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Mental Health

Jason Eduful – Teacher, Basketball Coach, Youth Minister and Mental Health Advocate

Jason Eduful - Teacher, Basketball Coach, Youth Minister and Mental Health Advocate
About Jason Eduful

Jason (@__MrE) is an educator, basketball coach, youth minister and advocate for mental health.  His goal is to bridge the gap between marginalized youth and extraordinary education. 

He is also the youngest guest that we’ve had on this podcast! 

Connect with Jason: Email | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School Website

Equity Studies at York University

Coach Carter Movie

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, his name is Jason Eduful. He goes by Mr. Eduful for his students. He is an educator, a basketball coach, a minister, and an advocate for mental health and his goal is to bridge the gap between marginalized youth and extraordinary education. Jason is one of the youngest educators.


Sam Demma (01:06):
I’ve had the chance to bring on the show and you can tell by our very energetic conversation. He’s super excited about the work that he’s doing. Although there are challenges, he’s seeing them as opportunities because he knows like Malcolm X said without education, you’re not going anywhere in this world. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed it. See you on the other side. Jason, thank you so much for coming onto the High Performing Educators podcast. You play the perfect role visually. I know no one can really see you right now, but you got those beautiful glasses on and can you please tell the audience who you are, why you got into teaching and the work that you do with young people today?


Jason Eduful (01:46):
Yeah, no problem. First of all, thank you so much for having me, Sam. I’ve heard so many great things about you, had an opportunity to listen to some of your work and it truly is inspiring. So keep doing what you’re doing. My name is Jason Eduful. I’ve been teaching for about, this will be year number eight. I currently teach at Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School in the Peel region. You know, I really started with studying equity and racial studies at York University. That was like my passion and then I took that and kind of switched gears a little bit and started studying philosophy and theology. And so that’s really what I’m teaching now. I’m teaching theology at the grade 12 level, for the most part, they kind of throw me everywhere other than math and science, ’cause we don’t get along, but usually anywhere else , I’m usually free to go. Married for a year and a half now a year and a bit.


Jason Eduful (02:43):
So yeah. She’s also a teacher normally grade five, but due to the whole pandemic situation, she’s online kind of teaching kindergarten. Nice. but yeah, I’m usually I’m a coach, I’m a mentor. I guess I’m a best friend at some point but , but normally that’s what I do. I usually love working with kids just mainly because you know, I, I just remember being a high school student. And I remember really that lead up into high school. I hated school so much. And I hated it mainly because I felt like nobody number one could relate to me. I grew up kind of Weston and Lawrence ish back in the day. It wasn’t the nicest neighborhood I’ll leave it at that. But we had a lot of outreach in the community specifically Weston park, Baptist church and front lines with a special woman, who’s kind of like my mentor still Bonnie Parsons.


Jason Eduful (03:41):
Mm. She kind of took us under her wing and made sure that we were, you know, not only getting that educational side of things, learning how to become men in a really rough neighborhood, but also kind of connecting that spirituality to it. Hmm. And so I still partner with front lines when I can, but for the most part you, yeah, that’s really where I started things. And then grade 10, I believe, I wanna say I started or something piqued my interest in school, you know? My grade 10 teacher, Diana Espanza, who also is ironically my vice principal right now. , she I don’t remember what the assignment was. I’m not gonna lie to you sound, but I remember the response, like the response was huge. I, I handed in an assignment and she tore it apart.


Jason Eduful (04:31):
Like just, if I could say like red ink on a paper, there was no white spots. Like just ripped it up and gave it back to me and said, this is not acceptable. Like, this is not who you are. It’s not a reflection of what you’re capable of. And it was the first time that somebody ever really said that to me. So in my mind, you know, you’re in grade tenure. You’re like, okay, lady, whatever. Like , I’m with the next, let’s gone with this. But she, she just kept pushing me. She kept pushing me. She kept pushing me. She kept pushing me. I, I, and it was the first time I resubmitted an assignment. Like I wasn’t like an, a put less student, but I was a pretty solid kid. Like you don’t talk to me, I’ll do the work. We’re good. And so when she ripped that apart and she gave me the opportunity to redo it, and then we connected again.


Jason Eduful (05:11):
And from that time I remember ironically, I had her every other year till I graduated. And so I was kind of stuck with it. There was no getting around it, but she really, she really inspired people and challenged them to really think about, not only like you could have your own opinion, but she was gonna challenge that opinion. And you had to make sure that you were able to back it up, you know? It’s funny, cuz my cousin Reggie sent me a video yesterday two days ago and it was about either, it was a youth you video just about something saying who’s your worst or your best teacher. And it was, it was hilarious because most of it was all like negative things, but like the passion that these people had for the teachers that they hated like full names, like Jason Eduful, grade six.


Jason Eduful (06:00):
And I’m thinking, I think that we forget as teachers, how powerful of an impact that we can have on kids either positively or negatively. Mm you know what I mean? So that’s kinda a little bit above my background where I jumped into it. And then from there obviously she inspired me to really become a leader in the community because it was more like one learning can be fun. Mm. Right. and number two, if you really put enough time into any student and in all like now times like people are like, well, how much time can we really put in versus press for time? But if you just take that time to build those connections, you can literally inspire anybody. And so that’s what really got me jumping into why I wanted to become a teacher and why I’m still doing it now.


