About Maddie Campbell
Maddie Campbell (@maddiecamps) is a life-long student leader and learner who found a way to turn her love of activities, organizing and community impact into a career. Born and raised in the Waterloo Region, Maddie has been connected to her community from day one, particularly through sports and various charitable organizations. Choosing to stay close to her community, Maddie attended the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Sport Business (2019). Along her student leadership journey, Maddie has served as a Co-Prime Minister at her high school, V.P. of Internal Affairs for the University of Waterloo’s Applied Health Sciences Undergraduate Members (AHSUM), Logistics Coordinator for Applied Health Sciences Orientation Week and various event coordinating roles in between.
Maddie is the current Operations Coordinator for the Canadian Student Leadership Association, a national not-for-profit organization that provides leadership resources, programs and opportunities for youth leaders across Canada, including the Canadian Student Leadership Conference (CSLC). Before joining CSLA as a staff member, Maddie was a member of the organizing committee for the 2017 Canadian Student Leadership Conference hosted in Waterloo. As the only full-time staff person for CSLA, Maddie’s journey has come full circle as she attended CSLC 2013 (Montague, PEI) as a student leader and representative for her school.
Maddie can be described as someone who always has a smile on their face, a coffee in hand and her fanny pack nearby. In her spare time, you’ll likely find Maddie at a hockey arena cheering on her favourite team or on the bench as a minor hockey trainer.
**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. In today’s episode, we are showcasing another high-performing educator, Maddie Campbell. She is a graduate of the university of Waterloo. She studied recreation and sport business, and she currently works with the Canadian student leadership association. She has a huge passion for events, sports, student leadership, and community impact, which is all so evident from today’s episode. She is skilled in sponsorship, communications, planning, event planning, community outreach and event management. And in today’s episode, we talk about the teachers and educators in her life that impacted her what it means to be a leader and how you as a teacher can apply those same lessons to your own students. This is a huge pleasure and honor to have interviewed Maddie. She is doing amazing work with Dave and everyone from the Canadian Student Leadership Association. And I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I enjoyed recording it. I’ll see you on the other side, Maddie. Welcome to the high performing educators podcast. I’m super excited to have you here. We’ve met a couple times in person and virtually, and it’s great to have you.
Maddie Campbell (01:14):
Thank you so much for having me
Sam Demma (01:16):
Do me a quick favor. I can definitely intro you, but I would love for you to explain to our audience who you are, what you do and what got you started with the work that you do with youth.
Maddie Campbell (01:28):
Well, so my name is Maddie Campbell and I am a recent university grad. But before then I was a lifelong student leader. I am the operations coordinator for the Canadian student leadership association, which is a fancy word for saying, I have a lot of hats and they do a lot of things. So everything from our programming to some more day-to-day things trying to come up with new ideas on social media. I am often behind the scenes on a lot of those things, how I got started in my role and in student leadership, like I said, I’m a lifelong student leader when I was in high school. I’m from Waterloo, Ontario and went to Sir John A McDonald secondary school. I joined our Confederation program at the end of my grade 10 year. So going into grade 11, took our leadership class and then ran for co prime minister and became co prime minister of my school in grade 12.
Maddie Campbell (02:24):
And from there, I had the opportunity to go to the CSLC, which is the Canadian student leadership conference, which is our main event per CSLA. So that’s really where it started. And then as I got through university, it was found found it difficult to find my place in school. And in extracurriculars, there are people who are lifelong athletes and artists and all that kind of stuff. And I was interested in a lot of it, but I wasn’t a professional. But student leadership always felt like home and event planning and community building. And I grew in a house like that. And so started to volunteer a little bit more and got lucky enough that CSLC was going to be hosted at my high school S jam in 2017. So two years before that, I said, Hey, like I want to volunteer. I want to do something. It actually turned into a co-op job for me for over a year. And then after that CSLA was looking for some help and they said, Hey, what are you doing? And we started working from there and it turned into a full-time job when I graduated the university. So that’s what got me here. It’s just a whole lot of leadership events stacked together. But got me, my, my job in student leadership.
