Scott Mclnnis – Leadership Teacher and Teacher Librarian at Selkirk Secondary School

Scott Mclnnis - Leadership Teacher and Teacher Librarian at Selkirk Secondary School
About Scott Mclnnis

Scott Mclnnis is the Leadership Teacher and Teacher Librarian at Selkirk Secondary School.  Scott is passionate about helping students appreciate the fulfillment in helping themselves and their community at large.  When Scott is not in the classroom you can find him outdoors, moving his body and doing something physical.  

Connect with Scott: Email

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Resources Mentioned

Selkirk Secondary School

Adam Grant (Author and Thinker)

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 is Scott Mclnnis. Scott is the leadership and teacher librarian at Selkirk Secondary School. He is passionate about helping students appreciate the fulfillment in helping themselves and their community. Scott reached out about doing some programs with his leadership class and school community. We built a great relationship and it was an honor and a privilege to interview him today on the podcast. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Scott, welcome to the high performing educator. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself for the educators who are tuning in?

Scott Mclnnis (00:50):
Sure. Sam, thanks again for the invitation thrilled to be here. I, have enjoyed meeting you and having discussions about what you do for kids in schools and yeah, just thrilled to little bit more about with you about that today. So yeah, my name is Scott Mclnnis. I teach at Selkirk secondary school in Kimberly, British Columbia. I teach at grade 10, 11 and 12 combined leadership class. And I’m also the teacher librarian here. So I deal a lot with grade 12 careers, getting them prepped for university academic study blocks independent study courses, things like that. So a bit of a mixed bag. Yeah.

Sam Demma (01:30):
And what, what got you into education? Tell me a little bit more about your own childhood growing up, going to school and what led you down this path?

Scott Mclnnis (01:38):
Sure. Sure. it’s probably my earliest memory of being drawn into education was I, I I got involved in ski instructing when I, when I was living in my hometown in Ontario, just outside of Peterborough. And I remember I was, I was 15 years old and, and after getting my, my level one certification, they kind of thrown me to the Wolf, the, with sort of 15 or 16, four year old kids. And, you know, having just to come up with personal strategies of how to manage those kids, keep them busy, keep them safe, all that stuff. I, I just, I realized that, you know, not only that we could, we could also have a great time. I just, I, I kind of knew back then that I had a bit of a knack perhaps for with, with kids specifically.

Scott Mclnnis (02:29):
I, you know, after that, I, I, you know, admittedly was kind of a lost late teen and early 20 person. I went to university hoping to become a, an airline pilot but you know con enough nine 11 happened kind of the first week of, of my schooling. And so I went, you know, a couple years at university, not really knowing what I wanna do, studying history and other humanities courses that I was interested in and yeah, finished my degree. I had all my roommates and my friends were enrolled in an education program at that time. So they were kind of, they had their plans set and were moving forward to becoming teachers where I really didn’t have a plan. You know, I, I finished my undergraduate degree at ni university in north bay, Ontario. I, and I, I worked for a little bit kind of, kind of worked you know, more in the trades just kind of as a laborer and, and, and sort of just, you know, passing time, I guess, so to speak, trying to figure out where my niche was in life.

Scott Mclnnis (03:33):
And then I, I took an opportunity and kind of through caution the wind and, and decided to go to South Korea to teach English. I had a couple of friends over in Asia that were teaching and said, it was a great time. It was, you know, adventurous, you made good money. So I thought, you know I’ll give it a try. And I went over there working in an elementary school. They had a big influx at the time the government of South Korea was implementing having a native speaker and every public in the country. So yeah, I took a full advantage of that and just had a wonderful experience. You know, some of the best memories of my life are, are over in South Korea. I stayed there for two years. Really got my feet wet as an educator.