Sam Demma (06:47):
So you’re telling me, your teacher gave you nightmares about red pens. So you touched, you touched on something really cool. You mentioned the fact that she gave you a second chance to resubmit the assignment. How do we give students that feeling? Like, what did you feel like when she gave you a second chance? If you could go back to grade 10, Jason or grade six, Jason, I can’t remember which one it was. What was going through your, on your mind when she gave you that second chance and how can we give kids today that similar, similar feeling?


Jason Eduful (07:25):
Grade 10, Jason would probably immediately be like, what is wrong with this woman? Like, you’re not my mom, like, get outta here. We don’t need any, this, I was very confrontational. And now in the, that I’m in now after obviously years of mentoring people and doing things like that and coaching, you can tell when somebody standoffish, there’s a reason, you know? And so I think from the teacher perspective, giving kids an opportunity to resubmit, isn’t gonna kill you. You know what I mean? I know we’re crunched for time, but if our goal is to make these students and these pupils into better human beings, right. Especially I’m in a Catholic school. So we kind of have our own little virtues that we’re kind of going off of. So we want them to be it’s called Catholic graduate expectations. So what do we want them to look like when they graduate?


Jason Eduful (08:14):
If we can focus on those and just put the curriculum to the side for a second, if we can focus on the making kids better people, we’re doing way better of a job than just, Hey, you deserve a 90 on this paper. Hey, you deserve a 50 on this paper. But from the student perspective, I remember thinking, number one, why won’t you leave me alone? Like I don’t get a number two. Wow. Like once, once it kicked in and it didn’t kick until grade 11, I won’t even lie to you. Mm. But grade 11, when I had her again, I was like, oh my God, here we go again. This lady is gonna rip everything up. And then just gimme a, like, she would write paragraphs of like, you should improve in this. Why don’t you think about this? Why don’t you? And I’m like that now, unfortunately, but for my students that have me my bad, you know, where it comes from now.


Jason Eduful (08:59):
But as the student, I think it wasn’t until grade 11, like I said, but in grade 11, I really thought, man, she actually wants us to succeed. Like, it’s not about like, here’s the mark that you got. Thanks for doing the assignment. It was really, yeah. You did this assignment, but dig deeper. Like why, why did you, why do you think I made you do this? You know what I mean? Why do you think I made you redo this so many times because you’re just hitting the crust, like jump in there. And so yeah, like I think we should all give second chance again. Second chances. Isn’t gonna kill anybody, man. I know we make it a big thing, but it’s we can do it every day.


Sam Demma (09:37):
Yeah. It’s so true. I’m curious to know, you mentioned that now that’s your teaching style which is, which is awesome. Is there, is there a story that comes to mind and you can change the student’s name for the sake of privacy, but I want a story where you believed in a kid where they didn’t believe even themselves and you know, you push them past the threshold and maybe they even broke down and told you how big of an impact it had on them. I feel like a story like that told right now from a place of vulnerability, but also to remind another educator that the work we do is so important, cuz it can transform a student’s life and their whole future can really re spark and reignite a passion in another educator. Do you have any of those stories that come to mind when I ask you that question?


Jason Eduful (10:22):
Yeah, I got a couple I’ll just use my cousin’s name that way. It’s not keep privacy there. So Reggie graduated. Oh man. How many years ago now? Maybe three and a half. Three and a bit years ago. Mm. And at that time I was teaching at a different school in Brampton. Reggie was how would I describe Reggie? Reggie was a ball of energy that couldn’t sit still only cared about girls. Like that was, that was Reggie’s by like the only thing that mattered to him was girls. Didn’t really care about school was on the basketball team, not the best point guard out there but you know, you tried, you tried. And so I, I started this kind of mentor, mentor mentor relationship with the student. And Reggie really started to open up and really talk about, you know, his upbringing, his life.


Jason Eduful (11:25):
And I remember one of the assignments that I got Reggie to do at the time. I don’t know if you’re a DC Marvel kind of guy, but at the time arrow was like number one on every list. And so he had to do a CPT and I, I, I, he handed it his CPT and it was, it was, it was done. do that. It was done but just didn’t meet any of the expectations, you know? And so as opposed to me just ripping it apart I, I said to him, I’m like, listen, and, and again, we talk about like building those relationships with students, getting to know the learner. Right. All that’s very important because every day he would come in, we’d have a conversation, honestly, about the episode of the, like that week, that Wednesday we would talk about it.


Jason Eduful (12:15):
And I had said to him, why don’t you just rewrite the ending? He said, he didn’t like this season finale rewrite the ending. The curriculum is so huge, right? When we’re thinking about curriculum documents and what we have to accomplish in the semester and blah, blah, blah, you can tweak it to be whatever you want it to be. Essentially, as a teacher, a teacher knows that. So why not get him to do something that he’s interested in? Right. get him to reevaluate what he’s doing, still hit the major learning goals, overall specific, whatever. And then go from there. And so I got him to do it. He killed that script. It was amazing. And then the second half of that was with all the personal, what that was going on, he needed like a big brother. And I didn’t realize that I was doing that for him at the time.


Jason Eduful (13:00):
Cuz you know, guys, guys come in, you talk whatever. When, when you know, everybody’s out of the doors is a different type of conversation. Right. And so coaching him, teaching him really got us, I guess, a lot closer than I even thought. And so he was sharing things with me and we were building and we were teaching like, what is the correct as a man? You know what I mean? What’s the proper response that you should be having in certain situations. And so I told you that he was a a point guard. I didn’t tell you he was good, but he was a point guard and I remember we were up in a very important semifinal gay and I called him and I was like, yo, Reggie, you’re going in? And he’s like, what? like, the game is close.