Sam Demma (03:40):
That’s amazing. I’m curious to know when you were back in high school and this isn’t too, too long ago for you, maybe for Dave Conklin or someone else, it was, but you can, you can think back when you were in high school, did you have some teachers or educators in your life that made a huge impact on you? Like literally when I asked this question, what names pop in your mind? And I’m curious to know what it was that those educators or teachers did for you that made all the difference.
Maddie Campbell (04:06):
So there’s Def there’s a few there’s three. The first I would say is Sandy Miller. So he’s now a vice principal in the school board, but he was my leadership teacher in grade 12. And I learned so much from him and I can’t even describe all of the things. But he is a huge mentor for me. He believed in what I could do as a student leader. And then further beyond when I was out of high school and what I loved about Sandy and the way he taught us was he treated us like adults. There was never an opportunity for you to kind of like hide behind a bigger person or a bigger leader. He always saw the potential in everyone. And he would, if you were sitting behind the scenes, he’d say go do something. And he would get people moving and motivated.
Maddie Campbell (04:54):
And he always saw the bigger picture of what we could be and what we could do. So Sandy, for sure. He is someone who I still connect with regularly about my job and what I’m doing and leadership and what he’s doing. And I think he misses the leadership teaching side of things as an administrator, my other leadership teacher in high school Greg Todd unreal. He came over to our school the same time that I started in the leadership program. So he actually joined our leadership retreat where as at the integrates Penn, he was coming in to teach for grade 11 and no one had met him yet. So he was like the new kid in town. I was sort of starting leadership late. A lot of grade tens will take it in grade 11 and I was in 11 taking it in 11.
Maddie Campbell (05:41):
And so we met at this retreat and we really connected and then I ended up being in his class. So just kind of my leadership base. And then I had a really awesome coach in high school. Her name is Lori Montgomery, and she is the most energetic person you’ll ever meet. She’s a kick-butt coach. And by that, I mean she rocks Angela also kick your butt to make you do what you need to do. And she was just an excellent leader on and off the field. She made sure that people were paying attention at all times. And that it wasn’t just about where you watching the game. It was where you watching the skill. Were you watching the practice? Were you listening to everything and doing those next steps? So all of those people, I still talk to pretty regularly especially when I can go into visit at the school. But those are three teachers who really impacted me in high school.
Sam Demma (06:36):
That’s amazing and very diverse. We have a coach and then two leadership teachers. And you, you remembered their names as if you hadn’t forgotten for the moment, which is phenomenal for me, there’s a teacher named Mike loud foot. That just sticks in my mind. Whenever someone asks me the same question. And if there’s anything you took from the way they taught you and you try and embody it in your own teaching and your own work with youth today, what would like one thing be?
Maddie Campbell (07:04):
I think all three of them just had this characteristic of never being afraid. So never be afraid to take that next step or to try something. Oftentimes when I think of those people, I think of just go do it and ask for forgiveness later. Don’t if it’s something that you aren’t sure, but it needs to get done, go do it make, make the right choice. Like they had the faith in us as students to do the right thing which was huge. And then we then were able to have that faith in ourselves that we knew how to make those big decisions. So if I could say anything and trust your gut and just go do it. And that was how they led us. And I think it’s a huge part of my leadership now.
Sam Demma (07:50):
That’s so awesome. The reason I ask is because so many educators right now are afraid and burnt out and not sure what to do and what’s going on. There’s so many challenges being presented to everyone in education, including yourself and everyone from CSLA because of COVID-19. What are some things that you think an educator should be focused on right now? To overcome these challenges?
Maddie Campbell (08:14):
It’s so different. Like today, as we’ve talked, like I should be at CSLC right now, which is our national conference was supposed to start today. We be getting ready for our opening ceremonies. And I think that if anything, I just hope that teachers can remember that this isn’t forever. It seems like it. I, I get that. I feel like we’ve been in this for so long and now it just looks longer and longer. But the bottom line is your kids are still your kids and your students are still the people that they would have been this year, but how do we adjust for them? They still have that spirit. They still have that hunger to learn about leadership and about everything else going on in their school. And yeah, the world has changed, but they’re seeing that too. It’s not just you experiencing that change, it’s your students. So how can you change together? How can you have a conversation about what works for you and them and what are, what are their goals? What were their goals before COVID in their school situation? How do you make those happen? Because I bet you, there’s a way it’s going to be a lot different and a lot of outside the box thinking, but there’s a way and we’re getting there.
