doing. You know, you’re able to make your assessments and you’re, and their material, you know, targeted towards what their interests are. And so that’s, that’s what I, you know, would’ve said to Diana, you know when she was starting off.

Sam Demma (34:53):

I love that. I love that. That’s awesome. And if someone’s listened into this conversation has been slightly inspired or, or feels the need to reach out to you and have a conversation about something you shared or something you said, what would be the best way for another educator listening to this, to reach out to you?

Diana Speranza (35:11):

So they could reach me at my email address at diana.speranza@dpcdsb.org. They could follow me on Twitter or on Instagram. And on Instagram and Twitter, I’m there by my first name and my last name. So you find me there, my first name, last name and yeah, I’d be you know, happy to engage in conversation in regards to, you know anything that we talked about here today.

Sam Demma (35:47):

Cool. Diana, thank you so much for doing this. I appreciate you sharing some of your story into education, some of your philosophies on education. Yeah, I really appreciate it. I look forward to staying in touch and watching the cool stuff that continues to unfold at Cardinal Ambrozic.

Diana Speranza (36:01):

Thank you so much, Sam. Thank you for having me on your program. And thank you for having this, you know, this, this podcast for people to be able to kind of join and listen and, and share ideas. Thank you so much.

Sam Demma (36:13):

You’re welcome. Talk soon. And there you have it. Another amazing evening guest, an amazing interview on the high performing educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating in 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 wanna 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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