fbpx

leadership

Sarah Daintrey – Teacher, Activities Advisor, Bear Wrestler and Service Education Advocate

Sarah Daintrey – Teacher, Activities Advisor, Bear Wrestler and Service Education Advocate
About Sarah Daintrey

Sarah Daintrey (@sdaintrey) has been teaching and doing student activities for 15 years at Clayton Heights Secondary in Surrey, British Columbia.

She is extremely passionate about service education whether that be inside the classroom or in extracurriculars. The time to do something good is always now. Starting Project Equal, her students have felt empowered by giving back and serving others, leaving a positive impact on the local and global community.

Connect with Sarah: Email | Instagram | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Clayton Heights Secondary

Project Equal

Cloverdale Community Kitchen

Surrey Urban Mission

United Way British Columbia

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 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 enough for me and onto the show. Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam demo. I am super excited to you. Today’s guest. Her name is Sarah, and she has been teaching and doing student activities for 15 years at Clayton Heights Secondary school in Surrey, BC. And I’m sure you’ll realize this very quickly, but she is extremely passionate about service, education, service leadership, whether that be inside the classroom or an extracurricular activities. And she wholeheartedly believes that time to do something good is always right now. You’ll be super surprised when you hear about the interesting and awesome club that she started, I believe 15 or 14 years ago at her school that is now making a huge impact on her community and the world at large. I can’t wait to see you on the other side of this interview. Enjoy this take notes and here’s Sarah Daintrey. Sarah, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator Podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show, another ambassador for serving leadership and service work. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about why your, about the work you do in education today.


Sarah Daintrey (02:27):

Hi, I’m Sarah. So thank you very much for having me. I’m really excited to be here. So I am very, very passionate about service education and connecting service to curriculum and in extracurriculars as well as as in school. So I’m really, really passionate about that kind of stuff. I really want to create kids that graduate from high school that I’m not afraid to live next door to. I want them to be good neighbors that will help their neighbors in with their groceries. If they need to or go shovel their driveway. If it snows, I want them to be not afraid to be a part of a community. And I feel like service education is the pathway to that.


Sam Demma (03:08):

What inspired you to teach students about service work? I’m sure there was a reason why you got so involved with service work and now you preach it to all the students you teach. I’m curious about the, the story behind that.


Sarah Daintrey (03:21):

Okay, well that, one’s a big one, Sam, so when I was first actually, okay, so rewind to be being a child. My dad was really very diligent about making us good people. And so he, as weird as the sounds, he took Christmas from us when I was 12, he said, we will not have Christmases in this house anymore. We will donate all of the money we would’ve spent on you, kids to your charity and you get to pick this here, Sarah. Okay. and so it’s a, it was a, one of those things. It was just a life lesson like that. We, we surround ourself with all this stuff, but this stuff doesn’t really make, make us happy and giving to others can really make us happy. And so like my charity this year, I think that year, I think when I was 12, I gave a TV to a homeless shelter and I was like super jazzed about it.


Sarah Daintrey (04:09):

I think the next year my brother gave a couch to a family center. Like it was like, it was some cool stuff. So I can really thank my parents really for getting me into this. But if you really wanna go why I got into the deep, deep dive of the surface education. So when I was first started teaching, I was 22. So just a little bit older than you when you I was a young cat and I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about maybe four months after starting teaching. So I had double vision. And so I, it just took me into this crazy journey of like, what am I doing with my life? And I really poured myself deeper into service education at that point. Also like at a weird vote a year later, exactly. After I got diagnosed, my husband who was not my husband at the time was my live-in boyfriend got diagnosed with a muscle disease.


Sarah Daintrey (05:07):

And he has really rare form muscular dystrophy. He spent eight months in the hospital and I really, at that point I was teaching and I didn’t tell anybody what was really going on. I was I was teaching at my school that I’m at now and, and I was teaching from eight till three. And then I was at the hospital from three 30, till nine 30, every single day. But that was when the service club that I run at my school started, it was called Project Equal and it still is called that. And I really poured myself into that because if you got something that is bothering you, how helping others is a pathway out of that. And so I really grinded and, and put that club in. I put a lot of energy in my time into that club while I was at school. And it’s become a fairly successful thing after that. So it was one of those things. It was a dark time, but Project Equal was really, really one of those things that kind of got me through it.


Sam Demma (06:06):

People often think that they will give once they have, or they will be of service once they’re successful and have time, I think it’s and the reverse and you give, and the more you give the better you personally feel and the better others feel. Can you dispel that myth? And what are your thoughts around that idea that you have to wait till you graduate or wait till you have enough money or wait till you have more time?


Sarah Daintrey (06:33):

No. Now is always the time now is always like grasp the moment while you have it and help those while you can, because you never know what’s coming around the corner they’re pro tomorrow is promised to no one. So help somebody today.


Sam Demma (06:47):

I love that right now. What do you think are the benefits personally and selflessly for the people around you of getting involved in service work?


Sarah Daintrey (06:56):

Oh, I, I mean, there’s so many benefits I’ve seen. Okay. Like from like the kids who have been involved in my, in the program, in the service program that I run at school, I got one who’s working for the UN United Nations right now. And, and she’s in Kenya helping. Yeah, I know. And I’m not taking credit for that, but like who, that would nice to have like a little piece of that, right?


Sam Demma (07:21):

Spark the fire, you sparked the light.


Sarah Daintrey (07:24):

I got, I got a, the girl who started Project Equal, she’s running the Fraser Health Emergency Management right now. Wow. So she’s running COVID in our profits, its yeah, like there there’s like some functional skills that is learned and from not only like planning meetings and executing events, but it’s also like from like reaching out and giving to others, it’s unbelievable to see what, what the kids have been able to do. It’s it’s great. I got a lawyer, an environmental lawyer who came through our program who, when I coached him in cross country, he would never come back from a run without like a piece of garbage. And I’m like, dude, you could probably run a little faster. He’s like, yeah, but this garbage I’m like right. And so good.


Sam Demma (08:07):

That’s awesome. I love that. And, and you’re speaking to the benefits a student would get and what’s awesome is that service is a win-win win scenario. I like to say this student or the person doing it benefits, the whole world is a whole benefits and the person you’re doing it for also benefits and the more we can engage in win-win win activities, especially during a time like COVID where everyone’s a little bit upset or down the better everyone humanity as a whole will feel. Tell me more about Project Equal. So what is it, what does it look like? Like what do you do with these students? When do you meet, how do you meet? Tell me more, tell me all about it.


Sarah Daintrey (08:46):

Typically I, we meet on Mondays at lunch at school and it is our biggest club at school. So I like to okay. Say that I’m also a fun squelcher and sometimes in my nature. So I, if a kid comes to me and they say, oh, I wanna start a senior citizens club or I wanna start a dog club where we only help dogs. And I’m like, well, Project Equal helps all of those things, bring your idea to project equal and then we’re gonna, we’re gonna help you out there. And the, and the collective group comes together for project equal and we help all of these different causes instead of having 25 different clubs that are all reaching for the same cookie Sam. Like, do you get what I mean? Like if everyone’s hand is reaching into the jar for a cookie, ain’t nobody gonna get cookie.


Sarah Daintrey (09:35):

I would rather ask one at a time, reach in and then you can have your cookie this month and we’re gonna support you. So I think that that is the magic of Project Equal. Is that the collective good? And that it is not about who’s the president of this club. I don’t know if you, you probably have experienced this in your, or kind of foray into student leadership is that there are resume checkbox, people who say like I started my own club. Well, what did you do within that club? Equals is like an all encompassing service thing that if, if you wanna get involved in service, you can just come and join us and present your idea. So I don’t, I, I feel like it’s a, it’s more about the collective good.


Sam Demma (10:25):

I think it’s awesome because I also found that in school. Yeah, you’re right. Sometimes you start a club just for the sake of writing it on your resume for university applications or for a future job. I never got involved in anything at school, which I highly regret due to my own soccer passions. But if I could go back starting something like project equal at my school, sounds like a phenomenal idea. If an educator is listening and thinks, this is such a great idea, we don’t have a service club at our school. I would love to amalgamate all these clubs that are working towards awesome goals. What advice would you give them to get started with something like this?


Sarah Daintrey (11:02):

Sit down with the stakeholders and start to talk about bringing people together. Now, when I’ve, I’ve talked to many schools about this, Sam I’ve gone and brought this idea to the schools because sometimes as an educator, you feel like it’s yours. Hmm. Right. That’s my club. I run that. It’s mine project. Equals is not mine. Project Equal is the students club. And it’s for people who really wanna make a difference. So I don’t really feel like I own it even though it’s, it’s been a part of my life for 14 years now. Right. So, but it’s, it’s not, I don’t own it. It’s more of it, so like sometimes you get like a teacher and they feel like they, they, this is my club and these are my kids and this is what we do together. It’s like, well, that’s great and everything, but gotta put your ego aside and let’s talk about what is the collective good. Now sometimes it’s worked at schools like I’ve had a few people start a collective service club and it is working no like no problem, but sometimes egos get in the way and people want to have their hope for homeless or the pause for the cause. Or you, you, you know, you could name it any, anything, or BR or cancer awareness or like relay for life club, all of those kinds of things. But wouldn’t it be great if we could all come together and support each other?


Sam Demma (12:27):

Tell me how many students are involved is, is like you, you said it’s the biggest club in school and now you’ve peaked my care. How big is big?


Sarah Daintrey (12:35):

Well right now it’s hard. Okay. We can’t meet because of cohorts, we can’t get together, but on a regular, like if we’re in regular school, there’s between 150 to 200 kids that come and show up and do this stuff. Wow. And it’s not a pressure thing, Sam, like you come to equal one week and you’re like, yeah, this is awesome. Well, I had a lunch date next week. Okay. Well then you get, then you’re outta here. And we don’t have a president of project equal. Okay. We run through executive council. So if you wanna run our club, you come before school to my classroom on Mondays and we meet and we plan out the meetings together. What’s it gonna look like? What do we want to accomplish? And if you want a cause supported, you bring it to executive council and they talk about it together. Hmm. And they run the meetings together. It’s fantastic. I mean, sometimes this is a train wreck, but as you’re watching all students do what they do. But it mostly is very, very good.


Sam Demma (13:34):

No, that’s awesome. You, you reminded me like what we do with PickWaste. We don’t have a non-negotiable schedule and all students have to come. We have an email list to volunteers. They all get an email on Thursday saying, Hey, this is where we’re going on. Saturday. Feel free to come. If not, we’ll still part friends, you know? And sometimes someone shows up and then they don’t show up for another formal. We don’t bug them. It’s just drop in. If you’d like to give back today, you, you have the opportunity to do so. And I think that model is so it’s so great because there’s no pressure. And it it’s, there’s no one pushing you to do it. You just, you show up because you want to get involved. Which is awesome. How do you, how do you inspire a student to build that inner drive? To want to give back so much so that no one needs to push them, but they’re jumping at the opportunity to do so.


Sarah Daintrey (14:25):

So I mean, I, I think my, okay, okay. This is weird because I am like extremely shy and a totally humble person. But I think the fact that I’m willing to dive in. Mm I’m, I’m going to walk with them. I’m going to hand out the care packages with them. I’m going to do the things with them. I’m gonna be of like the I’m gonna dig the hole with them. I’m gonna be in the garden, planting the plants with them. I think that that is speaks to the, the fact that kids wanna get involved. Like one of my I’m at home this year, Sam. So because I have Ms. I don’t have an immune system. So I’m at home this year. I’m teaching kids online. I’m actually teaching socials and English right now, which is thrilling and great.


Sarah Daintrey (15:12):

Shout out to my socials and English kids. So I, but I’m at home this year. So it’s been a big lesson for me. I’m not at the school and it’s been very difficult, but my teaching partner in crime, she gave me a little piece of paper that I keep at my desk. And it says, what you lack in talent can be made up with this and giving a hundred percent all of the time. Mm. And I look at it every single day because it reminds me that I’m willing to grind and really get in there with kids. I just gotta wait for my opportunity to be able to do so.


Sam Demma (15:46):

I love that when I was in high school and I had my knee injuries, I was lucky enough to have a educator just like you, who helped me redefine what my self worth was attached to. I thought growing up that to be worth something, I had to be an incredible athlete because everyone around me praised me when I played good soccer. And when I lost the ability to play sports, I felt like I was absolutely worthless. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And the reality is is that every student, whether they’re facing a soccer injury or not all attach their self worth to something, and it was Mike loud who stopped me and he said something very similar to what’s on that paper. He said, your self worth is attached to two things. Two decisions that you can make every day, the first being to show up and give a hundred percent of your effort so that when the day’s over and you look in the mirror, you can say, I’m proud of myself, despite the result, whatever happened happened.


Sam Demma (16:35):

But I gave a hundred percent of my effort. And the second decision was to be of service to others. And he actually used to reference Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali had a quote and he used to say you know, your rent here on earth, the rent that you pay, you pay it by service to others. And Mike loves that quote. And I love that quote. And I think it’s just so important for students to remember that they’re not their skills, talents, and abilities. They are their effort and their decision to give back to others. And I think that’s such an empowering message on the topic of giving back. What are some of the projects over the past 14 years that have been started within and project equal?


Sarah Daintrey (17:15):

Well, there’s some, some cool stuff. I mean, we did start out with like the typical raise money for free the children and buy schools in international communities. And we’ve been on trips with them as well. We kind of have distanced ourselves a little bit from that since the waters got a little bit muddy a couple years ago. So there, as with all things, Sam, things are both good and bad and you gotta take the good and then minimize the bad. So yeah, I, but this year alone I’m, I’m at home, but I’m still meddling as much as I possibly can. Nice. So we’re doing an art project with my senior art teacher. She’s created a 36 pieces of art that are going to the Brookside Lodge, which is our local seniors home that we usually have for Christmas dinner at our school.


Sarah Daintrey (18:09):

They come and we serve them a Turkey meal at our school. But they can’t come obviously because of COVID and we dropped off 36 pieces of art for them to have an art installation with pictures of the kids who created the art and why they created the art on the back to build a connection between those two people. That was a cool one that we were doing nice. What’s one of the, I really, I mean, we serve at local shelters quite often. So the Surrey Urban Mission or the Clovadoke Community Kitchen, we’re there three to four times a year, obviously not right now, but we’re itching to get back there. I’m trying to think of some cool things. There’s just been so many, I mean, and then the garbage cleanup we do invasive plant species removal. Those kinds- I got a environmental as mark likes to refer to me as a Birkenstock green, green thumb person, but that’s fine.