Jason Eduful (13:44):
What do you mean? And so, you know, he did shoot like, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t, there wasn’t that much faith, but I was like drop on the blade, kick it to the corner, our shooters shoot, you know? And I remember him doing exactly what I said, do it to the corner, hit a shot rimed in and out. And then he got the rebound and I was not expecting that at all. Hit the got the basket, got an N one missed the free throw. So we lost, but he came me at this a coach, you have no idea how much that meant to me, blah, blah, blah. And I was just like, we lost is the only thing that through mind, I like, yeah, we lost, what are you talking about? But anyways, fast forward, three years later he came to visit me at the school that I’m at now.


Jason Eduful (14:34):
And we just had great conversation about life, man. And I didn’t realize in the moment I was just being me, you know? And I didn’t realize how much I impacted him. So now he’s in university, he’s studying to become a teacher. I don’t think he’s gonna be as a crazy mark as I am, but he is definitely loving his experience and he credits me for most of it. And I just say like, honestly, all the glory to God, cause like I didn’t even in that moment, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just being me. You know what I mean? So that’s one story. I’ve had tons, but I won’t kill you with them. But that was one, one story of Reggie,


Sam Demma (15:11):
Reggie, the point card, Reggie,


Jason Eduful (15:14):
The point card that cost to speak.


Sam Demma (15:17):
That’s amazing. You mentioned, you know, you transitioned from teaching to mentoring, you know, you have a different conversation when it’s one student in the classroom, teachers that are listening, educators that are listening. Could you give them any advice on what the difference is? Like if you had to explain what the difference is between teaching and mentoring, a young person, you do a lot of, you know, sports, coaching, mentoring, young people and teaching, mentoring and teaching are a little different. What’s the difference? And how can a teacher also be a mentor to some of their students who need it most?


Jason Eduful (15:48):
Yeah. I think the biggest one is, is confidential and, and privacy. I think that’s one of the biggest ones. Obviously as a teacher, you have certain obligations that you have to fulfill, right? So if you hear something or you’re alerted to something, then you have out that obligation to report if you’re mentoring somebody, you still have that same obligation, but your scope needs to be widen a little bit. Right. And so when you’re thinking about, because mentoring can vary, right. It doesn’t have to always be something negative. Right. and so when we’re thinking about mentoring, especially mentorship, every coach, if you’re coaching properly, you’re a mentor mm-hmm right. And I think people forget that. So like I, even on the basic level, like I mentor, I, I always call them my sons. Like I have 15 sons a year, not this year, cuz we don’t have any season, but I have literally 15 sons every year.


Jason Eduful (16:38):
And what mentoring looks like to me and how I do it is 6:00 AM. We’re in the gym, right. We’re teaching them not only time management, but how to be productive. Right. We’re teach them how to do everything else. Are you in uniform? We go to a I’m at a uniform school. So like upholding yourself etiquette. Right? Respect. You can’t respect yourself. If you’re not dressing properly, you can’t respect administration if you’re not following rules. Right. So again, making sure that each of them are in uniform moving on to like they’re not allowed to cuz they know all it’s not gonna fly, but you’re not allowed to skip class. Mm-Hmm you’re not allowed to get caught cheating on a test. Not that anybody cheats on tests or anything like that. and again, then we have study hall like before we actually have practice, we have a study hall and that’s usually because the gyms used and we’re waiting, but still we have a study hall and myself being an educator, I should be able to, I’m not saying if you’re an educator, you should know every single subject for the most part.


Jason Eduful (17:39):
I know most of them, so there should be no kid. And if I don’t know anything, I know colleagues that do you know? And that’s when you start calling in favors, mm-hmm, my mentorship. Doesn’t just stop at, you know, the 30 people, unfortunately that are in my class. You know what I mean? That goes beyond that. So anytime there’s a situation, whether they’re in trouble with administration, whether they’re in trouble with their teacher, I try to make it a point that their teacher should contact me. Right. Mm-hmm I wanna know what’s going on with my boys. And I want make sure that they’re in the best position to not get I at of whatever situation, but the best outcome could that could possibly be obviously displayed is the one that we’re gonna choose. So yeah, there is a difference between teaching and mentoring, but I feel like every coach and every teacher should know that at very most they’re a role model. And if you’re a role model, whether you like it or not, unfortunately we sign up for this gig and that’s what it is. You are quote unquote, a mentor, right? In any way, shape or form. So, but again, coaching any, any coach out there will tell you the same thing. Like you, you can’t coach and not be a mentor like it doesn’t that’s just


Sam Demma (18:42):
Go and just go watch coach Carter and you get it. Exactly.


Sam Demma (18:50):
Coach Eduful I love it. That’s awesome. And you know, right now is a time that’s very difficult, very different. If you signed up for teaching and this was your first year, you would be thinking, wow, what is going on? This is so different. While some educators that are listening are in that boat. And so you being someone who’s been in the assistant teaching for, you know, over seven years, eight years now, you said, what advice could you give that person who’s just starting and maybe has a weird perspective on what this job looks like?