Scott Mclnnis (04:14):
Yeah. I came back, took my education degree again at Ning. And following that, I, I moved from Ontario here to British Columbia, again, sort of the same idea, sort of following a, a job opportunity at a small independent school here in Kimberly where I was teaching music and general studies to sort of kindergarten to grade six. An opportunity came shortly thereafter to become an administrator. So I was principal to school know by the time I was in my early thirties there which was again an incredible experience as an educator. And then I just decided to you know, sort of spread my wings a little bit and ventured into the public system where I became high school educator. So you know, at the secondary level, I’ve only been here for sort of three, four years, but I really love the love, the experience. I feel like it’s a different kind of energy. I didn’t have so much Gusto, I suppose, for you know, putting on snow pants and tightening boots and things as I did for sort of the intellectual challenges that, that high school afforded. I just, I just found it was sort of a change for me personally, that I needed. So yeah, I’m really happy. I made that choice. And here we are today.

Sam Demma (05:22):
Do you remember any of the, the Korean you learned while you were there?

Scott Mclnnis (05:25):
You know what, that’s such a good question. And there’s a, a great gentleman here. That’s a business owner in Kimberly that’s Korean, and I’ve been trying to speak a little bit more with him, cuz it was, you know, this is 12 years ago and I can still read and write, okay. It’s a very, it’s a kind of language that makes a lot a sense to read and write it. It’s very fanatic. But my speaking, I did admittedly kind of lose it and I’ve, I’ve been trying to practice with this gentleman, just gentleman young which has been a ton of fun. He, he get a, he gets a kick outta me, so yeah, trying to, trying to get back into it cause I really, I really don’t wanna abandon it. Totally. So no, that’s been a fun process as well. That’s awesome.

Sam Demma (06:04):
That’s so cool. Yeah. And you’ve, you’ve done so many different roles in schools, you know, not only different roles, but different locations, Ontario, BC, Korea. What do you enjoy the most about the teaching profession? Like what keeps you hopeful and motivated and inspired to show up every day and continue doing what you’re doing?

Scott Mclnnis (06:24):
You know what, I, that’s such a great question. I ask myself that a lot and I think it changes you know, it has evolved as I’ve become you know developed my career I suppose, but you know, now it’s definitely trying to help kids to make a difference and to, to, you know, set kids, especially kids that are vulnerable onto the right path in life and, and trying not to have them slip under the cracks a little bit. You know, that’s, that’s how I spend the majority of my time is going into my way to make sure that you know, I know that those kids have a tough home life or you know, they just have had bad breaks in life or they don’t have all the opportunities that most of the other kids have. I try to put forth as much energy as I can into helping them succeed.

Scott Mclnnis (07:12):
And for me that that’s the ultimate passion and enjoyment I get is, is helping other people you know, before I think it was, you know, as a younger man in my late twenties, it was more, you know, setting myself up for a career, maybe making money, buying a house. It was, it was more personal development in my, you know, just sort of setting myself up in general life where now is it’s, it’s all about the enjoyment of helping others. That’s where I find, you know, the meaning and passion of the whole thing. And I hope that continues until the, the day I retire.

Sam Demma (07:44):
Yeah, that’s awesome. And that kind of makes sense as to why you teach leadership as well. Right.

Scott Mclnnis (07:49):
It does. Yeah, it does. And it’s, you know, in the leadership class, there’s, it’s a mixed bag of everybody. You know I do get a lot of vulnerable of students in there that try to learn maybe some, some life skills. So it’s, it’s really important to me that they they’re heard and they’re given some opportunity to get out in the community, do some good things, cuz then they can also hear that passion that I’m talking about. Right. Helping other people they, they feel that sense of pride too. So, yeah.

Sam Demma (08:17):
And when did you start teaching leadership in your career journey and what actually kind of pushed you in that direction to take it on?