Sarah Daintrey (19:04):

I’m, I’ll take that as a compliment. yeah, so I, I, we do lots of environmental stuff. And, and cleanups, we ran beach cleanups as well. I took my biology, 11 kids on a field trip to go paddle boarding, but then the first part of the morning was all beach cleanup. Nice. So they had to clean up the intertitles zone, which is what you learn about in biology 11. Yeah. I mean, it’s really just integrated into my life. If I’m teaching you a course, you do service. If I am working with you in a club, you do, you do service . If you’re in my leadership class, you do service . So I don’t like the word volunteer hours anymore. Yeah. Sam, I don’t like it. I don’t know why I have an avert the word, but I prefer service.


Sam Demma (19:53):

Yeah, no, I’m I’m with you. I feel like volunteering is something that you’re forced to do. I think service is something you choose to do. Like, I think that’s, that might be the differentiation between the two, because when I hear the word volunteer, I, as a student associated with my principal, handing me a blue book and you need this to graduate, whereas it should be, this is something you should be doing for the rest of your life. Here’s a perfect time to start. So yeah, I think I agree with you on that one. And on that note, what do you think is the difference between the word leader and the word servant leader, if you had to define the two?


Sarah Daintrey (20:31):

Well, okay. I also run student council at my school, which is a big part of our school culture. Or I’m one of the teacher sponsors anyways. I don’t think I run it, the kids run it. But those leaders are more for getting people involved and like, and showing them the way to get involved at our school. Whereas servant leaders are more about I guess what I said before is diving in with people and working alongside people to create a, a better world and a change in their community. I think that that’s more a, what servant leadership is.


Sam Demma (21:09):

Love that. And I know that your school has partnered with large non non-national organizations. And you guys have brought in big partners. Has that been a difficult process or would you say it was surprisingly easy? I’m curious to know.


Sarah Daintrey (21:22):

Okay. So this was like, right. Top more sort of, was it preparation me talk opportunity. That’s like, OK. Yeah, that’s it. So these people came to our school because somebody was on a Facebook group ragging on how terrible our teens are in our area. So the United Way came to our school. And my principal said, well, I don’t, you should talk to our leadership teacher. You should talk to she’s one of our advisors. So they came and they sat and talked to me and she’s like, have you seen this Facebook group? I’m like, no. And she’s like, well, do you know what they’re saying? I’m like, no, she’s like, you wanna know? No, I don’t. And then I blurted out what we had just done this year. I’m like, we just had seniors. He, we had 80 seniors here. We served them a Turkey dinner.


Sarah Daintrey (22:11):

Did you guys know about that? No. I’m like, well, I like don’t judge our school about what some, sorry. Texting Susan or whatever her or him texting Tim does behind a computer screen. Yep. Okay. Not judge our school on that. And I have a really hard time shouting from the rooftops, all of the amazing things that our school does, because I don’t feel like that should be the reward. The reward should be the act itself. Mm-Hmm . So I have a really hard time with the celebration walls and the Instagram posts of all of the amazing things we do. I have a difficult time with that because it is not about that for me, it’s about the act itself. And so I, I, I do I’m right now. I’m doing my level two certification for CSLA and that’s the part I’m really struggling with is I’m know that we need to do that in our school. That’s something we need to do better is celebrate the things that we’re doing. But I, I, I, so I don’t know why it feels like I’m like getting the act gets tainted by the it’s not bragging, it’s celebrating, but it, I don’t I’m I struggle with that part of things.


Sam Demma (23:30):

There’s a, a cool distinction. There’s a content creator named Gary Vee and he’s a marketer and he’s been creating videos like every other day, every day for the past, like four years, he has a huge marketing company. And he said something that really resonated with me that might help shift your perspective a little bit. He says, don’t create content, promoting yourself, just document the journey. And that for me was a cool distinction, cuz you don’t have to stand and say, look how great I am. You could just pick up a camera and be like, here’s what we’re doing today. And just post a short little video. But on that note you’re not alone. I feel the same way that you do so much so that I took a year off social media. I’m about six months in I used to post secondary school I went to on the stage saying, rah, rah, I’m speaking at a school.


Sam Demma (24:14):

And then I turned 21 and I sat down with myself and had an honest reflection and realized this isn’t helping anybody. I feel like an idiot doing this all the time. I’m probably gonna stop. And so I just stopped cold Turkey. And I haven’t posted on Instagram since. And I think for me, it’s helping dismantle like a little bit of my own personal ego and I’m still a young guy. And I think it’s important that we all ask ourselves. What’s the real reason behind why we’re posting something. And if the, if the reason is genuine and authentic and then I think it’s okay, but you have to be really, you have to be really clear and careful on what you put out and the reason behind why you put it out. So all that to say you’re not alone. I think, I think I, I kind of feel the same way sometimes too. And it feels weird when you do post it. So I will wait until the day comes, when someone figures out how to promote events and things that are happening without sounding selfish, self centered I’m with you on that.


Sarah Daintrey (25:08):

My bullying day today was I was two teachers from last year doing something goofy in pink. And I said, the pink is the first step, but the intentional kindness every single day is the hard work. Yeah. Let’s get there. Yeah. I agree. Actually, I think this is getting lost. Like this pink shirt is getting lost in the shuffle and the intentional kindness is where we need to get back to. Yeah. Yeah. Like it’s not about the dress up. It’s about the intentional kindness. Yeah. And not the confetti kindness, not the like sprinkles kindness. It it’s the deep, intentional kindness. Like my classes today, there’s a young girl in mission. I got this wonderful idea for my teaching partner at school. There’s a young girl in mission who was beaten up and bullied in January for being a transgender youth. Wow. And she was just like fully attacked. My kids today are writing her letters. Wow. Of encouragement. Nice. Because that’s deep, intentional kindness. I, I had them watch or read an article on her and we’re gonna reach out to her because I think it’s that that’s deep and intentional on their part and, and something that can make them feel powerful and good.


Sam Demma (26:25):

Mm-Hmm no, I agree so much. Like I, I couldn’t agree more. And I think it’s also important to know that sometimes it is the harder decision. Sometimes we convince ourselves that it’s easier to pass someone on the street and not do anything about it or to see a post like that and just keep scrolling on your feed. But you know, when you do take those actions, those deep, intentional acts of kindness, it has a positive impact on everyone else. That’s involved in the situation and you also feel great. Like, you know, whether you post about it or not, you selfishly feel good. That’s a cool thing about philanthropy is that everyone wins. You feel good? Other people feel good, so why not get involved? I think it’s so cool.


Sarah Daintrey (27:05):
That, yeah. I, people always say like, oh, there’s no unselfish act. That’s true. because if you do something good for somebody else, you intent, you feel good. And it is the only drug I want to be addicted to. Yeah. It is the only survey other people is the only drug I wanna be addicted to. And once you, I, I give people a taste of it. Like for example, in my math 10 class I usually teach math 10. Aw. Which is for kids who hate school or suck at math or even worse are the combination of both. And they have been told, and they’ve been told they’re not good at school and they can’t do it. I, you work with the United way and I bring them in and we do a project where we feed as many people as we can, for $1,500, they gotta do budgeting.


Sarah Daintrey (27:57):

They gotta do skill. Like they have some hard skills they gotta do with this. And then we go and we feed people on the downtown east side with help from save on meets. It’s a company on the downtown east side of Vancouver. Okay. These are kids who don’t feel like they can do anything. I’ve had four or five kids turn around from that class. And then they join leadership the next year. Or they come out to project equal and they come and they do stuff. Or I have kids who wanna be my peer tutor the next year. So they come on that field trip and feel good about themselves. So it’s not just for the leaders, it’s for everybody.


Sam Demma (28:32):

Mm. So true. And it’s the little things that matter most, the little acts of kindness. Right. I, I, I watched a movie the other day with Denzel Washington called the little things and he’s at a, he’s a hop and an investigator, and he’s trying to bust this criminal on some thing that he did. And, and multiple times in the film he stops and he looks at the camera and he says, it’s the little things that will get him caught. But I also think it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Like writing someone, a handwritten note or smiling in the hallway or buying them a coffee. I also think that sometimes students get overwhelmed or teachers get overwhelmed with starting a club like this because they think that they have to go out and, and become the next Martin Luther king and change the world. And I think it’s 11 kids. Yeah. And I think it’s totally false. And I was gonna ask you, like, you know, what are some good benchmarks to think about in terms of project sizes and starting thing like this, for someone who’s listening to this whole conversation and is really interested in getting involved.


Sarah Daintrey (29:30):

OK. So I’m extremely competitive. OK. OK. mostly with myself. OK. Mostly I’m like kinda one up myself all of the time. Yeah. So I had a principal at the time who shall remain nameless because he is mostly good dad, but some people have some bad parts to them. He said, Margie equal is a stupid idea. It will never work and whatever else. Right. And he said, but go ahead. If you want to, and you can just do it with the grade 11th. So I had seven grade elevenths that first started out. And then, and by the end of the year, I think we grew to 11 kids. We bought our first school in Sierra Leon, because that was what the one of the kids wanted to do. And we served at the Sur remission. And we did some environmental projects where we like went and cleaned up garbage, all this kind of stuff.


Sarah Daintrey (30:14):

It was great year. I went and slapped the check on his desk personally. Yes, let’s go for, I love it. And then he went to the district and bragged about it, and then we became bigger after that, which was great. I guess I can thank him for speaking my praises, I guess. But I do think that small, intentional acts and small steps works. I mean, where equal even came from the word project equal young lady, it did some math, she had 236 people in her grade and she did some math if somebody gave up just $5 a month. So like going to Tim, Horton’s go to Starbucks even probably less than going to Starbucks. Now. if they gave up $5 a month, she could buy a school in a, in a third world country to that was her idea. And I said, that’s brilliant, but I want to help locally too, as much as we do globally. So as much as we do international, and then she, she agreed with me and literally we bought our first school within that year. And we helped we handed out meals at the Sur for a mission. We did care packages. Like there was so much we did, and that was just with her year. Wow. And then we expanded after that. It was incredible.


Sam Demma (31:27):

So the sky’s the limit and be creative.


Sarah Daintrey (31:28):

Basically truly is. And smart. Start small for goodness sake. Do not try to eat all the whole cake. Just take one bite.


Sam Demma (31:36):

Love it. That sounds great. Well, Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your passion about service work and servant leadership and project equal. I appreciate it. And if someone is listening right now, thinking this is an inspiring conversation and they’d love to chat with you further, what would be the best way for another educator to reach out and, and have a conversation?


Sarah Daintrey (31:55):

Oh, I’m super great at email. So if you wanna email me at daintrey_s@surreyschools.ca. You can email me. That would be super great. The rest of my forms of communication are very subpar. So email works. Haha!


Sam Demma (32:13):

That is perfect. Well, thank you so much for doing this. Again, I appreciate your time. Keep up the awesome work, whether or not you post about it will be secretly trying to figure out what you continue to do behind the seats. Thank you so much.


Sarah Daintrey (32:31):

I want you to come to my school. Okay. When this is over, I feel like you should come to my school. I, when I can go back there, we’ll meet. We’ll meet there. How does that sound?


Sam Demma (32:41):

Sounds ike a plan. I’ll get on a plane and I promise and we’ll make it happen.


Sarah Daintrey (32:44):

Yeah. You sound like you fit with my vibe. I like it.


Sam Demma (32:49):

No, I appreciate it, Sarah. Thank you again so much. And let’s stay in touch.


Sarah Daintrey (32:53):

All right. Sounds good. Thanks Sam.


Sam Demma (32:55):

And there you have it. Another amazing guest and 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 to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Sarah Daintrey

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.

Andrew Hall – Chaplaincy Leader at St. Johns College

Andrew Hall – Chaplaincy Leader at St. Johns College
About Andrew Hall

Andrew Hall (@drumjokes93) is a drummer and started a junior and senior worship band at St. Johns College. He challenges students to write a worship song every year and then takes them to a studio to record it. This year with all restrictions, he can’t do worship band but am still finding ways to give students opportunities.

Connect with Andrew: Email | Instagram | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Redeemer University

Mount Mary Ancaster

Junior and Senior Worship Band

St. Johns College

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):
Do you want access to all the past guests on this show? Do you want a network with like-minded individuals and meet other high performing educators from around the world? If so, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Sign up to join the exclusive network and you’ll get access to live virtual networking events and special opportunities that will come out throughout 2021. I promise you I will not fill your inbox. You might get one email a month. If that sounds interesting, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Welcome back to another episode on the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today’s guest is Andrew Hall. He is the chaplaincy leader at St John’s college, and he also runs a band, a worship band with his high school. He is a drummer and he started a junior and senior band and he challenges students to write a worship song year, and then he takes them to a studio to record it. Because this year’s COVID, unfortunately that’s been a little bit difficult, but he is still finding other ways to give students opportunities. And that’s what we talk about today on the show. So pop your headphones in and enjoy today’s interview with Andrew Hall. And I will see you on the other side. Andrew, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator podcast. I love the Jersey you’re wearing. I would love for you to share with the audience who you are, the work that you do and why you originally got into the work you do with youth.


Andrew Hall (01:36):

All right. So my name is Andrew Hall. I’m a chaplaincy leader at St. John’s College in this is my seventh year at the high school. I also did three years of elementary chaplaincy in Niagra and one year as an onsite chaplain at Mount Mary Ancaster. So I’ve been in chaplaincy 10 years in total. And the reason why I got into it just was because I have a passion for the Catholic faith, and I love sharing that faith with teenagers and students. And one reason I’m I’m in this position as a chaplain is that I kind of love the freedom that comes with it. Like for example I don’t have to be at parent teacher interviews or grade or do things like that. There’s a lot of fun that comes with this job. So for example, in a normal year, like isn’t a normal year, so I know we’ll get that a bit later, but in a normal year I’d be taking kids to nursing homes. I’m a drummer, so I’d be jamming with the worship band at lunch be going to volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul doing community work. So, and having campus ministry meetings where we play games. And I try to make faith interactive for students because I think faith shouldn’t be boring. It should be fun. So that’s a huge part of why I’m in this job is just making faith fun for students and showing them that you can have fun in your faith.


Sam Demma (02:55):

I love that. And at what point in time did you know, I wanna be doing this specific work? Was it when you were in high school? Was it when you were in university? When did you decide this was gonna be your future?


Andrew Hall (03:07):

So I’d say right after university actually I wasn’t really planning to be a chaplain, so I can kind of tell you how I kind of maybe accidentally stumbled into that role if you want. Sure, sure. Yeah, sure. So anyway, I was planning to be a teacher. I was I got the degree from Redeemer University College and their teaching college program. And I also got an undergrad in theology and Phys. Ed. So I was planning to be a teacher. At the time I was planning a band. So I was trying to make that work. I was also doing landscaping on the side and had all of these different things going on. But one day I decided to go for a hike on a Bruce trail near Mount Mary Ancaster. And if you don’t know what Mount Mary is, it’s a modest area.