Jason Eduful (19:22):
The first thing I would say is it, it, it gets better. this is not the norm. This is not the norm. I know everybody’s calling this the new norm, but this is about the norm. It’s really hard for me right now, just because of my personality and the way that I teach. Right. So when I really started teaching my philosophy, everybody has to make like a philosophy of as a philosophy of education. And that philosophy as of education, for me, was bridging at between marginalized youth and extraordinary education. And so for how I did that was being a relational based teacher. Right. And so what that looks like on paper is, you know, starting to getting to know your kids, right? Whether it is their needs specific, right. And every kid has needs, man, whether it’s an IEP, whatever, like everybody has, you needs what are their skills?


Jason Eduful (20:13):
What are their interests? What are their likes? What are their dislikes? And then I would say once you have that, understand that, man, I know we preach this all the time of this thing called like backwards design, right? Where it’s like find what’s the most important or start from your end goal and work backwards. We really need to jump back to that. But in that we really need to talk about rationale. And I think that for me is the most important, especially if you’re a new teacher coming in, or even if you’re a teacher that’s been in here, why do they need to know this? I’m so sick of kids graduating and be like, sir, I learned nothing. Like I went to university and like, this was like, why am I starting from scratch? You know what I mean? And I get that, that’s true, but we should be teaching.


Jason Eduful (20:55):
‘Em Critical thinking. We should be teaching them things that they can use in the future. You know, like kids shouldn’t be coming back now they’re buying ready to buy a home and they have no idea what a mortgage is. Hmm. You know what I mean? And so certain and things like that in terms of life skills, life lessons, we should be teaching them straight from the jump. You know? Another thing that I really, really love doing and anybody that knows me will tell you, this is I’m, I’m an advocate for experiential learning. Mm. And so that’s literally just like a, a process of learning that really involves you kind of getting in like getting in their, your hands on. And it always has to come with a rationale. And so again, why are we learning this? So in, in ethics or philosophy or great 12 religion, we learn about ethics and morality.


Jason Eduful (21:39):
Okay. Why do I need to know about ethics and morality? Because we live in a society, right? Yeah. You might have your own principles, your own moral compass, but what does society deem to correct. Based on the job that you’re in. Right. And we have those type of conversations. It’s difficult, especially in COVID obviously, cause I’m the type of teacher. I don’t know. Maybe you have a teacher like this, that would you remember? I would just, I usually sit at my desk, like on my desk. I have like the concepts on the board. And then we have conversations. We have just have a, like a big discussion. Yeah. And as kids are talking and as I’m facilitating that dis discussion, I might bring up, okay, well, that’s a key word that we need to learn and that’s on the board, let’s copy this down.


Jason Eduful (22:16):
And then we fill and we learn like that. And so obviously on a computer I might be a little bit difficult. Right. I I’m just thinking of like Dr. Christopher Edmond, who I, who I’m a big fan of. And he talks about, he’s really like a stem advocate who speaks on issues of race and culture, but mainly known, he’s known for his like hiphop education where he takes hiphop and rap and he makes it, and he interviews it with, you know, science, technology, engineering, and math. I really love the backbone of that. Like get back to the roots of things that kids wanted to you, if you know what your kid wants to do and you know how your kid can thrive, you can have four or five different assignments in your classroom. Yeah. We’re so stuck and rigid on this. Well, this is my rubric, so how am I supposed to, well, yeah, your rubric is made to be changed.


Jason Eduful (23:02):
You typed it at one point. So we type it , you know what I mean? But yeah, like I, I would honestly tell that first year, if it, if it is a first year teacher, I’d be like, man, it, it gets better. It definitely gets better. This is different. It is challenging. But again, we just have to find ways to get around these barriers. And we’re like, we, every teacher’s had that day where they’ve gone up to the front of the class, had no lesson plan and just swing it. Like you guys, you know, we, we know how to do this. So it’s just about adapting, you know? Yeah.


Sam Demma (23:31):
Jason, you’ve had a smile on your face, this whole interview. and I wanna know what gives you hope personally and what motivates you personally to show up to work despite the challenges optimistic, enthusiastic, and ready to serve.


Jason Eduful (23:44):
Right. I gotta say faith. Faith is number one. My faith keeps me grounded. My faith keeps me going. I know that I’m doing some sort of vocation, at least I believe so. And, and I’m hoping that that transfers are manifests to the kids and they know that I’m not here just to get a paycheck, but I I’m here to see each and every one of them succeed. I think that’s number one, student success is a huge motivator. Hopefully one day a championship for a school would be a great motivator, but yeah, no, just seeing the kids just be themselves and grow. And, you know, I’ve had kids from grade nine and I’ve had the pleasure of being at this school long enough to be, and see them in grade 12. And it’s like, when they see me, like we, they still remember the handshake that we had in grade nine. You know what I mean? They still remember the nickname that I gave them. You know, I like, I don’t even remember these things and just to keep them grow and just become men and women and mature. That’s one thing that gives me hope because I know that something’s working so things changing, you know what I mean? But again, that all jumps back to faith. The thing that keeps me grounded and motivated. So I think that’s one of the biggest factors that gives me hope.


Sam Demma (24:20):
That’s awesome. I love that so much. And, you know, especially during a time, like COVID when we have so many challenges, faith is a huge thing that keeps you grounded. I, some, some of the challenges you already mentioned with COVID were teaching online. Were there any other challenges you’ve currently been faced with and have you had any unique ideas to overcome any of them that you think might be helpful to other educators?