Scott Mclnnis (08:25):
Sure. Yeah. It, it wasn’t so much of a I guess a choice per se. It was part of the contract that I accepted here at SU secondary. Yes. And I just, I just found, it was one of those things that was meant to be when I got here. It was the vice principal at the time was teaching. There was only seven or eight kids and we were working outta the library. There, it was a new program at the, at the high school here. So there wasn’t, we were still developing the structure and the curriculum and all that stuff and I’ve, I’ve taken it and run with it. And now we’re, you know, full at 30 kids with a waiting list, full semesters and it’s, it’s really taken off. So yeah, I’ve, I’ve only been doing it now. This would be my fourth year with a co every year’s changed, especially because of COVID, it’s been kind of, you know, retooling how I do things, but I think it’s been great for me and, and, and for the kids to have, you know, some of them in grade 12, it’s their third time taking leadership and to, to try and develop a course that meets everybody’s needs, whether it’s your first time or your third time, I think has been a great challenge for me.

Scott Mclnnis (09:24):
So, yeah,

Sam Demma (09:26):
That’s awesome. And this will sound like a silly question but I think it’s important to ask, you know, for other educators listening, who don’t maybe even have a leadership class in the, or school or mm-hmm, have never been involved in leadership activities. Why do you think leadership is important? Like why do you think the class and the curriculum is important for the students that sit in your, in your class?

Scott Mclnnis (09:45):
Such a, a great question, Sam, and I think, you know, it’s not a program that’s offered at every school. I know in our district locally here, I’m the only one really that does it at this high school because it is, it is pretty demanding. So it’s, you know from a teacher’s perspective, there’s a lot of out of the timetable stuff that’s required. So I think it’s extremely important because it, I get kids out in the community sort of their, their summative project, so to speak their, their final exam is a community action project, or they’ll go out in small groups and, and, and have a a can drive for the food bank or they’ll volunteer at the youth center, or they will support the junior hockey team during home games, or just all these little different pieces that actually, you know, when we look at the, excuse me, some of the leadership theory that we learned throughout the semester, they really get to, to get their hands dirty and, and explore some of that in more detail.

Scott Mclnnis (10:40):
So yeah, for me, I think the importance of getting out there and, and understanding the importance of being involved in community is the biggest aspect of that course that I think kids can take away from it because it is a lifelong thing. You know, one, you, you understand that again, helping people in your community is an extremely valuable and important and fulfilling role that never leaves you. So I, I just think it’s really important for kids to learn that at a young age and hopefully they can pass that on to their families one day or in whatever other avenue they’re, they’re pursuing, because I do, I do know that they feel it important once they actually do it.

Sam Demma (11:19):
Yeah. And then it’s their job to make it cool. Right.

Scott Mclnnis (11:22):
Yeah,xactly. Everything in between is just about having some fun. Right. you know, just kind of the goal-setting piece and really understanding who they are as a person. I, I, I think, and, and, and, you know, definitely pushing people inside of their comfort zone. I get so many students in my classes who are like, I, you know, day one, they are just so nervous to get up in front of the other class and give a speech or a, a short presentation. And that’s, that’s pretty much all we do, you know, for our, our, our assignments in class is you teach kids about something that you’re passionate about or you know, we’ll look at some different examples of inspiring leadership from around the world. And, and so to see those kids that, that go from, you know, I can’t do this to, that’s not so bad. I can, now I can do this. Anytime I think is, is really cool for them to witness as well for their personal development.

Sam Demma (12:11):
Yeah. That’s so true. And I’m sure, or even you as a teacher probably had moments just like your students where you thought, holy crap, I don’t know if I can do that. And you probably had examples of other people, whether it’s mentors or, you know, veteran teachers, you know, kind of take you under your wing. And I’m curious to know if you had mentors along your educational journey. And if so, you know, do you remember some of their names and what they did for you that had an impact?

Scott Mclnnis (12:34):
I do. I actually, it’s funny cuz probably, I don’t know, a month and a half ago, I, I actually got in touch with one of my mentors. He was my high school PHED slash health education teacher and also my basketball coach. And I reached out to him, he’s still teaching at the high school I went to and he’s actually retiring this year. And just, just to get in touch with him again and, and just say, you know, hello, stop in how much I appreciated. You know, his, his passion spilling over into me. Like he taught he really more than anybody taught me how to be a man and how to be respond for my decisions and how to again, take responsibility over things. That for me, that’s the one that really stuck out early in my life. Again, I was, I was not the best student.