Andrew Hall (03:54):

It’s where, where nuns live. And anyway, I, I happened to bump into an none and we got to talking and I told her, you know, I go to Redeemer and you know, in Catholic. And she said, would you be interested in being an onsite chaplain here and running retreats for for grade eights from Kitchener, Waterloo? You know, I never really thought about it, but it was like a really it sounded really secure to me. Like, you know, I was guaranteed, like, you’re gonna run like 40 retreats that year. You’re guaranteed, like these are the days you’re working and, you know, with landscaping, you, you get rained out. , you know, things like that. And, you know, the band and the music industry, it’s a, it’s an awesome dream to have, but, you know it’s a tough gig, you know, so anyway, I said, sure, I’ll, I’ll come by for interview tomorrow. They gave me the job and basically by just going hiking and bumping into a nun that’s how I became a chaplain really. And now I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t do anything else. I love this.


Sam Demma (04:51):

Awesome, man. That’s really, really cool. And you mentioned earlier, there are some challenges that make this year a little bit different than the average year. What are some of the challenges that your current faced with and what do you, or what have you been trying to, to overcome them?


Andrew Hall (05:06):

So first I think our biggest challenge is at least for our Catholicity is we’re not allowed to have masses. So this is like the first time where, you know, our students are unable to gather for masses and see our priests, you know, face to face at school. As the musician too, you know, I do the worship band. This is like I said, it’s my seventh year, seventh year at St. John’s and we’ve had a worship band every year since I’ve been there. And I challenge the kids to write a song and we take them to the studio to record it. And that’s like a huge love that I have at that job, but we can’t have worship band this year because as you may know, like singing’s not allowed, right. I guess from what I know, it can spread germs during COVID, you know, so for those safety reasons, we can have worship band, like even my wife who sings sometimes at church has to sing behind glass, you know?


Andrew Hall (06:00):

So there’s a lot of precaution to go into music right now. If it’s gonna happen. So just outta safety, we’re not doing worship band. So what I’m doing instead is I’m challenging students to record songs at home. So if you’re a singer guitar player, Hey, record a song at home, send it to me and we’ll throw it in the liturgy. Even we’ll just throw it in as on a random day, like, Hey, here’s this person celebrating their faith at home. And other challenges too are just for example, we, we can’t go to nursing homes right now. Like that’s something I’ve done every year and the kids love it. I love how a big part of, of me is showing every person that they matter and that every stage of life matters. So we go to the nursing home.


Andrew Hall (06:43):

That’s the one thing I love about the work I do as well. So we can’t do that. So as an alternative, I talked to one of the nurses at the nursing home and we’re doing a pen pal program with them. Hmm. So for the month of October, November, I have about 35 students signed up and we are writing a letter to them once a week. Mm-Hmm and also it’s really cool for English teacher jumped on board. She’s getting her class to do it as well. So those are challenges I’m facing, but I guess one rule that I’m trying to come up with is, you know, if what I’m trying to say, I guess is if I’ve try to do something or, you know, the things I normally do, I’m just trying to try to find a different way to do them.


Sam Demma (07:24):

That’s a great perspective. Just adjust and pivot a little bit, still have the impact of the activity, but maybe in a slightly different way. That’s great. Yeah. I know sports have been, been impacted as well. Speaking of you’re wearing a Raptor’s Jersey are you a big Raptor?


Andrew Hall (07:39):

Oh yeah. Yeah. Big time mean that’s kind of, I guess, sidetracking, but yeah, no I have been a Raptors for, I’d say about four years now. Nice. I’ve always been a basketball fan, but like, I’ll admit, I I always love playing it more. I’m watching it. Yeah. but you know how I said, like I got really lucky and I happened to bump into that nun that day. Right. Well, an, an experience like that actually helped me to become a raps fan. I, I won this random contest and it was like, it’s a limo free hotel, like free food to the raps opening game of four years ago. Nice. And honestly, once I went and saw live for the first time my dad, I was hooked and yeah. I never missed a game now, pretty much on TV when that happened.


Sam Demma (08:26):

That’s nice, man. That’s really cool. , you’re someone who radiates hope and joy and positivity, and you can tell it in your responses. And I’m curious to know aside of the challenges that are happening right now, what keeps you personally motivated and hopeful with the work that you’re doing?


Andrew Hall (08:43):

Oh, so what keeps me motivated and hopeful. Yeah. Okay. I guess right now seeing students buy into it, like even in the times we’re in like knowing that students are still willing and wanting to be involved. And I guess what gave me hope walking into September was knowing that during last year’s, you know, last school year’s pandemic when we were off that I still had students participate, even though we weren’t at school. So I thought if I can get students to do that, then I have a shot going into this year. You know? So for example, when we were off last year I challenged students to create like virtual liturgy. So the word, and every morning I would have a student film, a prayer video, we’d send it up to staff every single morning. So we even did like we had a virtual grad retreat for example, last year.


Andrew Hall (09:41):

So that even gave me hope. So for, and you even asked me, I think maybe I was looking at some of the questions, so I’m kind was right to jump ahead, maybe yeah. Go for it. Right. Right. Well, all right. No, I was just thinking about that. I mentioned virtual retreat and you know, I was thinking about I guess one of those questions that we were talking about before we started recording was just like do I have any mistakes that I’ve made maybe, or would I do anything differently? And I think when I look back to virtual grad retreat, I almost didn’t do it. I thought there’s no way kids are gonna do that. They’re off from school, what are the chances? And I thought, you know, I’m just gonna go for it. So virtual grab retreat actually gave me a lot of hope and this happened in may last year. I just thought, you know, if this 27 students can sign up in may. And that just made me think, you know, if we go back September, then I know if things can work. Yeah.


Sam Demma (10:39):

Yeah. How, how did you do that? How, like, if you were to share a little bit about how that was possible for someone who might be listening, would you be open to sharing?


Andrew Hall (10:48):

Yeah, sure. Like how did I actually get it off the ground? Virtual grad retreat?


Sam Demma (10:51):

How did you do it?


Andrew Hall (10:52):

Sure. So basically I didn’t even have any idea what I was doing, but I, I kind of came up with I thought, okay, first off, what would you do in a virtual grad retreat? So I came up, I wanted to keep it simple. So I contacted our parish priest, that’s connected to the school and I said, Hey, can you start the retreat off with a a blessing for our grads? So we did that. We had an activity like where I asked students to reflect on their four years at St. John’s college and write a letter to a teacher that impacted them. Because our theme, we have a free year theme at our school board, and last year’s theme was encounter. So I wanted to, to reflect on that theme of encounter and how has a, a teacher that you’ve encountered impacted your life.


Andrew Hall (11:38):

And then, then we did a a big song at our school’s awesome God, the the worship man is always requested to play it out song. So we did like an awesome God challenge, where I challenged students to listen to the song, maybe do something funny or goofy, take a picture and host it on social media, just with the hashtag awesome. God. And then the last thing was just taking a selfie with saying SJC virtual grab retreat as a hashtag. And that was pretty much it. So it’s just, honestly that took an hour and students really appreciate it. I think one way I know that is just I was actually, I didn’t know what to do with the letters the kids wrote to their favorite teachers. Right. So I actually went and delivered them to the teachers and with my kids, I familiar two oldest kids in the car and we went out, we delivered letters and it really made it was really nice to see just the impact on the teachers, not seeing those students to get those letters.


Sam Demma (12:36):

Yeah, that’s awesome. And during this time you mentioned 27 kids showing up in may. I’m sure you’ve been impacting a lot of students right now during this time as well. I’m curious to know if there’s a story in your mind. It doesn’t have to be of right now, maybe in the past years of, of your work a story that might, you’ve impacted a young person’s life through your own work. And the reason I’m asking you to share the story and you can change the student’s name if you’d like to, for the sake of privacy. But the reason I’m asking you to share the story is because if there’s another educator out there listening to this, thinking to them themselves, you know, it’s been really tough year this year. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why my work important to hear a story that you have. It might inspire them to remember, you know, their, their purpose.


Andrew Hall (13:20):

Okay. You might hear a baby in the background there. We’ll see, but that’s okay. It’s like school, there’s always something going on. Right. That’s all good. Right. So anyway I guess a story about how I’ve impacted someone’s life. Just let’s go back to virtual grad retreat. I didn’t expect to get a letter from a student. But I did I had a grade 12 girl write me a letter just saying, Hey, you know, without you, as our chaplain, I don’t think I would be as close to God as I am right now. So that actually that really I just made me reassured me that even in these toughest times, I can still be effective as a chaplain even going into September our new board theme has transformed. So I reached out to a few graduates and I asked, Hey, you know, can you record videos?


Andrew Hall (14:17):

Cause I think it’d be awesome for our staff to be witness to by students who have graduated and just saying how your faith is transformed at St. John’s. so this one girl she won’t even mind me saying her name, but her name’s Ella and she filmed the video saying how much to worship band impact impacted her life, how it helped her to overcome shyness and just be more outgoing. And she, she said in the video that, you know, if you would’ve told her in grade nine, that she’d be singing in front of like 1200 kids, she would’ve never believed you. But it happened. And to me, I think that says that sometimes people are just looking for an invitation to get involved. And I think that’s my role to give people opportunities and hope they take advantage of them.


Sam Demma (15:04):

That’s awesome. I was gonna ask you as a follow up question, like how do we, you know, knowing that students write these letters to their teachers and their chaplains, you know, what do we do proactively to get those? Not, not that you’re looking to get that response from a student you wanna, you know, impact their life. Is it just tapping ’em on the shoulder and providing them with an opportunity or what do you proactively do to make students feel cared and appreciated?


Andrew Hall (15:30):

Let’s see. Well, I guess providing those opportunities is my way of showing I care. Nice. You know? Yeah. And I also think like the personal touch is like something you gotta do. Like it’s not just going on announcements and saying, Hey, come out. Like it’s for me going into those classrooms and being face to face with kids and saying, you know, I’m not just on announcements, I’m actually going into classrooms. And I think that students, when they see you like walking around the hallway or not just this, not just a chaplain in your office, that you’re actually out there and doing things, it shows that you care. So that’s how I try to show students that I care just by being present and giving them that opportunity.


Sam Demma (16:13):

Awesome. I love that so much. And it was a teacher who taught me on the shoulder and said, Hey, Sam, go do this in the community. That totally transformed my experience in a high school. So I, I can totally agree to that. If someone listening who’s an educator wants to reach out to you and maybe just bounce some ideas around, what’s the best way for them to do that.


Andrew Hall (16:32):

Oh sure. As, so they can contact me at my email, which is ahall@bhncdsb.ca. That’s where they can talk, contact, and reach out. They can also Google my name in St. John’s College and I’m sure my email will pop up.


Sam Demma (16:58):

Okay. Awesome. Andrew, thanks so much for coming on the show. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you and I can’t wait to hear some of your new student music.


Andrew Hall (17:05):

Awesome. Thanks. Yeah, we got music coming out next week for doing something different for Thanksgiving. Like I said, we can’t have our Thanksgiving mass. So we’re actually having we have our schedule set up in four different blocks right now, just with COVID. So at the end of each block, we’re gonna pause and have something to celebrate our faith and give thanks for Thanksgiving. So I actually have students recording songs at home for Thanksgiving. So yeah, we’re gonna have some music coming out next week.


Sam Demma (17:38):

Awesome. Well, I’ll look forward to it and I’ll talk to you soon.


Andrew Hall (17:41):

Awesome. Thanks Sam.


Sam Demma (17:43):

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 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.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Andrew Hall

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.

Karl Mercuri – Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator at The Priory Elementary School

Karl Mercuri – Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator at The Priory Elementary School
About Karl Mercuri

Karl Mercuri (@Karl_Mercuri) is the Social and Emotional Coordinator at The Priory School in Montreal, QC, Canada and a grade 4 teacher. This allows him to actively implement innovative SEL practices amongst the students, staff, and community at The Priory.

He has passion for social and emotional learning, ei, positive psychology, behavior, and educational leadership. Over the last 19 years, he’s thrived as a teacher, educator, consultant, and leader.

Connect with Karl: Email | Website | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Erika Rath – Director of Student Services The Sacred Heart School of Montreal

The Priory School

Mood Meter

Casel – Advancing Social and Emotional Learning

SEL in Edu

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):
Do you want access to all the past guests on this show? Do you want a network with like-minded individuals and meet other high performing educators from around the world? If so, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Sign up to join the exclusive network and you’ll get access to live virtual networking events and special opportunities that will come out throughout 2021. I promise you I will not fill your inbox. you might get one email a month. If that sounds interesting. Go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker today’s guest is Karl Mercuri. Karl is the social and emotional learning coordinator at an elementary school out in the greater Montreal metropolitan area, but originally his journey into education. As here on this show, started back in Melbourne Australia, and he is obsessed with SEL social, emotional learning and, and answering the questions.


Sam Demma (01:06):

What do students really need and how do we teach the whole child? And how can we get our students to have a positive impact on society when leaving the walls of this classroom? The reason why I wanted to bring Karl on the show is because one, he was recommended by a past. And we give a shout out to Erika Rath during the interview. So Erika, if you’re listening, thank you so much, but also because I’m obsessed with the exact same things that Karl is, although he formally works on solving these problems day in and day out within one school, specifically working with grade four students with that being said, if you don’t already have a pen and paper nearby, definitely grab it because Karl shares so many resources, ideas, and exercises that you can use to make sure that your students are thriving mentally and emotionally during this trying time, I’ll see you on the other side, enjoy today’s interview talk soon, Karl, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show. We were introduced by past guest, Erika. You didn’t know me. I didn’t know you. And now here we are on this podcast. Why don’t you start by sharing with the audience who you are and how you got into the work you’re doing with young students and young people today?


Karl Mercuri (02:24):

Hey Sam, thank thanks for having me and a shout out to Erika for actually putting us in contact. Yeah, just a little bit about me. You, you can probably tell with the accent I’m not from, from Canada. I I arrived about two and a half years ago. I met my wife in Australia. I’m originally for, from Australia and my educational journey started 19 years ago. So I originally started as a gym teacher or we call ’em gym teachers here, but we call ’em PE teachers back at home. And and then halfway through my journey, I was really lucky. I had a great administrator who’s who was able to see a little bit of potential, I would say, and turn around and said, Karl, it’s about time you get into the classroom. So I shifted from the, the gym teachers to the classroom.