Sam Demma (09:28):
That’s awesome. And you mentioned CSLC, I was watching the video on the front page of your new website, the recap promo video. I think it’s from a few years ago, got me super pumped up. Those conferences, change lives, change students’ lives. The speakers come, they change students’ lives. Can you share with us a story of a student who might’ve been directly impacted by something you did or something someone did at a conference and you got to witness it firsthand. And for privacy sake, you don’t have to share the name of the student, or you can just change it. But I’m really curious to know. I think it’s those stories when we tell them from a place of just vulnerability and honesty, that it really inspires educators to remember why they do what they do and to remind them why it’s so important.
Maddie Campbell (10:14):
So I actually talked to a student yesterday for a totally separate project. And I said, I think you went to CSLC and my mistake. And she’s like, Nope, I was there. I’m actually from like where CSLC was happening. So it was close by, but instead of being a delegate, I got asked to be like a, a spirit leader. And so she was very hesitant about that. Would it change her experience, which you still get the same thing out of it? And since then CSLC has just propelled her to think outside the box and do so many more things. So starting her own initiatives for her community applying for individual grants to support projects in her community, she just had this, a list of things she’s like, oh, can I tell you about this? And then we would keep talking to them, oh, I forgot about this.
Maddie Campbell (11:04):
I got to tell you this. And so to see less than a year’s impact on a student who is now in grade 11 and still has two more years of high school left, that’s huge for them to already be doing all these things, being so passionate about them. And that started at CSLC was the first experience that that student had. And since then they’ve looked for other opportunities and how they can grow and make an impact. And I think that was really reflective of the message that students got at CSLC last year, but at every year
Sam Demma (11:39):
That’s amazing and a big part of the celebrations and the conferences are the speakers you bring in. I’m sure you’ve sat in on dozens upon dozens upon dozens, upon dozens of speeches by speakers. I’m curious to know there’s educators listening who want to bring more inspirational messages into their school. How do they choose someone that’s a good fit? What do you think some of the most important attributes or characteristics of a good presenter and speaker?
Maddie Campbell (12:05):
I think you definitely need to know your student audience to start. So what are your students looking for or what point in their leadership journey are your students at? Are they your first time students who you’re at your first leadership retreat or your first meeting, and you’re trying to get them bought into this whole concept of leadership, or are they a grade 11 or 12 student who’s now moving further into their education career or they’re moving into a job or whatever it takes them on their path after high school, how do you prepare them for that next stage in life? And so I think knowing what your students need is important to get back from a speaker, we are so lucky that the students that we get to work with and the Canadian speakers that we work with, they mesh so easily on so many different levels. I think that when we bring Canadian stories to Canadian students, there’s a real connect there. It’s so relatable. All of our speakers have been in these students’ shoes. And I think that also is a really big benefit. So bringing someone who even is from your province or territory, who kind of knows the ground, knows the area to work with your students, I think is really cool. If you can have that relatability.
Sam Demma (13:23):
That’s awesome. That’s really cool. And is there any speaker who you’ve seen at various conferences that sticks out to you as like, wow, that was amazing. Maybe someone you saw in the past at CSLC or who is someone who you kind of really resonated with and why?