Jason Eduful (25:20):
I think again, the biggest one for me, challenges would like not being able to just interact with the kids on a, on a more personal level. Yeah. Like some kids don’t want it to run the cameras and that’s totally cool. And I don’t push anybody to do anything like that, but just in general, like that face to face interaction, like we crave that we miss that for a lot of people that what builds them up. That’s what keeps them going. Some of the things that I’ve tried to do, especially since we shut down in March and then kind of reopened now I’ve really tried to start doing assignments and tasks that have everything to do with allowing students to really dig deep and critically think in terms of how to overcome whatever it is. Right. So I’ve literally, I’m done with tests for now.


Jason Eduful (26:08):
I don’t do any tests, all assignments like, Hey, there’s no exam anymore. So your CPT is another assignment I’ve changed and revamped all my stuff. So that it’s really not only engaging for them but relevant. And I think that’s the most important thing. If it can’t be relevant, if it’s, I usually ask myself, if I wouldn’t do the, is I’m not gonna make them do it. Hmm. Right. It might be better because I’m a little bit inclusive to age. I kind know what they like, you know what I mean? Like that might be a factor, but if I’m not feeling this, if I’m not vibing with it, then I’m not going to give it out to my students. Right. and so I think, especially on a time where, you know, they, half of them don’t want to be on the screen.


Jason Eduful (26:48):
Half of them don’t want to be, they rather be playing video games. They’d rather be with their friends. They can’t do that. Mental health is a really big factor right now that I think a lot of us are forgetting to acknowledge. So why give them stuff that you wouldn’t even want to do? Mm. You know what I mean? So I, I, I would go back to rationale, why are we giving this to them? Right. I think people forget that we’re honestly living through history right now. like and we can accomplish so much more if we just take the time to slow down and give out relevant assignments, relevant topics, relevant lessons. And I think that will help people in terms of what we’re struggling with, you know, and gotten some of the mistakes that we’re seeing.


Sam Demma (27:32):
Yeah. I love that. That’s awesome. Jason, I could talk to you for an hour, man. This has been an amazing conversation and will definitely do a part two part three. If any educator right now is listening into this, maybe from another province or country and thinks this guy has some cool ideas. This guy’s unique, this guy’s out the box. I wanna talk to him and just bounce some ideas around, how can another educator reach out and have that conversation?


Jason Eduful (27:56):
Yeah, for sure. I would say thank you please, please do reach out. they can find me on Twitter @__MrE. Also, if you wanna shoot me an email Jason.Eduful@dpcdsb.org. Cool. Those are my two main platforms.


Sam Demma (28:16):
Yeah. Awesome. Jason, I’ll be staying in touch and this has been phenomenal. So thank you so much for taking the time to chat.


Jason Eduful (28:23):
Thank you so much Sam. Have a good one.


Sam Demma (28:26):
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 Jason Eduful

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Eric Windeler – Founder & Executive Director of Jack.org

Eric Windeler Founder and Executive Director of Jack.org
About Eric Windeler

Eric (@EricWindeler) started Jack.org with his wife Sandra Hanington and their closest friends in May 2010 after losing their son Jack to suicide. Since then, Eric has put aside his business interests and leads Jack.org full-time. Eric works tirelessly to inspire discussion about mental health, especially among young people. In 2013, Eric received the Champion of Mental Health award from CAMIMH and the QE Diamond Jubilee Medal.

In 2015, Eric was honoured by Queen’s University, receiving an honorary degree (LLD) recognizing his work in the field of mental health. In 2017, Eric and Sandra Hanington received the Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division) from the office of the Governor-General. Most recently, Eric was selected as one of the 150 CAMH Difference Makers for mental health in Canada. Eric is also the recipient of the 2018 Queen’s Alumni Humanitarian of the Year Award and the 2020 Ontario Psychiatric Association’s Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award. Eric sits on the board of Frayme, a youth mental health best practices charity.

Connect with Eric: Email | Twitter | Linkedin | Website | Instagram

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

www.bethere.org

Jack Chapters

Jack Talks

Jack Summits

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 dot high-performing educator.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 Eric Windeler. Eric started jack.org with his wife, Sandra Hanington and their closest friends in May, 2010 after losing their son Jack to suicide. Since then, Eric has put aside his business interests and leads jack.org. Full-Time. Eric works tirelessly to inspire discussions about mental health, especially among young people.


Sam Demma (01:10):
In 2013, Eric received the champion of mental health award from CAMH and the QE diamond Jubilee medal. In 2015, Eric was honored by Queens university receiving an honorary degree, recognizing his work in the field of mental health. Eric and his wife, Sandra have been acknowledged and recognized by the office of the governor general. Eric was selected as one of the 150 CAMH different makers in mental health in all throughout Canada. He was the recipient of the 2018 Queens alumni, humanitarian of the year award and the 2020 Ontario psychiatric associations, mental health advocate of the year award. Everything that Eric and his wife, Sandra and the entire team at jack.org do is helping to create the future of mental health in Canada. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Eric. It’s filled with actionable ideas and resources to start mental health conversations in your schools. We’ll see you on the other side.


Sam Demma (02:11):
Eric, welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today.


Eric Windeler (02:18):
Yeah, it’s my honor, Sam, to have talked with you before and seen you in action and just a real pleasure to be here and represent our work at checkout over. So thank you.


Sam Demma (02:28):
Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and maybe sharing a little bit about your upbringing and what brought you to where you are today?