Karl Mercuri (03:19):

And from there, a lot of doors opened for me and especially a passion for wellbeing, student wellbeing, social, emotional learning. And I was really lucky. I was chosen to go and be trained in what we call a, it was a mental health and wellbeing course about 10 years ago in Australia, which was a, a, a framework called kids matter. And it was across Australia. And so I become a facilitator of that at my school. And then just everything basically flourished from there. All the passion started. So I went back and I did a little bit of studying behavior, been studying in I’m still studying at the moment in leadership. I’ve got a lot of, I would say training in SCL, social-emotional learning emotional intelligence, positive psychology, and then the world is easier oyster as they say. So I, so for me right now I, I hold a job at a beautiful little elementary school in Montreal called the Priory.


Karl Mercuri (04:22):

My role there is on the I’m the SEL coordinator. And I also, so day today, I’m, I’m the grade four teacher and the school SEL coordinator. Nice. And then week to week and month to month, I actually go out and consulting schools across Montreal. So I, you know, elementary or high and just help these schools really make social, emotional learning a priority. And how do we integrate it and how does it just become part of everyday teaching instead of just an extra. So I think that’s the really big thing at the moment and what we’re going through now, we need it more than ever.


Sam Demma (05:04):

It’s so true. It’s, it’s so, so true. You, you mentioned something that piqued my interest. You said after you did the training, that’s when the passion started flowing and you went back and got additional training and behaviors and you started learning a lot more, the, what clicked after that initial certification that you did about kids matter? Like what clicked after that, that made you kind of shift your perspective and decide to go down this new path?


Karl Mercuri (05:34):

Yeah, I, I would say there was, you know, the initial training, there was so many aha moments, you know, it’s like, ah, is this, this is why a child behaves this way, or this is why I’m getting these reactions in the classroom. Or this is why this you know, this, this, this 16 year old boy is telling me to get lost basically, you know, and, or, or girl, and, and, and just understanding the fundamentals of, of, of, you know, developmental stages of in life and, and why things happen. And, and yeah, I just wanted to know more, I wanted more answers really. And the only way you can do that is by being a lifelong learner. You know, if you, if you’re not a lifelong learner, you’re gonna really just basically plateau aren’t you. So it’s, I, I feel like as an educator, it’s our duty to continue prospering and, and, and setting that example for the, for the rest of the, our students basically.


Sam Demma (06:39):

And I think one of the best ways to ensure you keep learning is of course, to take on the role of the student, but then as you learn new content, teach it to others, because I find that teaching to others is one of the quickest ways to also learn the things. If you are speaking to your younger self before the certifi, giving yourself a mini masterclass, per se, on emotional intelligence and social, emotional learning, how would you define the two buckets? And what would you say to ensure that someone understood how important these two things are?


Karl Mercuri (07:13):

Yeah. If I was to te if I was to talk to my 16 year old, say, I would say, firstly, that it’s okay to feel the way you feel. Mm. You know and that emotions, you know, are, if you could look at an emotion as a form of communication and not as this daunting thing, that’s happening, this daunting cloud, that’s ha hovering over your head or this, these these crazy thoughts that are going on. You know, so I would say that, you know, a thought is actually not, it’s not tangible, is it? I would teach myself, it’s not gonna be there forever. And, and how do we reframe things? And, and that’s where I would go down that path. Yeah, definitely.


Sam Demma (08:06):

I love that, that, that makes so much sense. And it, it’s a important lesson to learn and reinforce right now because there’s so many different negative thoughts and thousands of thoughts that go through our minds every single a day, and being stuck at home, I think even increases the number of thoughts we’re having.


Karl Mercuri (08:25):

I would even go down the path when you’re saying this is, you know, we actually have to go out of our way right now to find a positive thought. We have to go out of our way right now to find a positive feeling. And, and it’s so essential, you know, like we know that the negative thoughts and the negative feelings, and I’m putting my con you know, my knowledge of AI and, and, and SCL that, that hat on right now, but we know the negative to they’re so strong and powerful and prevalent because that’s what we you know, that’s our makeup as a human being, where we are out to look out for the negatives as a survival mechanism, you know, but, but right now we need to actually physically and mentally actually look out for what is the positive to then reframe everything that’s going on right now, or ask, we’re just gonna really struggle up. You’re really not gonna see the, the light at the end of the tunnel, as they say.


Sam Demma (09:30):

It’s so true. And I’ve read that, that your beliefs or your thought, that’s the things that you hold true lead to your emotions, how you feel those emotions lead to your actions, what you do in any given moment, which then leads to the result you get. And so when we’re not getting that result that we want, you know, the first thing to do isn’t to change our action, but to ask ourselves, what am I choosing to believe? What am I thinking about? What thoughts are going through my head? I, how do you explain emotional intelligence? What is like, if you could define emotional intelligence, like, how would you do so what is emotional intelligence?


Karl Mercuri (10:04):

Yeah. That’s a big, oh my goodness. That’s a really big, I guess question. And it’s a great one, you know, but for me, it’s the awareness. Mm. Having an internal awareness of one’s self. Yep. having a really clear, not clear, but an understanding of social awareness of others. So what is my impact? What am I doing right now? That’s having an impact on someone else. Mm. You know, establishing that form of empathy for yourself. Also, we always say that empathy is about others looking at others, but even having some empathy about yourself, you know, it’s really, really powerful. It’s and that’s, that’s a lifelong skill, basically. Yeah. And then the last one is what, what really motivates you as a person? How are you gonna achieve these goals? You know, how, through this awareness, through this understanding of others through this empathy, how do I actually achieve these?


Sam Demma (10:59):

And for the educator for you listening right now, to this podcast you know, how does that, how does that person listening, take this idea and try and help their students become more social, emotionally aware and more emotionally intelligent, like is there, of course you do this, like you can consult with schools and you help them. But if someone wanted to take a quick nugget away that they could take back to their kids right now, what are, what is a low hanging fruit or something they could do to kickstart this conversation and put their kids on this path to developing that emotional intelligence?


Karl Mercuri (11:35):

I, I’m gonna be really honest. There’s this one tool called a mood meter. The mood meter is a super cool tool that comes out of it comes out of Yale university under the ruler approach. These guys are like doing some work in the field of social, emotional learning. And the reason why I love the mood meter is because it appeals to five year olds, but it also appeals to 18 year olds. Mm. And the mood meter is, is a, a resource where it’s a quadrant. It’s actually it’s a quadrant. We it’s broken up into sections. And the mood meter basically helps our students through understanding the amount of energy that’s running through their body, how pleasant they’re feeling to then find the emotional vocabulary. So you can actually a, a spot on the mood meter, which then replicates a, a, a specific emotive word.


Karl Mercuri (12:41):

So you gotta think this is an amazing tool, especially for 16, you know, 17 year olds or 15 year olds. Because if you have a check-in, you are about to start your, you go, all right, guys, you know, get your mood meter out or whatever. And let’s see where you’re at on the, the colored quadrants and the mood meter. The yellow is, is high energy, high pleasantness. So we are finding the happy, the excited, the motivated, the elated type of emotions. You got the red, which is high energy, but really unpleasant. That’s where you find the S the annoyed, the peeved, the, the, you know furious type of emotions. And then you’ve got the bottom, you’ve got low energy, super unpleasant. That’s where you find the sad, the that’s blue, the SADS, the, the press, the, the you know, really kind of like solid type of emotions.


Karl Mercuri (13:44):

And then you’ve got low energy, but high pleasantness. And that’s where you find calm, grateful, and so on. And the thing is with these guys, is if we can have check in these students can start to, they come in and they make this connection, right. I’ve walked into class right now. I’ve bumped into someone on the way through, I’ve forgotten my books. I haven’t had breakfast. I’m gonna do this check in right now. And I’m gonna put everything into context as to how I’m feeling and actually find the correct emotive word. Mm. And the, the reason why I love it is because if you ask someone right now, how you’re feeling, I’m happy, mad, or sad, , that’s all we have as vocabulary, or I’m like, oh, okay. But if we can extend that vocabulary, which is, that’s what the role of the mood meter is, then a teacher can actually accommodate and, and, and, and get to, to what they need to do for these students.


Karl Mercuri (14:51):

You know, if the student turns around and says to me, you know what, I am like super peeved right now, there’s a difference between peeved and annoyed. Cause peeved is you’re going little bit more unpleasant than what annoyed would be. So I would deal with that certain situation different to what annoyed would be. Mm. Does that make sense? If I, you know, got an answer from a child I’m feeling elated right now, compared to excited, well, then it’s, I’m gonna, I’m gonna deal. I’m gonna provide them with, you know, the interventions or whatever that they need, or the advice in a different manner. Cause it’ll be way more specific too.


Sam Demma (15:32):

I think it’s such a cool exercise because like, I’m even thinking about myself while you’re saying this and I don’t use many of those other emotions that I, that are probably on this chart. And to further that point, sometimes I just say, I I’m not feeling great, but I’m not like, I’m not even sure what it is. But if I had a menu in front of me, of all different emotions and options, I think it would make it a lot easier to, to pinpoint something down, which also, I think makes us feel better because when you’re not sure what it is, uncertainty like that breeds fear, and it breeds so many other negative emotions. But if you’re certain that you’re feeling a specific emotion, I think it makes you feel even more human. So it gives students the, the space to identify what the emotion is, understand that it might be a negative one, but at least they’re able to pinpoint why it is that and, and what’s happening.


Karl Mercuri (16:25):

And you, you just actually said by doing this by actually identifying a spec specific emotion, you are naturally self-regulating. Mm. So you’ve just said it in a roundabout way just then, but that’s what you do. You actually do reg self-regulate because you, you are actually now have the answer to why you’re feeling somewhere with that specific word.


Sam Demma (16:46):

Yeah. It makes sense because if I’m gonna pinpoint, oh, the emotion I’m looking for is that I’m angry. When I, when I say that I’m gonna like question myself and be like, I am I angry? Why am I angry? Like what’s going on right now? And that’s right. It starts this dialogue as opposed to maybe getting in trouble or yelling at a teacher. I’m having this little inner conversation with myself.


Karl Mercuri (17:06):

Yeah, am I really angry? Or am I just like, maybe I’m really jealous right now of something that’s happened between that’s and then you can really. Yeah. And then it’s that dialogue, that internal dialogue, but it’s also the external dialogue. Mm. Because that’s really important. Cause when you start to have that conversation and you go through that conversation, you’re like, you start to, to, to basically problem solve aren’t you you’re like, oh, this is why. Oh, okay. I get it now.


Sam Demma (17:36):

And yeah, I would say it even makes like, I haven’t done this yet, but I would, I would assume. And, and guess that it even makes the student or the person doing this more open to talking about the emotion with another person than if they didn’t do this exercise first. Very cool tool. I’m gonna link it in the show notes. While you said it, I very quickly searched it. And I, I found an image of it. It looks really cool that it looks like there’s over a hundered.


Karl Mercuri (18:02):

There’s a hundred, there’s a hundred I think it’s a hundred word. So there’s two of them. There’s one, which is the, the one without the word. So that’s where, that’s where you’ll actually use the grid. And then once you’ve found your spot, then you use the one with the word and you go, oh, okay. So this spot means this word. Cool. Yeah. I highly advise when you do that and I’ll, I’ll give you the link. There’s actually an app and it’s really cool. And then you can track your days and see what quadrant are you in on most days and what words are coming up really often. And you can, it’s really cool.


Sam Demma (18:37):

When would you recommend a, a, a educator uses this? Would it be at the beginning of a day of school? Obviously, I don’t. I mean, you, you could do it every day, I guess, but one would be ideal times to use this sort of an exercise?


Karl Mercuri (18:47):

I generally would do it any like transitional times on the arrival to school after like a lunch time, you know, when the kids come back cause you don’t know what’s happened. Yep. And that always has an impact on your class afterwards. It depends even, you know, I’ve even used it as a reflective tool after a lesson, you know, how, how are you feeling now after we’ve feel this? Yeah. Gives me a bit of feedback as to how the lesson’s gone too, you know? So yeah. So many different ways to use it, like yeah. And, and, and it just needs, this is where where my passion is, this, this kind of stuff needs to be incorporated as part of just everyday teaching. Yeah. It shouldn’t just be an extra, it should be part of, of what we do, you know.


Sam Demma (19:31):

That’s so true. It’s so, so true. And if there’s an educator listening who wants to learn more about SEL and emotional intelligence, what are some learning resources or tools that you found helpful that you think they should look into or start reading.


Karl Mercuri (19:46):

Your number one? I guess web, well, your number one, I guess website that you would go to is the Casel website. Mm. These guys are at the forefront of social, emotional learning research. They actually have within the website, they have categorized programs. Very cool. So you can go there, you can, you can look up and, and look at the competencies, the SEL, the five SEL competencies, and look at a program that fits certain competencies to meet your school’s needs. Mm. So there’s, there’s a lot of that, but I would even say, go, as far as saying before you do any of that, it’s really important to just look into only and see what you’re already doing. Cuz you’ll be very surprised. Schools are already doing a lot of this. Yeah. They just haven’t actually labeled it as, oh, this is part of SEL. We didn’t really know, you know? And so maybe do a little bit of auditing as to what you’re doing already and then just plug the holes basically and whatever you’re not doing, then go out and find the answers.


Sam Demma (20:55):

Love it. Very cool. Yeah. and through, through social, emotional learning, I’m certain that you’ve seen students transform. Now you work with younger students but I’m sure you’ve, you’ve seen many breakthroughs or when kids work through something emotionally themselves and they come out the other side maybe there’s even been some dramatic examples where this has had a huge impact on a young person. I’m curious to know if any of those stories come to mind and if it’s a very serious story, you can change a student’s name. And if they’re, if it isn’t actually even, or student, but some something you’ve heard of before, I would love to hear it as well. The reason I’m asking is because, you know, the person listening might be considering quitting this vocation or calling of teaching, do the, the challenges that they’re faced with this year and a story of transformation gets to the heart of the reason why most educators start teaching. You have an ability to change a young person’s life to put them on a totally different trajectory. And hearing that story could get them back on track and back bought into the reason why they started again, you work with really young kids. So it’s a little different when I ask a high school teacher. But do any of those stories stick out to you?


Karl Mercuri (22:04):

Yeah. I’m just trying to think of something that is, I would say before I go onto a story, I would say that just being vulnerable. Yeah. And real is probably the most powerful thing that you can do in a classroom. Yeah. With the children actually admitting when you make mistakes. Actually, you know, saying that, you know what, I, I don’t know the answer to this. Yeah. Let’s find it out together. You know, actually explaining how you’re feeling is to me is the most powerful because then these, and, and especially if adolescents like youth, they will respect you all because they actually know that you are not this robotic person that has all the answers. And so the vulnerability to me is probably the, the, the biggest and most important aspect for me, of, of, of teaching in terms of from an SEL perspective and just from an engagement perspective too. So yeah. But I’m trying to think. Yeah. I think you’ve put me on a swap here with, a bit of a, a, a story I’m not really sure right now.