Maddie Campbell (13:37):
So the first, not the first, one of the first speakers I ever saw as a student with Ian Tyson and Ian came to our leadership retreat when I was in, at the end of my grade 10 year and I was just blown away. I was like, oh my gosh, like, yeah, I need that energy all the time. Like that was just great. And like I said, he’s Canadian speaker. He could connect with our group of students because he knew exactly what our leadership program was built on and what we were trying to do. And I had seen speakers from the states or, or elsewhere in the world before that. And it just didn’t have the same impact, you know, that they’re telling a story, but you also know that the school culture and climate is so much different in America than it, than it can be in Canada and specifically Ontario. So Ian was someone who stood out to me and then in my grade, 12 year, he presented at CSLC. And so I signed up for that workshop and that was like, hi, I saw you like here. And then and now we kind of get to work together on different projects. So it’s come full circle for me. But Ian is for sure a standard speaker for me and, and my path in leadership, but I think for a lot of students
Sam Demma (14:48):
Yeah, that’s amazing. And you mentioned earlier that, you know, you ever first a attendee of these conferences and now you’re working for the company, which is awesome. And a lot of your work is putting on multiple hats, doing tons of different jobs. I’m curious to know with all the different ideas you’re posting on the blog and sharing on social media, what ideas about increasing virtual engagement or increasing student engagement right now have piqued your interest or you think are worth sharing with other educators?
Maddie Campbell (15:18):
I think for the most part, what we’re trying to do, and it’s, it’s nothing precise, but I think we’re trying to throw a lot of mud at the wall and see what sticks and go from there. It’s such a different year for us. Like I said, we’re supposed to be at CSLC right now. And I would say over 50% of my portfolio is running in-person events. And so now to transition that to, okay, how do we just share these ideas so that students have that resource to do more in their school? It’s a huge challenge. So we are working with teachers who we’ve worked with for years and years and saying, Hey, like, have you tried this in your classroom? Or are you thinking about trying this in your classroom? If so, can you write it up for us, send us a picture and we’ll put it on the blog.
Maddie Campbell (16:02):
If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But we were so lucky, especially having Dave who has been doing this for so, so long, he went back into the archives of newsletters and he pulled activities and ideas and events, and he has in his own headset. Okay. Like, how do we make this work for COVID? How do we make it work for virtual? How do we make it work at a distance? So that from the blog perspective, we’re just, we’re just throwing everything up that we can find. And hopefully it’ll benefit someone from a social media standpoint. We have pretty curated schedule. We try and mix in some light stuff with some heavier stuff. In terms of we do like a wisdom Wednesday. So we work Brad Dixon, who is our social media person. He’s a teacher in Calgary.
Maddie Campbell (16:53):
He will find an article in a picture to go with it and he’ll share it and say like, this is great. Here’s some key points read this article might you might learn something you might not. But then we also share like motivational quotes. We repost things that other schools are doing. So kind of like the blog, but on a social media point, if something happened across Canada this week, we’ll go find it. And on Friday we’ll repost it. I think those get a pretty good uptake. And then we’re also taking words, ideas from students. So if students are connecting with us saying, Hey, like we’re running this in our school, can you share it? Absolutely. if students have their own initiatives that they’re running like that student, I was talking about, who I actually spoke to yesterday, they DMD us on Instagram and told us all about their new initiative. And I said, yep, like, that’s great. We’re here to promote what students are doing. Especially students who are taking the initiative to reach out and say, oh my gosh, I’m doing something so awesome. Please share it. And we have that platform to get it all across Canada.
Sam Demma (17:58):
That’s awesome. Yeah. I love that. And Dave was telling me about some ideas on a previous episode in relation to shoe boxes and the shoe box parade. I don’t know if you heard about that one. He was telling me some really interesting out there ideas that I thought were really cool, but if any ideas stuck out in your mind, I’d love to hear them. I don’t know if you have one that pops to mind.
Maddie Campbell (18:21):
The, one of my favorite ideas that we featured in a newsletter, I want to say three years ago. I believe it was out of Kindersley, Saskatchewan, and they did this fundraiser where they went to their local dump and they picked up old toilets and they repainted them and then they would just drop them on people’s front lawns. And so this campaign was called flush away cancer, and you had to pay money, donate money to their campaign, to get the toilet taken off your lawn. So you could pay $50 to get it taken off and then, or you could pay a hundred dollars and then go put it on someone else’s lawn. And I think when I think about that, and I think about what’s happening now kind of weird, but it would totally work in a pandemic situation. You’re outside, you’re far away. You don’t really have to be near someone or sick closer than six feet away from someone you can handle your donations online. But that was one of the first activities I, I remember reading about in our newsletter when I got more involved in the association and it just stuck. I thought it was so funny and so impactful. And they raised a lot of money when they did it.