Scott Mclnnis (13:26):
You know, I wasn’t always doing the right thing or making the right choices. And he was one of those guys that just pulled me aside and said, smart enough, you got all the tools it’s time to use. ’em Like, you know enough’s enough kind of thing, but in a, in a very kind and gentle and, and supportive way. Mm. So yeah, Craig ne he’s, he’s the man out in Peterborough, Ontario at Thomas, a Stewart secondary he’s, he’s the guy that really sort of set me on a path for growing up more than anything else. But you know, as I got into the profession later when I started at again, the small independent school here in Kimberly, the founder, one of the founders at school Ursula, Solado, she, she was just so passionate about serving the community and serving kids that, that, that really just it, although maybe I didn’t realize it at the time, that’s also what I was all about.

Scott Mclnnis (14:19):
And I think she was just able to bring that outta me. She was so supportive, you know, there was times in my first you know, month as a teacher, I wanted to quit. I just found the planning so hard in the marking and was I doing the right thing, you know, having really tough days. And, and she was the one that was just like, yeah, just press on. Like, it gets easier every day. You’re in the right business. You’re good at what you do. And, and so, yeah, I’ll never forget her love and support especially early in my career. Sort of as a full-time educator, it was really, really important for me to have that. So yeah, those two for sure, really stick out in my mind and I’ll, I’ll never forget you know, the things they said and did for me along the way. Cause I, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, for sure.

Sam Demma (15:06):
Shout out to Craig and Ursula yeah, you got it. That’s awesome. I think we also learn not only from other people, but from our own experiences. I think that’s one of the biggest Wells of learning we can pull from. And I’m curious to know what learnings you’ve had. Maybe there are some road bumps along your, you know, teaching journey or things that have happened in class or outside of class and you reflected on it and, and realized something that you might think could be beneficial to another educator.

Scott Mclnnis (15:34):
Yeah. I think, you know what it’s, especially when people are getting started you know, it’s, it can be, it can be a challenge in this business early on. I think it, you have to have the confidence in yourself to believe that you’ve made the right decision, you know, sort of for hopefully the rest of your career. Yeah. And I know like teachers have a, have quite a high burnout rate, but I think it’s, it’s that sticktuitiveness that you know, is, is extremely important for young educators. I know for me, it was, you know, I always had the message growing up, whether from my parents or from even the two mentors that I mentioned that, you know, what, when, when the tough, when the going gets cut, tough, the tough get going, sort of thing, you know, you can’t just fold and, and, and quit, cuz that’ll be your go to all the time when things get hard, you know, you have to face that and overcome challenges because you learn from it and you grow as a person that makes it tougher.

Scott Mclnnis (16:28):
And you know, I’ve had just lots of stories that like the at growing up where, you know, life wasn’t necessarily easy. But instead of just saying, you know, throwing my hands up saying I quit, it’s it’s press on. And I think, you know, even the decision to, to, you know, in my early twenties of packing up and going to, to South Korea, I mean that wasn’t, that wasn’t easy to, to be on your own and to haven’t make really, really hard to decisions on your own. You know, that’s what I try and, and instill upon the generation of kids these days is, you know, what, you have to try your best to have the good decisions, maybe outweigh the ones that you reflect on and think you had of, you know, you could have done better when it, when the times are tough. So yeah, I think, I think more than anything, it’s just, it’s just to be resilient, you know? And especially, I know it’s, I know kids have a tough time these days with, you know, a lot of different things that I know I didn’t necessarily have as an influence in my life. There’s a lot of different social pressures and anxieties and things out there. But I think if we can build resiliency in kids at an early age, then it’ll really help them moving forward.