Sam Demma (23:27):

No, that’s totally fine.


Karl Mercuri (23:28):

Maybe leave it with me while we’re speaking. If something comes up.


Sam Demma (23:33):

Yeah, that sounds great. Like, even if you’ve seen a moment where a kid looks confused and then after an exercise thinks, whoa, like this makes so much sense, you know? Yeah. like those aha moments are really interesting. Yeah.


Karl Mercuri (23:45):

Actually, something’s come up just now. Just see, there we go. I knew it would it was funny. I was, I was doing a lesson called expected and unexpected Hmm. And teaching my, my class. And it was, it was quite funny, actually, this is more of a funny one teaching my class that, that that if you do something expected from a social perspective and from an understanding, if I’m gonna do something expected, then the impact that it has on somebody else, else. Right. They will have a, a positive type feeling towards me or understanding towards me or they will, they, you know, the, the, the reception would be more accommodating, I guess like that. And so I’m in the class and I, and I, and I’m explaining that to them. And then halfway through the class, I just fall on the floor, fall down.


Karl Mercuri (24:59):

I start rolling on, on the ground, rolling everywhere and just doing absolutely crazy stuff and getting it up. And I I’m throwing things everywhere. And the, and turning tables upside down. And then the, the children look at me and they , and then I put the word unexpected up. And so my advice to them, and, and this was a huge, like big aha moment to them because I said, what did I just do? The in like, that was really unexpected. Okay. If that was unexpected, how did that make you feel? Oh, I was feeling really uncomfortable. I didn’t know what you were doing. I had some doubtful thoughts and, and, and I was starting to think, is this got crazy? You know? And, and, and so we, we started to put things together, right. We started to put kind of like scenarios together, and this is where the kids really got it, as I said to them.


Karl Mercuri (26:01):

And this was probably the thing that got to me. I said to ’em, if I’m walking down the, the street and someone’s walking in front of me and, and they drop a $5 bill or a $10 bill, what would be expected. And the scary thing is not all of them said, I’d give the money back. And so me, that was a bit of a, wow, we have a, we now have the most important job right now is to teach our kids and our youth, that it is expected to do those things that then will have a positive impact, like this snowball effect. Mm. Because if I just pick up that $5 bill and put it in my pocket, that’s super unexpected, but what happened? So the next person, if they put the $5 bill in their pocket and the next person, if they put the $5, you know, we are starting to create this kind of unexpected type scenarios and culture and world. And it’s just not what we wanna, what we wanna do.


Sam Demma (27:18):

Yeah, I love that. I love that analogy so much. My, my world issues teacher in grades 12 have taught me a lesson that a small, consistent action can make a massive global change. And it goes both ways. Like you’re saying a small positive action can compound and snowball to a massive positive impact, but the reverse is also true. And his, his theory led both a good friend of mine and myself to start our, our own theory, like our own hands on project to see if his, his lesson was correct by picking up garbage. Yeah. And it led to filling almost 2,500 bags so far, and we’re still going so it’s yeah. Cool analogy just made me think of my teacher. And I love that lesson so much. If, if people are, if you’re listening right now, maybe you can’t even do this in your school, even if it’s virtually. Yeah. I love that. That was so powerful. If someone wants to reach out to you, which at this point should be expected with all the amazing information you’re sharing what would be the best way for someone to get in touch with you? Can they email you?


Karl Mercuri (28:25):

Email or I’m on Twitter? I’m pretty active on Twitter and LinkedIn. Email is kmercuri@priory.qc.ca, LinkedIn is Karl Mercuri and Twitter is @Karl_Mercuri. They are probably the best three platforms. Perfect. and, and to be honest, if there’s any those educators out there, if you want a little bit of a heads up in terms of SEL, there’s a really, really cool Facebook group for those educators called SEL in Edu. And so it’s just a great place to start and a lot of active people, and they’re just willing to help out and give some advice, but I would really love, yeah. I’m happy to help out in any way possible.


Sam Demma (29:06):

I love that. Karl, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I appreciate the insight into your brain and the research you’ve done and the work you’re doing. And it’s really cool to see you doing this. I appreciate it because I wish I had someone like you in my school when I was growing up and hopefully 20 years from now, we can see every single school having a person like you doing the work you’re doing. It’s really cool.


Karl Mercuri (29:28):

Thanks for having me. That’s, it’s been an awesome experience and a great discussion.


Sam Demma (29:34):

Cool. 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.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Karl Mercuri

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.

Brent McDonald – Superintendent of Education and Information Technology UGDSB

Brent McDonald – Superintendent of Education and Information Technology UGDSB
About Brent McDonald

Brent McDonald (@Brent4ED) is currently a Superintendent of Education with the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB). For the past 10 years his portfolios in this role have included; Safe, Equitable and Inclusive Schools, Information and Technology, Parent Engagement, Leadership Development and Succession Planning and working with his Family of Schools within the district.  He’s also the President of Educating Computer Network of Ontario (ECNO).

Brent is passionate about student success and ensuring that all students have the resources and supports needed to be their best. He is also passionate about learning in the classroom, educational technology, and school leadership.

Connect with Brent: Email | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Upper Grand District School Board

Educating Computer Network of Ontario

Ray Dalio, “Principles”

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 has now become a good friend of mine. His name is Brent McDonald. He’s the superintendent of education and it at the UGDSB the Upper Grand District School Board. He’s also the President of ECNO. They have a strong role in providing leadership and direction to school boards in regards to it, he’s also been a classroom teacher, a vice principal, a principal he’s done every single job you could imagine in a school maybe next to being a custodian. And he has so many valuable insights and ideas to share on the podcast today. I’m super excited because you’re going to learn so much from this interview. There are so many nuggets and so many insights. I’ll see you on the other side. Talk soon. Brent, thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educators podcast. It’s a pleasure to have you take maybe, you know, one to two minutes to share with the audience who you are and why you initially got into the work you do with young people today.


Brent McDonald (01:03):
Yeah. Great, Sam, thanks so much for having me today to start with it’s a real pleasure and really appreciate the opportunity to do some reflection too, for for the podcast today and, and really pleased that you’ve got this series going, but I’ll, I’ll share a little bit about myself. First and foremost I’m a father to two youth as well. One is in second year, a university, and one just about to head into a post secondary experiences at a grade 12. So very interested in the work that you’re doing and I know we’ve we’ve spoken a past too about connecting with the youth in our school board and hope we get to continue that when we get on the other side of things here too. For me currently, I’m an educator by trade I guess.


Brent McDonald (01:48):
And I, my role right now is as a Superintendent of Education with the Upper Grand District School Board. So for those that aren’t sure where that is. That’s a Guelf and Orangeville area. And then kinda out to the four one, and then north up into some beautiful country around Mount forest and Harrison, just about an hour and a half hour west of Toronto. I’m so close to the city, but also some, some beautiful landscape that’s there. And what’s awesome is we’ve got a school board that is an incredible mix of diverse of students and families and a geography. So some very rural country areas, which are just beautiful and then some really vibrant more cities type centers, wealth in Orangeville, for example. So lots of, a lot of the challenges that we see around the province are replicated within the walls of our board and right now as a Superintendent of Education I get to get out into our schools and, and follow up with students and staff and our principals and vice principals that run our buildings.


Brent McDonald (02:49):
And that’s fantastic for me. I love that opportunity to get out and get into our schools. Previously I was for about 10 years of principal, myself to at about four different schools in our area. And just loved that opportunity to to lead and be part of incredible staff and student bodies that that were just full of motivation and energy to, to do things. And and I think part and parcel what I look back on the work that I’ve done. Those experiences as, as a teacher previous to that, it was a core French teacher and a science teacher, or an a grade one teacher. All of those experiences when I look back at what I like about my work, the most it’s the, the motivation and the, and the power and influence that we get from, from students and the communities who are charged up about doing incredible things.


Brent McDonald (03:40):
And I know we started just before the interview, talking about your project that you were working on around picking up garbage and, and making your communities better. And when you can harness sort of that spirit and that energy that people want to, to do better and to improve and be a part of that, it’s energizing. So for me I think back when I was more your age and kind of looking at where I wanted to go in life, I had, I had multiple jobs. I had all sorts of jobs and that was, I loved working and had a lot of different experiences to try and see where I wanted to land and what I wanted to be in. And I think when I started, started to reflect on where I wanted to land in terms of a career. I look back at the work that I had done and all the opportunities that I’d ever had to work with youth and students and to be inspired and humbled by their creativity and their hope and their optimism that they had.


Brent McDonald (04:38):

That’s what did it for me? And I said, no, I, I need to be involved in this. This is a very fulfilling for me personally and professionally but also what an opportunity to lead and to guide. And I think that was the second reason that I landed into the work that I did as a student, as a teacher and then a administrator. And now into the role that I’m in is that I had the great fortune to have some incredible role models as teachers, myself and not just around the content of the curriculum that we were being taught. And when I look back at what they taught me, yes, the curriculum was, was very important, but it was more those life lessons and the work that they taught me about the attitudes that are important to have going into life and the opportunities and the belief that they had. And I thought, you know, if I can turn around and rec replicate even a part of that for students in the work that I would do, what a great what a great opportunity to have and one that shouldn’t be squandered. So, so that’s probably where I got the idea and where I got the energy and sort of the push is, or, or influences or motivators that guided me down to the work that I get to do today.


Sam Demma (05:48):

I love that. And you mentioned the work you do today. A lot of it surrounds staying in touch with staff members, touring schools every 10 days or so to check in and see how everyone’s doing. What are you hearing from those teachers in those students, in those schools? What challenges are they currently being pressed with and faced with?


Brent McDonald (06:08):

Well, very similar to to the challenges that most industries are facing right now and, and your you’re right. Sam. So the work that we do it is I don’t work in a school. I worked out of an office right now. But I do have responsibilities for, for a group of schools, but I also lead our information technology department as well. And I’ve got a fantastic group of, of managers and staff and teams that help support that work. And so for me, it’s, it’s twofold. It’s I get to, I get to see what’s happening in our classrooms, and I get to have a hand and work with incredible people to help support students in schools and our staff that are trying to teach remotely and, and work remotely and, and get involved. So that’s pretty exciting work that we get to do.


Brent McDonald (06:57):
The other work I get to do is around leadership development and succession planning for the board. So working with with new teachers, young teachers, to encourage them into leadership pathways in whatever way they want to get involved in. And we talk a lot about reaching down to students and doing the same thing for them too. So we do try and get into our schools as, as often as I can. We, we dedicate usually one day a week to getting into our school buildings. We’ve pulled back on that a lot to this September and October, just out of respect for not getting too many people into our schools. But we reach out virtually. So it’s noon today, and I’ve probably talked to about five different schools already this morning about what’s happening and there’s ways that we can do that too.


Brent McDonald (07:40):

But the challenges I’d say that they are facing are very, very similar to to what other other industries and other sectors are. And for us, and, and Sam, you look back at your school career, I’d say the one thing about our profession and our sector is that it’s typically as predictable as anything it’s by clockwork. We’ve got school year calendars or regular year calendars that we fall on. And we have the school year calendar where sometimes looks the exact same year over year, over year for decades after decades. So, you know, the first week of school programs and initiatives that happen the, the fall activities that happen that Terry Fox runs that happen every September, the sports teams that always start in the same schedule, the graduation, the proms it’s as predictable as clockwork forever, and ever, and ever. And and kids, I think students look, look forward to that.


Brent McDonald (08:36):

I remember a student, myself being in grade five, thinking I get to have that grade six teacher next year, that everybody’s been talking about it’s finally my turn or it’s graduation. Next year, we get to go on the grade eight trip, or we get to do these milestones that that people look forward to. And all of a sudden that’s turned upside down and gone. And the predictability and the consistency that’s been involved in people’s lives forever. All of a sudden gets, it gets to be a very uncertain environment. And and that causes a lot of challenges for staff and students who built careers and, and expectations around what’s coming next and plans. Particularly for students who thrive on routines or who need routines and structure to be successful and to show their best their best efforts every single day for them not knowing is, is, is an incredible part of our incredible challenge them to overcome.


Brent McDonald (09:34):

So that I would say from a student’s point of view and staff, to some extent the, the uncertainty and the constant change throwing at a system that’s typically very traditional has been very, very difficult for folks. I’d say from a, from a system perspective too, and the work that I get to do, we’re typically a very, very collaborative organization. So before we launch an, a, an idea or an implementation, or, or think about how we’re going to implement a new idea or, or, or, or any type of new project there’s a lot of time that goes into the planning, the bringing different voices around the table to get input running it by students and staff and all of our different stakeholders that we have. And I’d say we have not had that luxury in the last four to five months to be able to do that.


Brent McDonald (10:31):

So for us, our, the way that we work has been changed an awful lot, and we’ve had to become, you know, I’ll use those words like nimble and agile that, that everybody talks about. And the, the dreaded pivot word that we’ve had to do so much more than than we ever have before. And for for our sector and our educators and students too. But at a system level, that’s probably been the most difficult pieces that are traditional consultative processes that we put in place in our collaborative efforts that we rely on have had to be speeded up in such greater fashion than we’re typically used to. And we’re doing a good job of it, but it is a change, right? It’s, it’s been a big change. So those would be some of the big the two big changes that I’d see from a student perspective. And then from a systemic perspective.


Sam Demma (11:22):

That’s awesome. Yeah, someone mentioned to me the other day, the state of education could be compared to throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. And I’m curious to know if there’s anything that has stuck so far for you, if you have any unique ideas that are working, or if teachers have reported back to you or any principals saying, you know, Brent, this has really worked or on the other side, you know, this was a total flop and we learned something from it. Either of those things are extremely valuable. And if you have any to share, that’d be awesome.


Brent McDonald (11:53):

Yeah, Sam, I’d say for us, the one thing that we have learned the most, or that’s been most apparent, and I’d say up until, you know, September or even October, we haven’t had a lot of time to be able to pause and reflect on what’s happened because it’s been so busy, we’ve been busy throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what happens. So we, we haven’t had a ton of time to reflect, but the reflections that we’ve done and when, and we’re starting to do them more and more now, which I’m pleased about. But what we, what I’d say we’ve learned a lot that we have seen is for the first time ever in, in my career in the spring everybody stopped doing everything and focused on one thing, and that was getting getting us to work remotely and to have teachers and students learn remotely when we in the spring, when everything was shut down.