Eric Windeler (02:34):
Sure. So you know, I’m an old guy, not like you Sam. Ive been around for awhile. I often say, you know, kind of start with humble beginnings to come from a large family. My dad was from a very rural part of Nova Scotia. My mom was from Cape Breton and my dad had six brothers and sisters and I have five brothers and said, I’m sorry, he had five brothers and sisters. I do too. So so grew up with a big family. I was the second youngest and we were at Halifax when I was born, but we, we did move all over the country. So live for Halifax for a while. Then in Calgary then just outside of Ottawa, you probably have heard of Canasta. It was just a, you know, just a little tiny suburb, but those times it’s grown now.


Eric Windeler (03:23):
And then back to Halifax for high school. And then I went on to Queens university. That was, that was in the time that was sort of a little bit you know reaching because you may not remember this, but Ontario used to have grade 13, but most of the rest of the country didn’t sound. So you know, I arrived having you know, gone through grade 12 and I did fine. And but everybody else sort of had one more year and they had, some of them had taken pre-calculus and things like that. But so first year it was a little challenging for me at university, but I caught up and then I went on to I did business school eCommerce at Queens, and then I always had the desire to be an entrepreneur.


Eric Windeler (04:10):
My dad always told me about how he wished he had tried to start something. And so I had a paper route when I was like 11 years old. And then I started a little paint contracting company when I was in high school. And so I worked in consulting for four years, right out of university. But then I got involved and started up an automotive firm with, with another fellow. And then we brought in a junior partner and kind of a firm that backed us. And that from that, that that company grew rather large. And that kept me busy until 2003. We sold the business at that point and then got into the software space and that really taught me a lot about that aspect of it. And I mentioned that in particular, because the, the entrepreneurial background, but also the business, you know, getting involved in software and internet related things has really helped our work at jack.org. But I was about seven years into into the software business when we lost my son, Jack, and that really, you know, appended and changed my, my life that was in March of 2010.


Sam Demma (05:24):
Wow. Let’s, let’s, let’s explore the startup jack.org for a second. So, you know, Jack passes away, what did the weeks, months, years, you know, immediately after the event, like, like how did that all lead up to jack.org starting?


Eric Windeler (05:40):
Yeah. Well, thanks for asking that. And it’s, it’s heavy. Obviously we, we didn’t even know my son Jack was struggling. I often say, you know, intellectually, it took after my, my wife, because he did great in school. He actually streamed gifted no trouble getting into his university of choice, which happened to be Queens university. And and yet you may know this, but these transition years, age 15 to 24, roughly where jack.org focuses that’s the time of about 75% of the onset of mental illness. So, you know, back in 2010 people, weren’t really weren’t really talking too much about mental health. It was just getting going. And frankly, we weren’t talking about it as a family and we didn’t even know he was struggling. And I’m assuming he was feeling very bad about the fact that he couldn’t go to class class and, and was probably going to lose this year, et cetera.


Eric Windeler (06:35):
And, you know, then we got a call from a police officer. So unfortunately you know, our tragic story is they found him in his residence room. He had died by suicide and it’s devastating for any family as you can appreciate and you know, to lose, to lose a young person in any way, shape or form, but, but straight out of the blue like that. But, you know, I often say as we, as we started to pick ourselves up, we started to look into it. And I feel very fortunate that my co-founder Sandra Hannington, my wife, and a really close family, friends were kind of behind me to kind of look into it. And Sandra and I made a significant Memorial donation to kids help phone in Jack’s memory, you know, just thinking that would do some good, but that led to me not going back to my business career.


Eric Windeler (07:32):
But I actually you know, every day I went to the kids help phone office as a volunteer and we, we decided, and they were really, really helpful in guiding me to think through this, to not just plunge in and do something, but to really do a landscape scan and see what was going on out there and find out where we could really make a difference. And so that pilot study led to what has become the jack.org model. We found out that young people were both at the highest risk, but really being left out of this mental health conversation. So that has led to so for two years of our kids help phone, we, at that time, we were called the Jack project at kids help phone. Cause we were technically a project we weren’t a charity.


Eric Windeler (08:21):
And then we tested our model by shifting our funds and our initiative to Queens university. And the young leaders there supported our work to reach out to young people all across the country. And then we said, no, we’ve got something here. So and we had raised quite a bit of money by then. So we we started we did the application process. You, you actually incorporate, and then you apply to be a chair of a charity. And because we had done all that, pre-work with kids help phone and Queens, we got our charitable status literally in less than 60 days, which is a is a bit of a record. And and we’ve been growing ever since. So it was very, very critical and we still work closely with kids help phone, but to get the guidance of that organization.


Eric Windeler (09:10):
And then the support at Queens to help us launch as an independent charity and you know, fast forward to today, we have over 60 staff and there’s about 3000 young people who volunteer in our programs because we are all about engaging young people and using what we call a peer to peer model of it, upstream education of young people to really help them you know learn about the mental health situation that they may face, or one of their friends or family, you know, brothers and sister may face you know, learn about resources. And it has the effect of both reducing stigma and increasing help seeking, you know, so to, to make it personal again for a moment you know, Jack received none of that type of training, nor did the residents dawns or the students on his floor.


Eric Windeler (10:03):
So they didn’t know how to reach out to support, nor did he know how to reach out for, for assistance. And you know, it, it kind of reminds me of a study that was done I think about 2016. And at that time 53% of young people were having their first interaction with the mental health system when they were in crisis. And so they were taken to an emergency room and, you know, probably, you know, or having suicidal thoughts, et cetera, and you don’t want to, you know, you don’t want to have your first interaction in that kind of situation you want to you wanna, you know, learn about mental health, learn how to build your own coping mechanisms and figure out where you can get more of what we call community care. That is more appropriate because we also have learned that if you get help early the outcomes are very good.