Sam Demma (17:39):
So, awesome. I love that. And I couldn’t agree more, I think, yeah, COVID was a, an example of trying to build resiliency, right. We were all going through the same situation, definitely in different boats, as someone else told me, you know, some people had yachts and others had little dinky boats with no paddles. Right, totally. You know, the situation was similar. And the fact that we were all faced with a challenge and we had to figure out a way to overcome it. And I think that although it’s been so difficult for students, it’s actually building the resilience with than them. And I think it’ll make their futures a lot easier. for it. I think they’ll be a lot resilient, more resilient in their, in their future career choices and also their own other difficulties that might come up in their life. I’m curious to know if you could go back to year one and kind of impart some advice on, you know, year one, education, Scott what advice would you give you younger self?

Scott Mclnnis (18:31):
Oh boy, that’s a really good question. I think, I think to take advantage of opportunities that are, that are presented, you know and, and to give, to make sure that you’re doing self care, you know what I mean? Like, as, as a, and just to clarify, Sam, you’re asking as a first year educator, you’re asking what’s, what’s what I go back and tell myself. Yeah. So yeah,

Sam Demma (18:52):
First year, first couple years.

Scott Mclnnis (18:54):
Yeah, definitely. It’s number one is save all your stuff you don’t ever think that any resources that you’ll, you know, never use again, won’t be helpful cuz they are. And, and number two is just make sure that you have time for yourself, right? Like we, we always do talk about that, that you know, you can’t be at your best self unless you’re feeling, you know, the best that you can. Mm. And I think, again, it’s, it’s a tough job in the first couple of years, you have to make sure that you, you know, when it, the time rolls around that you put things away and go home and, and do something that you enjoy because again, it can be overwhelming at times and, and, and some of the demands can be quite the pressure cooker, but it’s, it’s, you know, for me, I, I don’t think I did a great job of that.

Scott Mclnnis (19:39):
And it was you know I think it did have some impacts just on, on, you know, personal relationships and maybe a little bit of my personal health, but you know, after hearing that from, from more seasoned educators, like, you know, it’s got you just, you gotta, you gotta shutter down man, and, and take some time and, and, you know, make sure you’re skiing on the weekends or, you know, whatever it is to, to take that time for yourself. Cause it clears your head and there’s, there’s, there’s, you know, no question about it, that it, it works. So I think if I could change something, it would just be that, you know, take a little more time for myself and, and things would’ve worked out just fine also, and not be so sort of stressed about doing the best job all the time. Cause there’s a lot of factors that are outta, outta your control as an educator as well. And no matter how well you plan for a day, it’s not gonna work the way you thought. So yeah, just make sure you’re at the top of your mental game, I think more than anything by pursuing your passions, for sure.

Sam Demma (20:32):
I love that. I think there was a quote I saw by Adam Grant and someone’s auto email responder that said play is not a, excuse me, , that’s cute. The auto responder said play is not something that should be an after the fact thing that you use when you have time play is actually something that exists. It should exist on your to-do list. And I’ve read that quote. And I was like, whoa, that’s so true because we actually put ourself into an amazing mental state when we are enjoying life and you’re gonna do better work when you’re enjoying things. right.

Scott Mclnnis (21:08):
Totally just, you know, I agree with you, Sam, not only should it be on your list, but it should be near the top. I mean, it’s, you know we are better when we’re, when we’re happy and when we’re, you know, fulfilled doing the things we want. So no question about that. Ah, I love

Sam Demma (21:22):
It. I love it. Scott, this has been a great conversation. If an educator’s listening feels a little inspired or wants to ask a question or figure out how they could grow just as nice a beard as yours although no one can see it right now. What would be the best way for an educator to get in touch with you and reach out?

Scott Mclnnis (21:37):
Yeah, sure. Email me anytime. My school email is Scott.McInnis@sd6.bc.ca. That’s my school email reach out. I’d love to hear from anybody, especially those teaching leadership, share some resources with you. Yeah, just have a general chat. It’d be always nice to, to develop those networks. So yeah, anytime.

Sam Demma (22:02):
Awesome. Scott, thank you so much. Great chatting with you on the show and keep up the great work.

Scott Mclnnis (22:07):
Appreciate it Sam. Thanks again for the chat.

Sam Demma (22:10):
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 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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