Brent McDonald (12:47):

So all of a sudden 5,000 staff members and 34,000 students in our board had one goal that we had to do really quickly and had to make sure it happened. And we don’t do that very often. Usually we are juggling, you know, curriculum expectations, we’re judging or juggling technology expectations were juggling. A lot of the work that we’re doing around social justice and whether it’s our anti-oppression work that we’re doing, or anti-black racism, all of a sudden everything funneled into one, one project as an entire group. And and we had to be conscious of all those other things that we did, but really it was one, one goal. And we did it. And if someone had asked me back in January, you know, do you think everybody in this board could, could just walk out of the buildings and work remotely and live remotely in the next two months?


Brent McDonald (13:37):

I’d say, no, that’ll take us years to years to really pull off in any cohesive way, given what everything else is is on everyone’s plates. But all of a sudden we didn’t have anything else on our plates. We had one thing and watching everyone come together and work together and have that spirit of cooperation and collaboration was, was fantastic. So when I say what stuck and what, what worked back to your question? I’d say we learned a lot about what we can do if we really focus and have clear, consistent goals and and keep it simple and small we can move fast and as a big system. So that was exciting for me to see I think mistake wise, the, you asked that as well mistake wise. Yes, absolutely. It’s not perfect. What we’re working on and that’s okay.


Brent McDonald (14:29):

We talk a lot about failure in our system and that failure is, is is a really good thing because you learn from it and if you’re failing and learning, that’s okay. That’s how you get better at it. And we have to be able to do that. And there, there’s a whole show that you could probably do on, on failure or a whole talk we can do on, on how you manage that. But I think we’ve created a culture of of safety for, for staff and students as best we can and by safety, I mean not necessarily physically safe, but really being able to say, Hey, you know what, we can try some things and if they don’t work, it’s okay, nobody’s going to get too upset. We’re going to fix it and move forward and learn from it.


Brent McDonald (15:10):

And I think that’s what we’ve done the last little bit. So from all of the granular mistakes that we make every day, and, you know, it’s seven months later and people are still not unmuting their mics on zoom calls, right. Those really small things that come to the, to the much bigger mistakes that we’re making. And for us, some of those have been trying to solve problems that really don’t exist. And and under estimating people in some respects too. So the example I use is we spent, we spent weeks worried about students three and four year olds having to wear masks all day and that, how can that possibly happen? Well, it did. We asked them and we provided resources and, and teaching to them. And I can go into a school at the end of the day on a Friday.


Brent McDonald (16:00):

And there’s a three-year-old has been there all week, all day, still wearing their mask and completely fine with that. So something that was a big worry for us in our planning turned out to not be a problem at all, and for most people but certainly not to the extent that we thought it was going to be as an example some of the other underestimations that we’ve made. And it’s just because it’s our first time through a lot of it, I’d say we planned. And we, we underestimated the amount of people that would take up remote learning, for example, through COVID. So, you know, our schools are open and we have options around remote, and we might’ve fought somewhere under 10%, five to 10% might pick that up and so we planned appropriately for that. And our board, we’re sitting more around 17% now, but there’s many boards that are sitting around 40 to 50% of their population that have opted for remote.


Brent McDonald (16:50):

Those numbers are staggeringly more than what we thought they would have been to start with. And we didn’t know. And again, didn’t have that time through the consultation to really find out. So it was best guesses. And so I’ve seen some areas where we have underestimated either whether it’s at the student level or systemically some of those pieces. And we’ll learn from that. And now, you know, the next time that we venture down this road we’ll know what’s a problem. What’s a real problem. And what’s not a real problem. So that’s been, that’s been interesting to watch, and I’d say we’ve learned from that.


Sam Demma (17:23):

There’s a gentleman named Ray Dalio wrote a book titled “Principles,” and we’re the most successful hedge fund managers in the world. And he has a concept known as the error log. And it’s a document shared by his entire company where every time a mistake is made instead of a manager, figuring it out, you personally log the mistake yourself, explain what happened and what you learned from it. And he says like every week, his old team reviews, this error discusses it publicly so that every single person in the company learns from one person’s mistake. And I thought it was a brilliant, brilliant concept. And you had so many other pieces of wisdom in this book. And you also mentioned, you know, the importance of resilience, which comes from overcoming challenges or going through failures and seeing the resilience of a three-year-old or a four-year-old must be a motivating site for you, especially for anybody. I’m curious to know, you know, those sites motivates you. What else keeps you motivated? What drives you to keep doing this work, even when times are really difficult and tough?


Brent McDonald (18:28):

Well, you, you, you nailed it right. There really is the youth that we have and their voices, and and seeing the hope that they have. So I’d say also the lessons that we learned from them and started the questions today, you know, why did I get into this work? And, and the other reason which lends into this motivator is, is that desire to keep learning. And we learn as much today from our youth, as I do from, from any professional development series or, or workshop. And, you know, when we look at the great work that’s happening around our environmental work that we’re doing, or around our anti-oppression anti black racism, anti-oppression work that we’re doing, our students are often the ones leading the charge and teaching us about about how things need to be. And, and sometimes we needed to take a step back and really look at at, at what they’re doing and what they’re asking and what they’re saying.


Brent McDonald (19:27):

And so those lessons that we learned from our, our youth and the questions that they put on the table holding us as the adults and the, the, the leaders and systems accountable for what we’re doing. That’s, that’s incredible. That’s a, that’s, that’s motivating for me and helps move us forward and think, yeah, these are the, these are the leaders of our future. So it’s up to us to get barriers out of the way so they can do the work that they want to see as they go forward. And, you know, I don’t know if it’s always been that way, but I’d say the student voice is, is, is alive and, and more present now than, than I’ve seen in years past. And there’s venues for it. And, you know, your, your show’s very much like that too. It’s bringing student voices and ideas for students forward. But we’re also seeing it in so many other places. So I think having that energy behind you, when you know that you’re in a school system that has 34,000 voices and opportunities ahead of them, that’s, that’s motivating you. Can’t not be motivated by that, that gets you out of bed in the morning.


Sam Demma (20:32):

I love that. That’s awesome. And for the educators who might be listening, hopefully they’re not struggling with motivation issues, but in the, in the case that they might be, and they’re struggling to get out of bed. Maybe in fact, it’s their first year in education. If I could take you back to your first year in education, and, you know, you, you started, you were a little bit uncertain, maybe really passionate to get going, but confused and overwhelmed with all the different systems and terminology. And there’s the, just, just the change of starting something new. What pieces of advice would you share with your past self and with other educators who are just starting to get into this role, especially during a year like like 2020 with the global pandemic.


Brent McDonald (21:16):

That’s a great question, Sam, in one night, we got to remind ourselves all the time and I alluded to it earlier, but I think if I went back to my first-year teaching self probably a lot of fear around failure and not doing things right. And I’d say I probably spent way too much energy worrying about that. Then just trying some things and seeing how it goes and being okay if it didn’t and moving forward. So I learned those lessons along the way, but I, I probably wish I learned those more quickly probably would have had a lot less sleepless nights as a, as a brand new teacher. I’d also say reaching out to, to colleagues and you know, when I first started, I think I remember my first email that I ever wrote as a teacher it’s we email was just coming on.


Brent McDonald (22:04):

And when that happened, which is a very sad thing to say, but I remember the first time that we got to do that as a teacher, and now the ability for teachers to connect and collaborate be outside the walls of their classroom is phenomenal. The, the PD that’s available on on social media, on Twitter feeds on, on that you can access at the, you know, whether it’s through podcasts, whatever it might be, you can get ideas and collaborate and make connections with people more than we ever could when I first started. So my advice would be not to encourage youth youth and new teachers to the profession, especially when you’re feeling up against the wall on something or worried about something, reach out and put the question out there. And I see it every day when I’m looking through feeds in the comments, the, the support that’s out there in the broader educational community for, for staff is fantastic and feels really supportive when you read it. And and there’s a, a great venue there for, for people, as opposed to just walking down the hall. There’s nothing wrong with walking down the hall and texting with your teaching partner down the way, but you have access to so much more than you ever did before. So use it would be my advice.


Sam Demma (23:16):

That’s awesome. And if someone wanted to get in touch with you, I know you’re busy and I have so much going on, but maybe there’s a fellow educator somewhere in the world who has ideas to share or wants to just bounce ideas around what would be the best way for them to reach out to you?


Brent McDonald (23:32):

Probably probably on Twitter. It would be the best way if if they’re looking for that. So my Twitter handles is @Brent4ED. So absolutely would be one of the best ways to reach out. You could do that or go into the Upper Grand District School Board website, and they can find me on there and make a connection. I just told people they should do it, just connect them and share ideas. And I think that’s what we have to keep on doing in this profession, especially as we’re all facing new challenges and new problems that we’ve never had before. We don’t need to solve it by ourselves. So it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off of each other and and see where we can go.


Sam Demma (24:14):

Right? That’s a great way to end this episode. Thank you so much for coming on here. I hope people reach out. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you, and I look forward to seeing you again in person when all of this passes or starts to change and adjust.


Brent McDonald (24:26):

We’ll definitely make that happen. Sam, I was talking to folks today who we’re hoping that we can continue down that thread too. So we’ll look forward to having you back and a huge thanks again for allowing me to be on your show today.


Sam Demma (24:38):

Thanks a lot. You bet. And there you have it. Another amazing interview on the High Performing Educator podcast. If you enjoyed this episode and liked it, consider reaching out to Brent, he would love to hear from you. And if you have your own ideas and insights that you’d like to share, please shoot us an email at info@samdemma.com. So we can also get you on the podcast. And as always, if you’re benefiting from this content and you’re enjoying it, consider leaving a rating and review. So more people just like yourself can find it and also consume it and learn new things for their own students in schools. Anyways, I’ll see you on the next episode. Talk soon.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Brent McDonald

The High Performing Educator Podcast was brought to life during the outbreak of COVID-19 to provide you with inspirational stories and practical advice from your colleagues in education.  By tuning in, you will hear the stories and ideas of the world’s brightest and most ambitious educators.  You can expect interviews with Principals, Teachers, Guidance Counsellors, National Student Association, Directors and anybody that works with youth. You can find and listen to all the episodes for free here.

Dr. Seth Goldsweig – Vice Principal at The Leo Baeck Day School and PhD in Educational Leadership

Dr. Seth Goldsweig - Vice Principal at The Leo Baeck Day School and PhD in Educational Leadership
About Seth Goldsweig

Dr. Seth Goldsweig(@SGoldsweig) is the vice principal at The Leo Baeck Day School in Toronto. He has been in formal education for 17 years. His PhD is in educational leadership and believes that education is a tool to help students find their voice and change the world.

Connect with Seth: Email | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Leo Baek Day School Website

Padlet

Easy Baking Recipes for Kids

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):
Do you want access to all the past guests on this show? Do you want to network with like-minded individuals and meet other high performing educators from around the world? If so, go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Sign up to join the exclusive network and you’ll get access to live virtual networking events and other special opportunities that will come out throughout 2021. I promise you I will not fill your inbox. you might get one email a month. If that sounds interesting. Go to www.highperformingeducator.com. Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today’s guest is Dr. Seth Goldsweig. He is the vice principal of the Leo Baeck day school in Toronto. I had the pleasure of speaking in front of his entire student body last year before COVID 19. And it is my absolute pleasure to bring him back on the show here for you today.


Sam Demma (00:59):
He has been in formal education for 17 years, has a PhD in education leadership, and thinks that education is a tool, a very strong tool to help help students find their voice and change the world. The other day, he sent me an email telling me that one of his students at his school is working on building the reactor that’s in the middle of iron man’s chest, and he’s supporting this kid on his venture to learn about technology and bring this project together. And I’m sure in this interview, you will hear Dr. Seth’s energy just shine through in his responses. I hope you enjoy this, I’ll see you on the other side. Seth, thank you so much for coming on the high performing educators podcast. It’s a, it’s a pleasure to have you.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (01:42):
You it’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you.


Sam Demma (01:45):
Can you share with the audience who you are and what got you into the work you do with young people today?


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (01:52):
Sure. My name is Seth gold. So I’m the vice principal at the Leo Baeck day school in Toronto. And I’ve been, this is my, I think 11th year as a vice principal. I started a school before, now is my eighth year at this school. And I’ve been in education for I think, 17 or 18 years. What got me into it. I mean, many things. Certainly, I love that feeling when when you see a kid starting to feel really good about him or herself and know you played a part in that, it’s just, it, it, it makes you feel warm all over. It’s just a really special feeling. You know, you had a part in, in someone’s success. There’s a selfish reason. I think kids are our future and and I’m only gonna be in this business until, until I retire and I wanna make sure we’re in, we’re in good shape for the future.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (02:44):
So I, you know, I wanna make sure that they’re set up to succeed and then I think the most important one though Sam, is that kids are amazing. Can I tell you a short story about something that happened to me today? Absolutely. I hear that a student we’ll call him Ben. Ben is looking for me, right? Dr. G Dr. Goldsweig. Ben needs you. Okay. So I like, he’s not in my waiting for me in my office. I go, finally, I find him outside Ben, you know, what’s going on? Oh, I had to ask you something. I made a pinata for my friend; it’s her birthday. And I wanted to know if I could hang up my pinata and so she could hit it. So here I’m worried, like there’s some big, like major thing going on. He had a fight or he’s upset about something stress, but no it’s cuz he had made a pinata for his friend and they wanted to to set it up. It was her birthday, I think, hours making the pinata. It was, you know, it’s things like that, that happened every day that you’re surprised by their creativity and what they do. And it just, it makes it really special.


Sam Demma (03:44):
How do you cultivate a school culture where kids decide to make pinatas and ask you to help them and hang it up? I think that’s a very unique culture you’ve built. And I’m curious to know if you think there’s any specific traits of students that you’ve encouraged in them to have them doing things like that.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (04:05):
I think it, listen, it all starts with the teachers. You know, if it’s happening in the classroom, that’s happening elsewhere to try to, you have to cultivate a, a love of experimentation and learning and, and inquiry. And, and if you are interested in what the kids have to share, then I think they’re gonna keep sharing. There, there’s a study that shows about creativity and the most creative people are kids in SK and then every year we get less and less and less creative. And and they did this by asking about paper clips, how many different things can you do with a paper clip? Mm. And adults will come up with a few things, you know, I can put paper in it. Maybe I can use it to like, hang my keys or something. Kids start asking, well, what color can it be?


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (04:51):
What’s it made out of, can it be different sizes? Can it, and so, so if you, if you use the kids imagination as a model and you just keep keep encouraging it, then I think you end up with a, a school culture that does that the other day, a kid comes up to me that Mr. Gold or Dr. Goldstein, I’m trying to figure out how to build an arc reactor from Ironman. And so he showed me, had this this whole diagram and he’s trying to figure out the technology for reactor every day. He says he gets a little closer. He shows me the updates and my job’s simple. I just have to listen and say, that’s amazing. Keep going. I can’t wait to hear the updates. So I think if you just show an interest in the kids, they’re gonna, they’re gonna thrive.