Eric Windeler (10:57):
So we feel that if we had, if we had known enough to talk to Jack about it, if those around him who were at, you know, seeing his change in behavior had known we more, more than likely would have had a much different outcome. Yes, he may have lost a year of school, but we would have figured out a way to get him some support and, and you know, once a year in a long lifetime, right. You know, it’s almost just like taking a gap year. So unfortunately that didn’t happen for us, but we’re committed to, to helping other young people and communities all over Canada with our work and happy to explain more, if you’d like to know more about about the work we do.


Sam Demma (11:37):
Absolutely. this is phenomenal. I was actually going to start by asking you, can you clarify for everyone listening, what mental health actually is? Because I feel like sometimes there is still this idea that it’s, you know, mental health is having a, a challenge or a mental problem. And it’s like, no, I think mental health is something we all experience. So what is like the jack.org view on mental health?


Eric Windeler (12:00):
I will, I’ll, I’ll just qualify that by saying, you know, I am an advocate okay. With a business background and yes, I’ve been in the space for 11 years, but I’m not a trained psychiatrist, but what I have learned is we all have mental health, just like you alluded to, you know, we all can have good days and bad days. But at least one in five of us will live with a mental illness and people often, you know, conflate or confuse those terms. You know, like someone will say, oh, that person has a mental health. I mean, it’s just wrong. And that person may live with a mental illness. So it’s really on a spectrum and this actually happens in our Jack talks. We teach the youth audience about the spectrum of, of, you know, from healthy to struggling from you know, all and all about how you may be in, in, you’re not in one place all the time.


Eric Windeler (12:59):
And what’s really interesting about mental health and mental illness is you can actually live with a mental illness, a diagnosable mental illness, but you, if you have the right care and that may, in some cases be talk therapy, it may be your own you know toolkit that you’ve built to take care of your own mental health and maybe medication, et cetera. But you can, you can actually thrive. And the flip side of that is you can really struggle if you, if you’re not taking care of your mental health appropriately, even though you might not have a diagnosable mental illness. And you know, I’ve come across so many young people in our, in our journey that have, have learned how to take care of their mental health. And they may have even been in a place previously where they were actually hospitalized, but they’ve learned how to take care of their mental health if got the appropriate care.


Eric Windeler (13:53):
And now they’re doing just great. And many of our young leaders in our network are amongst them because they, they also get a benefit of giving back. And that really, you know, I’ll say it’s really helped me in our family to be open about this and to help others. It, it, it has a payback in, I always see the same thing with our young leaders that when they’re helping their peers it really also helps them you know, in their journey as well. I don’t know if that totally answers your question, Sam, but, but people should really understand we all have mental health and some of us live with a mental illness that is at a diagnosable level, but in any event, we all should be learning how to recognize those signs and symptoms and learn how to take care of our own mental health and do our best to support those around us ourselves, but also to help them navigate to to the appropriate care. Should they need it?


Sam Demma (14:51):
You alluded to a couple of things I want to go a little deeper on. You talked about Jack talks. So what is a, or what is it, what is Jack toxin? Yeah. Tell, tell me more about that. Why you think it’s so important and how it’s been going so far in the schools that you’re affected.


Eric Windeler (15:06):
So as an authentic youth engagement youth leadership charity, we have always developed our programmatic work by listening to young people and and incorporating, you know, what they what they wanted to see and bringing their voice to the table. So very early on in the process, it was actually in March, 2013, we had our first national what we call Jack summit. So it was a national conference where we had at that time 200 youth speakers or not youth speakers, young people from every province and territory brought them to Toronto for a conference. And I distinctly remember two things that I’ll share with you. One was that a lovely young person who was giving a speech and sharing her story on stage was actually telling her story in a way that triggered the audience. And it was in such a way that several of the audience members left the room.


Eric Windeler (16:05):
They were, it, it was upsetting to them. And so we learned from that experience, but a lot of the youth started telling us, we’d like to learn how to share our story, but I’m not trying to blame that young woman, but not like that. We want to do it in a safe and appropriate way. So we did the research and have followed the evidence and ever since then, our Jack talks program has existed in evolve each year. So in short, a Jack talk is a peer to peer mental health education. Each, each summer, we train about 150 young people who volunteer to go through about 50 hours of public speaking training. And remember Sam, not, not all young people are naturals like yourself.


Eric Windeler (16:53):
I didn’t know you had that technology, but I’m serious about that. You know, I happen to be fairly comfortable with public speaking when I was your age. And, you know did, did some talks and that sort of thing, but not everybody is, but we take them through public speaking and teach them how to learn how to safely and in a hopeful way share their mental health story. So a typical Jack talk is delivered by two of these trained and certified youth speakers. They each share their story, which is a small part of this hour long presentation, but they also educate youth all about mental health and how to recognize those signs and symptoms and how to support people. And overall, it’s just a very engaging way. You can imagine. In typical times, two youth speakers up on the stage of a high school auditorium.