Sam Demma (19:34):
That’s a brilliant idea. No, no idea is a bad idea also is can lead to amazing things. I think that’s a general theme. Whenever I asked that question with these interviews a more internal question for yourself, what keeps you motivated? Things are difficult. They’re different right now. Like you said, a lot of your portfolio is about in-person events. The first couple of weeks back in March, the week of March 13th, you were probably in need of a toilet, you know, like, like, oh my God, what am I supposed to do here? And everyone’s just going crazy. You fill in the blank and I’m curious to know what keeps you going? Is there an impact that you have that you’ve seen that you had on other people that just reminds you why you do what you do? A lot of educators and people who work in education might be burnt out right now?
Maddie Campbell (20:23):
I definitely feel the burnout every once in a while when it comes to programming in a normal year. So like after a CSLC, I’m like Kim I’m done for, for four or five days and by day five, I normally get a cold. And then I’m really down and out. So this has been different in terms of being at home and not seeing a lot of people as I, it is for everybody. What keeps motivated is how much freedom I have in my role. So yes, there are things that need to get done every day or every week. Yes, we have priorities for the year. We have to figure out what programs are replacing. CSLC how we’re going to make horizon leadership conferences happen this year. We pivoted in COVID pretty quickly to develop an online program, but in between all that, I also have the ability to say, Hey, let’s try this, or let’s do this.
Maddie Campbell (21:16):
The, the fact that I have that space to be creative in my role is what keeps me motivated because I’ll have a day where a light bulb will go off and I’ll text Dave frantically and say, Hey, like, what about this? Like, can we try this? What do you think about this? And he’ll, he’ll just fill me and he’d be like, oh, the light bulbs are on, like, the gears are turning today. And I’m like, yes. And so those moments, those light bulb moments, keep me going in what we’re doing. And then when we can come full circle and maybe the light bulbs actually been screwed in somewhere, that’s what makes it worth it. So when I go back in my notes and I’m, I’m preparing for a meeting right now, and I went through the agenda of our meeting in may. So this is two months after things really kind of went to a halt. And just our notes on talking about the development of our student leadership certification program. We basically presented a bare bones idea in may. And we said, level one of this four level program, we have a draft ready, but it was not ready yet. And today we have all four levels ready and done and out to the world and over a hundred students enrolled in the program. So to see stuff comes full circle, like that is what keeps me going.
Sam Demma (22:32):
That’s awesome. That’s so cool. And if any educator is listening right now and they just want to reach out, have a conversation, bounce, some ideas around where can they reach out to you, Maddie?
Maddie Campbell (22:44):
The easiest way to get ahold of me is my email which is email@example.com. But you can also reach out to us through our Instagram page, which is @canadianstudentleaders. There’s a few of us who are monitoring that, but for the most part, I think I’m the one who answers the messages on a regular basis. It’s kind of my responsibility because we have a teacher who’s in that role as well. So while they’re busy teaching, I can take the wheel on the social media side of things. So if you send us a message on there, we’ll definitely get connected and figure out the best way to have a chat from there.
Sam Demma (23:23):
Awesome. Matt, it’s been a huge pleasure. Thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educators show.
Maddie Campbell (23:28):
Appreciated. Thank you for having me
Sam Demma (23:31):
There. You have it, the full interview with Maddie Campbell. I hope you enjoyed it and took some notes. There was so much to take away from this amazing interview. Maddie had so much to offer and as always, if you are an educator who was enjoying these interviews and you personally have something to share with your fellow colleagues and other educators, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get your insights and ideas on the podcast for everyone to hear and use. And if you know somebody who might be a good fit as a guest, please also email me and nominate them to come on the show because we’re always looking for more amazing educators to talk to. Anyways, I’ll see you on the next episode. Talk soon.
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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.