Sam Demma (05:35):
That’s awesome. And times are different right now with COVID we’ve been presented with unique challenges. What are some challenges that you’ve been faced with as a school that you’ve overcome and maybe even a mistake or two that you’ve made that you’ve learned from that you think is valuable to share?


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (05:52):
The the challenges are numerous. The mistakes are numerous and learning is numerous. You know, one of the, one of the challenges community is really big at my school. And we, we were very lucky for, for many, many years that you could physically come into contact with people and community physically, whether it’s having a school barbecue or, or having a new parent breakfast all of these things that, that make community possible. And so now we find ourselves in a situation where we still wanna build community, but everyone has to be physically separate. And so we’ve had to get creative in how we do that. So some of it is doing things online. Some of it is, you know, for our new parent breakfast, we had a as online zoom, but we still, we, we wanted the breakfast to be part of it.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (06:38):
So when they dropped their kids off at school, we gave them boxed breakfast as a way of saying, you know, sit down, eat when we have our, our our orientation. Let’s try it, let’s try and make it special. You know buddies, we have a whole buddy program where big, our older kids are with our younger kids, which is really, I think, an important part of our school, that kids, when they go into grade four and they they suddenly become up till grade three, they’re the little buddies. And then at grade four, they become the big buddies. It’s a big, important moment for them. And how do you do that when you can’t have kids come into contact with each other? So we’re trying new things, we’re trying a pen pal system, or we might do an introduction over zoom, and then they start perhaps creating a, a Padlet together, which is an online program.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (07:22):
So we have to look at it at new ways. You know, I think another challenge is we have some kids who are learning in class and some kids who are learning at home and how do you meet the needs of everyone at the same time the teacher are finding it very it’s time. It’s really hard to be there for, for so many different people. And I think so part of it is trying things and as I said, failing miserably, and I think that’s an important part of the learning process. Part of it is just getting used to the routine. And part of it is sort of giving teachers the space to, to know that I support them and that , you know, I can only ask you to try as hard as you can. I can’t ask more than that. And so if if they’re trying things and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, you know, hopefully they know that that that I, I, I support them.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (08:12):
And as long as we just keep trying to, to meet everyone’s needs the best of our ability, then we’ll, we’ll get there. It’s not the same as being in person. But, but there’s a, a certain understanding the times are different. So there’s a flexibility that, that comes on, you know, and I think the, the other piece is, is the things that make school amazing outside of the classroom mm. Where it’s clubs, sports teams, field trips and, and those rethinking how we’re doing them. So we, we thought figured out a way to do student council. So that’s gonna come back. Some of our field trips now are virtual field trips. There’s a definite loss. You know, we have kids in grade eight who are, you know, ready to be the stars of the basketball team or the hockey team. And, and it’s a loss for them that, that they’re not able to do that. And, and so some things we don’t have answers for, we’ve not yet figured out how to create a basketball team to compete against other schools. But we’ll, we’ll keep working at it.


Sam Demma (09:04):
I had a conversation with another educator who said, maybe this year, we just do e-sport tournaments and play against other schools on PlayStation or Xbox. And I thought it was a pretty unique idea, but it, it takes out the physical aspect of it. And a kid who may have been dedicated to basketball’s whole life. Maybe I didn’t play video games, and isn’t a good online eSports gamer, but so many unique ideas. You have kids hanging pinatas and building iron man suits. What, what can you share in terms of a story? I’m sure you have dozens over the years. What, what can you share of a story where a student has been impacted by something you’ve done in the school? And maybe it’s totally changed their life and education. Oftentimes we don’t even know the impact we’re having until 10, 15 years down the line. And they write us this letter that we keep in a folder on our desk. Have you had a story like that of a student and you can change their name for the purpose of this podcast? The reason I’m asking you to share is because an educator might be listening, who’s a little burnt out and lacking hope. And I think it’s those stories that remind us why education is so important.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (10:14):
So I had a unique opportunity. I’ve been out of the classroom for 10 years mm-hmm and last year we had a need for for some, for some teachers. So I went back into the classroom and I was speaking specifically when we went online. So from April, till the end of the year, I was teaching grade four classroom. So on top of it being the highlight of my day I got to connect with the students in, in in a different way that you don’t get to as an administrator, as an administrator, you’re sort of over, you know, you’re trying to oversee the whole school and making sure everyone’s safe and happy, but you don’t develop those personal relationships that you do if you’re the classroom teacher. So along the way we read, you know, I’ll share sort of a general thing, I think about the class, but then some feedback a student even gave to me that, that I think I didn’t even realize it had an impact.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (11:02):
Hmm. So in terms of the overall students, you know, I, I, I want my kids to be creative and, and explore, and we had read a story and they had to show the ups and downs of the main character in a way that, that worked for them. So one of them is into baking and he created, created a sheet of brownies and then showed the ups and downs to the icing that he did on, on the brownies that he took pictures and presented. It was amazing. Another one we, we, we played around with a program called Flipgrid. And so she made a video where she did like spoken monologue. I, I gave 10 minutes as the time limit for the video and that wasn’t enough time. So she had to do two videos where she went through the whole story just spoken model.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (11:45):
It was incredible. Other students, you know, created posters and, and other students like created these Lego cities to show what they did and they spent hours and hours on it. And so, you know, I hope that for all of my students, you know, I was able to help them find a love and education and, and finding their own voice in these projects and, and feeling that they put in their time and express themselves in the way that that that sort of meant to them. Now, I also had a policy where you, if students didn’t do great on the first try, I would give feedback and say, you know, here’s, here’s what I think you need to do to make it better. If you wanna do that, I’ll, I’ll take a look and give you a new grade. And I had one student who kept on doing that and she would say, you know, thanks.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (12:27):
I really appreciate that. And, and this and that, and, and she would always take the work and the feedback and then send it back to me. And at the end of the year, she wrote me a letter and just said, you know I really appreciated the fact that you gave me a chance to do stuff second time and, and make it better. Mm. I felt like I learned and grew. And and that made, I don’t know, it made school better for me. So it’s not like an amazing life changing story, Sam, but, you know, I think that little thing kind of made my day. I didn’t even realize that that had an impact on her. And here she’s telling me that that one little policy I had was, was a very impactful experience for at.


Sam Demma (13:02):
School, small, consistent actions make the biggest changes. Right.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (13:07):
Oh, I heard you say that. Absolutely.


Sam Demma (13:10):
That’s, that’s awesome. And when it comes to you know, bringing people in, you’ve been teaching now at the vice principal level for 11 years, how do you decide what specific types of messages to bring into your school, whether it’s in person or virtually you, you’re obviously very specific with the, the, the messages that you put in front of a young mind. So I’m curious to know there might be an educator listening who wants to understand that a little bit better, and maybe you have some insight to share?


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (13:39):
Well, in terms of messages that we bring. I guess, you know, we, it’s never something I decide on my own. We, we haven’t seen I would say one message that keeps coming back in terms of this current COVID time is we’ve been so overwhelmed by the resilience of the kids, the the commitment of the teachers and the appreciation of the parents. Mm. And so, you know, that that is a message that I want out there, you know, loud and, and clear like it, you know, there’s always, there’s always some issue here and there that we have to work through, but all in all, like the kids are just so happy to be back. They like every kid I’ve asked, do you like it better here with all the protocol for COVID or do you prefer to be at home, online learning every kid I speak to says that I’d rather be here wearing a mask so much better.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (14:27):
Teachers come to me every day and say, can I try this? Can I try that this didn’t work. So let you know, maybe this will be better. They want it to be a good experience for the kids. They really wanna do everything they can to help make the, the experience better for the kids and, and the parents. I get emails on a daily basis that, that say we are beyond impressed with how hard you guys are working to try and make this possible. And so, you know, the appreciation also goes a long way. They’re in a way they’re sort of our clients, right. We’re trying to make them happy and give ’em a program that I am at a private school. So we’re trying to make a program that they feel good about that they’re happy about. So I, I guess that’s the main COVID message, again, the resilience of the kids, the commitment of the teachers and the appreciation of the parents.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (15:14):
But then other messages, it has, it’s the same, whether it’s COVID or not, I mean, be a good person, be kind explore the world learn from differences. Have an open mind, have a growth mindset. Like the, these are all things that are common. Like we just want our kids in many, I, I, I say to teachers often, we’re trying to teach ourselves out of a job, right. We know we’ve done well. If we can set the stage where kids are, have the tools to learn on their own and that we’re on their side, maybe to guide them, but that really they’re driving the learning. And that takes a long to get there, but that that’s really our goal is to give kids the tools to, to learn.


Sam Demma (15:55):
Awesome. And if you could go back in time to your first year in education, but still know everything that you know now what pieces of advice would you share with yourself? There’s a bunch of educators listening who may just be getting into education, and this is their, or first year teaching. And they’re thinking to themselves, what the heck did I sign up for? what can you share with them through the years of, of, of accumulated wisdom through teaching?


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (16:24):
So if if you’re, if you see this as a job, you’re not in the right profession, mm-hmm, , it’s more than a job teaching the, the commitment you, you don’t go home, leave it behind you. And I’ve been reminded of that every day of my career. Mm-Hmm so that’s something that I, I would keep in mind and just, it would reinforce in me saying, well, you know, you’re doing the right thing, cuz you, you feel good about what you’re doing. Relationships, relationships, relationships, relationships, that is the most important thing in teaching have a in good curriculum is great. Having a cool technology that you use is great, but if you don’t have a relationship with the students, then it’s gonna be really hard to teach. And so that, that, that, that is sort of the, the main thing that, that drives everything else that I do.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (17:09):
So how do you do that? You gotta get to know the kids, you gotta ask and learn new things about them. And I keep asking them questions about it. So that is certainly something I would, I would remind myself as a, as a new year teacher who has the wisdom of someone who’s been teaching for a long time. And then, you know, the final thing is every day is different. Mm. Every day is different. And that sometimes the different is great and sometimes the different is, is brutal. But you know, if one day’s bad then, well, probably the next day is gonna be great. And so just a, a reminder that you never, if you feel stuck, you know, you’re not gonna be stuck forever.


Sam Demma (17:45):
Yeah. You went as an educator, you’re the main character in that story that you shared in grade four and you’re gonna have ups and downs. Right. And that’s a good thing to remind yourself of often, Seth, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat. If another educator is listening, wants to reach out to you, bounce some ideas around what is the best way for them to do so.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (18:08):
What I, what do I do? Do I give you my email? Do I tell you the school that I’m at? Whatever, whatever works. My email is sgoldsweig@leobaeck.ca I’d have be, you know, more than joy to bounce ideas. That’s that that’s education, right? We keep, we keep learning from one another. And so the more ideas we have, the, the more positive we can do. Awesome.


Sam Demma (18:39):
I look forward to hearing about the finished iron man suit and more birthday parties in your school. Keep up the great work and we’ll talk soon.


Dr.Seth Goldsweig (18:46):
Okay. Thanks, Sam, take care.


Sam Demma (18:48):
Awesome. 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.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Dr.Seth Goldsweig

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.

Chelle Travis – Executive Director of SkillsUSA

Chelle Travis - Executive Director at SkillsUSA
About Chelle Travis

Chelle Travis (@TheChelleTravis) is the executive director of SkillsUSA, a national organization of nearly 400,000 teachers and students within career and technical education. Travis was appointed in 2019 to lead a staff of 35 that manages a federation of 52 state and territorial associations. SkillsUSA’s mission is to empower members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible citizens. It improves the quality of our nation’s future skilled workforce.

With more than 17 years’ experience in career and technical education, Travis has served in a variety of academic settings, including secondary institutions, universities, and technical and community colleges. Most recently, she was the senior director of workforce and economic development at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), where she was charged with building partnerships with employers, workforce agencies and postsecondary institutions. She was the primary point of contact at THEC due to her knowledge of technical education, work-based learning experiences, alternative credentialing, competency-based education and experiential learning. She also managed all external workforce grants issued by THEC.

Formerly, Travis served as associate vice chancellor for students for the Tennessee Board of Regents College System of Tennessee, where she provided leadership in promoting student initiatives across 40 technical and community colleges.

Travis holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance, and a master’s degree in business administration, from Middle Tennessee State University. She is a doctoral student at Tennessee State University.

Connect with Chelle: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

SkillsUSA Organization

What is Career and Technical Education (CTE)?

SkillsUSA Membership Kits

SkillsUSA New Chapter Guide

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 on the podcast is Chelle Travis. She is the executive director of skills USA, a national organization of nearly 400,000 teachers and students within career and technical education. Travis was appointed in 2019 to lead a staff of 35 that manages a Federation of 52 state and tutorial associations skills. USA’s mission is to empower members to become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible citizens. She’s been in this work for more than 17 years, and it is my absolute pleasure to bring her on the show here today, to talk about her journey into leadership and all the challenges that they are overcoming at skills USA during this tough time. I hope you enjoy the interview. I’ll see you on the other side, Chelle Travis, thank you so much for coming on the high-performing educator podcast. It’s a pleasure to have you start off by sharing with the audience who you are and why you got into the work you do with young people today.


Chelle Travis (01:07):
So I’m Chelle Travis. I’m the executive director of skills USA, and I’m very excited to be here with you today. Thank you for having me, Sam. I actually got into education and specifically career technical student organizations because of an advisor I had in high school. So like many of our students across the nation, there is that one person, their advisor that makes an impact on their life. And Ms. Webb was that for me that she taught me leadership skills. I was very shy. Didn’t necessarily like to speak in front of people. And she opened me up to a world that I did not know that would exist for me. She took me on my first my first trip in, in a plane to a student conference, a leadership conference and, and actually started my journey there, so wanted to reinvest in and pay it forward for what someone had done in my life. So I would a lot to her.


Sam Demma (02:21):
That’s awesome. Shout out, Mrs. Webb, what point in your journey did you know I’m going to be a worker in education? Was there like, was there a certain moment you made the decision that you can remember or was it just a lifelong decision?


Chelle Travis (02:37):
So my mother was as Siki educator and I said, I would say there were two very strong women in my life. I’ve Ms. Webb. And then my mother my mother was CP educator for 40 years and a CTSO advisor. I watched her advocate for CTE my entire life. And so I always was very impressed by her passion and her dedication to her students. However like many young adults, you don’t necessarily want to do what your parents did. Right. So thought it gets that thought it gets that for, for a while. And then I met my next mentor Dr. Williams when, my first about first day actually on my college campus, I became his student worker. And he was in the office of student services again, working with students organizations. And then at that time I realized that you know, this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I started I stopped fighting it and started running towards it. And and really embracing that at that point.


Sam Demma (03:48):
And I know you’ve been doing this for years now. The challenges this year are unique to all the challenges you might’ve faced in the past. And I’m sure there’s things that have been very successful and things you have also learned from one of those huge successes, which we briefly talked about before this recording was the fact that you raised your organization and your partner, a partner raise over $300,000. Can you shed some light on that success during COVID and as well as some learnings, if you have any?


Chelle Travis (04:14):
Absolutely. So I would say that in this moment in time right now we can make a significant difference in elevating our public perception of the value of career and technical education. Now is really our time and our student skills have always been essential. But I think the pandemic has really put a light, a spotlight on the need for CTE in America and right now. And so our our partners very, very excited about the commitment of our partners. They really stepped up and, and saw this need and really wanted to help us elevate career and technical education and wanted to make sure that skills USA had the resources that it needed to actually be able to provide services for our students across the nation. We serve students across all 50 states two territories and the district of Columbia approximately 400,000 members, students and instructors every year and over 20 and about 20,000 classrooms in the United States.


Chelle Travis (05:27):
So so a very large large range and an opportunity to reach even more students every year as a, as we elevate CTE and they see the importance and we’re able to tell our story and they are, and Carhartt who is a great partner, longstanding partner of skills USA. So our labor day as an opportunity to really recognize the value of skilled trades to elevate CTE and to support skills and the mission of our organization. So I’m very excited to have such a great partner. They aren’t our only partners. We’ve had other partners that have set up during this time to really help our students and our instructors during very challenging times.


Sam Demma (06:15):
That’s awesome. And out of the smorgasborg of challenges we’re faced with right now, what are some of the ones that you’re currently facing as an organization? Maybe some of what you’ve already overcome, but some you’re still dealing with today.


Chelle Travis (06:29):
So a large challenge, as you say, across America, as we’re going into the fall and into a new school year is normally a time for if you’re an instructor, if you’re in education. And also if you’re a student, I have a, a second grader and, and, you know, you love getting that new if you have a elementary school student. And I think I even did in high school enjoy, you know, getting those new school supplies, getting that new backpack. And there was always this anticipation of the new year to come and, and for an instructor and advisor, that new group of students that you’re going to be able to impact their lives and, and really grow with them throughout the year. And it’s always very exciting and this year was a little different and then than normal it not knowing the, the difference from state to state and even within each district from district to district about what the move forward plans would be, whether classrooms would be all grounds virtual or a combination of the two in a hybrid classroom.


Chelle Travis (07:36):
And as we’ve seen that in, you know, our instructors concerned about their safety and their students and how they would put precautions in place if they were going on grounds to make sure that, you know, their students and the protection of their students and themselves their safety was first. And so those challenges and as students, you know, we’ve seen across our membership where students have gone on Graham one week and then instructors in their online the next weekend. And really, so the many challenges that our students and instructors space, we face as an organization and trying to make sure that we’re, we’re meeting them where they are. So we really did see in the summer making sure that we could pivot all of our resources to make sure that they were on all available to our instructors and to our students, no matter what that learning environment not be.


Chelle Travis (08:39):
And because we know even with all the challenges and, and our instructors and our students are so resilient and have been so adaptable during this time and very strong, I really do applaud everything that they are doing and make sure that they’re still able to meet their students’ needs in the classroom. But we, we spent a lot of hours and still are pivoting everything that we do from what they would normally receive possibly in person to making sure that all of that was available to our students and instructors in a virtual format and even more because not knowing if you’re going to have a chapter online or whether it’s online or whether it’s going to be virtual, or how do I meet with my students for my chapter, if they’re not going to get together, or if half of them are online and half of them on our ground.


Chelle Travis (09:36):
And so it’s such a challenging time, but we’ve tried to encourage our instructors about providing them resources for their classroom that it’s not time to pause. Our students really do need skills USA right now more than, than ever in skills USA. Not only do we, do we provide students with those personal skills workplace skills and their technical skills grounded on academics to really make sure that they’re ready to enter the workplace, but we give them a sense of belonging and a place you know, that, that they can be with their their fellow students. And at a time when so many things have been canceled and their, their life, we can, can be a positive a positive place for them to to belong in and also to make a difference in their lives, still in a virtual world. So we’ve really tried to provide those resources and continue to provide those to our instructors. And I think the challenging thing that we all face is just really continuing to adjust to what is our for now our new normal.


Sam Demma (10:57):
Yeah, I totally agree that this type of work, this selfless work is needed now more than ever when students are down, I think that’s when they need the most help. And with all the challenges that we’re facing, those three pillars of technical skills, personal skills and career skills are so important. And I would assume that a lot of the personal skills that are taught at skills USA are through live events, like case competitions and conferences and national conferences. How are you adjusting those? Are they being put online? Are they being put on hold this year? What’s the direction that your company has taken organization has taken to address that


Chelle Travis (11:34):
Again? We, we do feel that it is no time to pause for our students. So I’m very proud of the work of our state and of our staff at the national office to make sure that that can happen. So right now we, throughout the summer we trained our state officers virtually for our state. Now we are leading into season four. If states needed assistance, they would normally have all leadership conferences. We have assisted our states in making sure that they can have those virtual experiences for students for their leadership conferences and also with online as state officers and chapter officer experiences and making sure that they’re, they are able to, to have those leadership experiences as well. We have a, we have an empowering experiences team and that empowering experiences team have really, they’ve done a great job in making sure that that there are experiences all year long for our chapters.


Chelle Travis (12:46):
So while we know our our state and our capture advisors have a heavy list this year in trying to provide additional resources and additional activities that they can take in and put into their classroom. And why virtual events for their students to be connected through a series of task force and in, in looking at what our students would be interested in and would be engaged in and making sure that we can meet their needs. We also, for our instructors this year we elevated the number of professional membership resources that they have so toolkit that they can take videos that they can use lesson plans that they can use in their classroom to make sure that they’re still integrating that skills USA experience and that we are integrating all of those framework skills into the classroom and providing those resources for our for our advisors and also our our experiences also for our chapters, our program of work tool kit.


Chelle Travis (13:58):
So they are chapter activities can still take place. We have developed those chapter it tool kit, and then also in looking at their championships, cause you talked about those and local championship guides that can assist them in their classroom. During this time in technical in technical opportunities as well. So you, you asked about conferences, so we have those happening this fall. One commitment that we have made and that we’ve made to our membership is that we will have a national conference this year. So look for more information on that. And November 16th is, is the date that we shared with our membership at the beginning of this fall that we would share the decision of the delivery of our national conference. And so, so then our championship team and our education team, as well as our health staff has been working on what that national conference may look like championships is, is also looking at how we can deliver how we can help states deliver virtual conferences, if that is, is what their state is going to need or hybrid conferences and in assisting in providing resources and platform opportunities for that delivery.


Chelle Travis (15:21):
But we will be offering our national conference with, with sessions and and actually opportunities to connect with employers our textbooks, whether that’s on ground or online and, and also we will be offering competition opportunities and all of our trade areas. So we’ve really been working hard this year, not only to learn from those experiences across the nation and in what we can do for our students. But also we belong to a community of world skills and we’ve been learning from our, their nations and in what they’re going through as well. We’re not alone in this pandemic and skilled trades are needed not just in our country, but around the world. And and so learning from those nations and how they’re meeting the needs of their students as well have informed our decisions.


Sam Demma (16:22):
That’s amazing. I want to take you back for one second to Mrs. Webb and explore what she did for you. And you were a student that really lit a fire within your heart to, to, to chase this stuff. Where’s she, like, if you can pinpoint some of her character traits that really stood out to you, so other educators listening might be able to do the same thing for their students, that’d be really helpful.


Chelle Travis (16:46):
So I said that I was shy. So if somebody saw that and then you made it in high school, they would probably say that’s not true. Most people would have thought that I was, I was an extrovert. I love surrounding myself with people like making a difference in other students’ lives. However, I was say Saferight was as something that I had, and he might not have thought that either, but so Ms. Webb of one of the things is that she saw something in me and, and believed in me and actually instilled the confidence in myself that that I could become both a leader on our campus, but later a student later in our state and in our region and and, and believes in me and that was the first thing is that she gave me an opportunity.


Chelle Travis (17:44):
That is something that I share with, when I was in Tennessee and worked at the state director is skills USA. I’ll always said, it’s our it’s our responsibility. It was my responsibility as an instructor. It was our responsibility as as a state association to give students opportunity and it’s up to them what they do with those and a lot of times, but to come alongside them and to support them and help them. But sometimes that’s all it takes is to, to believe in your students, to give them the opportunity and to instill in them the confidence that they can do, that she showed me and helped me overcome my fears and, and helps me work through those. And, and that opportunity was mine if I was if I wanted to and would they committed. And so I will never forget that Phantom of the opera I’ll just share with you that was, she played that. So before any we would be in her car growing, going across the state, I would be getting ready to speak. And I came from a very small high school. So I was my high school, I graduated with 68 people. I was preparing to speak to 5,000.


Chelle Travis (19:03):
And so and so we played Phantom of the opera all the way across the state until we got until we got there to that conference. And then, you know, and then the next thing was to prepare me and one of my classmates to, to present to a to a national conference as, as well. So she took me on step to mentor Ernie and, and really made sure that that whatever it was that I needed to, to come on earth to get over that hurdle, she was going to help me find that and then and practice and, and make sure that I was ready for that opportunity. So


Sam Demma (19:46):
That’s amazing. I resonate with their story so much because I’ll throw a high school. I want it to be a pro soccer player. I ended up having some major knee injuries lost a scholarship to the U S and I had a teacher. I was supposed to go to Memphis and Tennessee, and my teacher’s name was Michael loud foot. And he believed in me when I was down. Like, I didn’t believe in myself. And he taught me this lesson that a small, consistent action can make a massive change and then challenged me to go out in the community and do something. And that led to a bunch of social enterprise work here in Ontario with picking up garbage. It’s a funny story. I’ll get into it a different time, but I so deeply resonate with you. And I’m curious to know if in your reverse role as a mentor for thousands of students. Now, if you have any stories of students that were just like you, who who’s who’s, who was impacted by the work you do with skills USA that you’d like to share. And it could be a very personal story of a student who has been profoundly impacted, but you can change their name for privacy reasons. The reason I is because an educator might be listening, who is a little burnt out, and I want to remind them why this work is so important, because I think it has the power to transform lives.


Chelle Travis (20:54):
It does. And so I often say in technical education, and especially when it’s coupled with skills USA is integrated into that opportunity that the work that we do is life changing. And so I can tell you that there’s not just one story. I there are many stories of not just changing that life of that individual student, but you can literally change the trajectory of not just that lie, but that student’s family and the community and the nation, because that confidence that you instill in them and the opportunities that you give in them, it doesn’t just impact that individual. It impacts an entire family and in the role that I have here and the way I, I see it, it can impact a generation of students across our nation, the work that we do from I love student stories.


Chelle Travis (21:53):
I would love as an instructor. Probably one of the the, the greatest gifts that you get is when a student returns and comes back to you. And with that first paycheck whether it’s that that a new car or a story about the house that they were able to buy, or they bring in their family for the, for the first time and you eat and you get to see that, that your work had somehow just a small, a small part and, and making that person, and that individual become who they are today. I’ve seen the changes in the lives, not just of our secondary students, but also in our post-secondary students that come back to us possibly after having first careers. And, and now they see, they may not have seen technical education as an option for them at the time.


Chelle Travis (22:47):
And then along the way they they come back to us, they see technical education as an opportunity for them, and you get them to to you get, to see them achieve what has been their lifelong dream. And, and just the change in them. And, you know, in going through this program and the leadership skills that they say I have several of those friends are, or former students are now you know, I get to watch their journey on on Facebook or something like that. And I get to see the difference and then get to see them achieve their dreams. And I think that’s so, so important. And, and I think if as an instructor, I know that it is a challenging as a former instructor myself, I cannot imagine what the classroom and the challenges are like, we do work alongside our instructors, but every day I know that it is, it is a challenge for them and I’m, so I’m encouraged by seeing what they are how they are trying to meet their students’ needs.


Chelle Travis (23:57):
I do know that you know, when I would say my instructors go from go from being classroom instructors to integrating skills, you’re saying to their classroom, and now becoming instructors that are skilled, she would say advisors as well. I could see a different, so it can take a a, an instructor that was a good instructor to an instructor. That’s a great instructor with a new renewed passion for for career and technical education and for the work that they do. I don’t, you know, in working with our students for a number of years, I don’t see how you can be in technical education and not just and not just be excited about the work that you do and the difference that you make in your students’ lives. If you just take a step back and, and look at the number of lives you’ve impacted and changed for the better every year.


Sam Demma (24:48):
And I think you mentioned it, you know, you hit it on the nail, impacting that one student life that could put them on a trajectory to impact another thousand. And if every student did something that impacted the lives of others, it’s this huge ripple effect that just goes on forever and ever which is so awesome. I think what you all stand for is amazing. If anyone’s listening right now and wants to bounce some ideas around maybe another national director from another student organization and wants to have a conversation, what would be the best way for them to reach out with you if you’re open to it?


Chelle Travis (25:18):
Oh, absolutely. Well, if you are interested in contacting me if you’ll just go to skillsusa.org you’ll be able to find my contact information. That’s cell phones. They’re also my my, my email. But it just, if, if you want to reach out and learn more if you want to know more about the stories of our champions, if you go to champions.skillsUSA.award there, you can very, you can see success stories of our students and the impact that our work has on students’ lives across the nation. And I think that is what is so exciting is, is just the it, seeing the work that you do have an impact on students’ lives and in our future generation or future workforce.


Sam Demma (26:08):
Nice. Awesome. Shelly, thank you so much for taking some time to do this has been an absolute pleasure chatting with you,


Chelle Travis (26:13):
Sam, thank you for the work that you’re doing. I think it’s a, it’s the right work in, I’m very excited to see where these podcasts late,


Sam Demma (26:21):
Amazing information insights and ideas for this current challenging time. And I hope her story into leadership really inspired you to reflect on, the personal impact you have on the young people in your life. We always have the opportunity to make a huge impact on the lives of everyone around us. And with that being said, if you enjoyed this interview and you enjoy this, please consider leaving a rating and review. It’ll help more educators just like yourself, find these episodes and learn from them. And if you are listening, thinking that you would love to share something on the show as well. Please send us an email at info@samdemma.com so we can get your insights and your ideas on the show as well. Anyways, I will see you on the next episode talk soon.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Chelle Travis

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.