Eric Windeler (17:49):
It’s very engaging for those youth to, to, to to learn about mental health from their peers. It’s way more impactful than, you know, an old guy like me preaching at them, or even a physician preaching at them that peer-to-peer is known to be a very effective way to transfer that information. So this year actually starting last year, we had to pivot our JAG talks and now we do them in digital format. And soon we hope we’ll be returning to both in-person talks and we’ll continue the digital format. So we actually provide schools and school boards with options. They can either share like a personal Jack talk, which a young person could watch on their own time. We also have a classroom addition that the teacher can take their classroom through. And we also offer livestream Jack talks.


Eric Windeler (18:44):
So some schools or communities might prefer them to be delivered in this format over, over zoom or another platform where they, they are alive. And we do a whole number of other things related to that other workshops, et cetera. And we’re continually evolving the program because we evaluated each year and we evolve at each year to, to be that much better. But you know, it’s, it’s an incredible way to, and it’s just one of, one of our key programs that really kind of opens the door and gets a young people, more aware of mental health and and, you know, starts them on that journey of learning. We have lots of ambitions about how we’ll get into things like curriculum development and so on, but, but that was the very first program that started.


Sam Demma (19:34):
That’s amazing. And, you know, you mentioned the impact of peer to peer, and when you’re in high school, a lot of interactions with mental health and mental illness, hopefully, you know, are seen between friends and groups of friends, and maybe you have a friend that’s struggling. I remember when I was in high school, we had one friend who’s struggled a lot, and we all tried to be there for that person. And sometimes you’re not sure, you know, how to be there for the person. What the correct thing to do is you don’t want to do the wrong thing. And I know that, you know, jack.org and you and the team have put together an incredible resource that not only teaches you how to be there, but it takes you through, you know, what you need to do and how to identify, you know, the situation. And can you talk a little bit about that resource and share what inspired the creation of it and the impact it’s having today?


Eric Windeler (20:20):
Yeah. And that’s, that’s one of our four key programmatic pillars. And you use the words be there. That’s exactly what young people started saying to us. And again, it was back about four years ago as, as their audiences of the, of the JAG chapters and the JAG talks you know, it was making young people more comfortable disclosing what they’re going through to each other. So many of our young leaders started saying we need some additional training for how to be there for, for our peers. And so again, we started with, you know, like we were taught back in the early day, we started with a landscape scan to see what was out there. And we couldn’t find either nationally or globally anything that was really engaging and also relevant for young people. There’s other good programs. I’m not trying to discredit them, but there was a real opportunity for us to make a contribution here.


Eric Windeler (21:18):
So we put out a request to our funders and literally in about three months raised about 600,000. And I only mentioned that because we didn’t sort of build this off the side of our desk in 15 minutes. It was a very thoughtful process to see what was out there, do the evidence. And we landed on something, we call the five golden rules, which, which help you learn about mental health recognize signs and symptoms, and, and learn how to kind of weigh into these difficult conversations and to do so in a way that also protects your own mental health on the way. So that digital resource, which is called, be there, and it’s at our, we only have two websites, jack.org, and be there.org. It’s a free available website. It’s been, it’s been used by over 800,000 young people to date in just over two years.


Eric Windeler (22:13):
And we’re really excited about the next phase of be there because it’s a, it’s a resource and that you can go and check out, but a lot of young people frankly, would go and quickly check it out, might spend five or 10 minutes on the site, but to learn all the content you need several hours. And so we’re developing what we’re calling a B their certificate program. And this is really for people like residents dawns. So they, you know, that their employer, the university could say, you know, we don’t want you to just check out that site. We want you to learn all this content. And we’re partnered with a us foundation. I think I told you on our warmup call, it’s their founders, a little better known than me lady Gaga and her mother founded born this way foundation.


Eric Windeler (23:02):
And they reached out to us when the pandemic hit and asked if they could get involved with the meta resource. And at that time it was just the regular, resouce. bethere.org. But they’re helping us fund, we’re doing the development work, but they’re helping us fund and they will be spreading the, be their certificate program across the U S while we’re doing it here across Canada. And we’re really excited about that. And looking forward to launch that in early 20, 22, so another, you know, five or six months. So that’s the resource and it’s, it’s not just for young people to help other young people. It’s really for anybody who wants to learn how to support a young person in their life. And you know, not everybody is as passionate about mental health as our young leaders. And I know you have a big passion for it, Sam, but if they know about it and they see one of their friends struggling, it’s a place they can go and learn how to, you know, weigh into those difficult conversations. So it’s made up of a bunch of engaging videos of really storytelling of how one, you know maybe one friend was there for his or her friend how a parent was there for their or their child. You know, how you know how one, one peer can support another. So, thanks for asking about that.


Sam Demma (24:26):
It’s a phenomenal resource. And I enjoyed hearing about it the first time we chatted and I thought it would be something worth highlighting and sharing as well. Those were, those were the two of the four pillars. So now we’ve talked about Jack talks, we’ve talked about be there, you mentioned there being four key pillars. What are the other two? And can you speak on those very briefly as well?


Eric Windeler (24:45):
Absolutely. So the, the next program after Jack talks is something called Jack chapters. So these are youth led groups at high schools, colleges, universities, and in community settings. And now they exist all over the country and every province and territory. And you know, it probably makes sense to you that if you just do one Jack talk and then the school does nothing else, period, things just sort of settle back to normal. And that’s why, you know you know, we have the vision of creating more content and more curriculum down the road. And we’re in the early stages of planning that, but chapters are a way that a youth led group conform at one of these schools or in one of these communities and kind of keep that conversation going all year long. So a typical job chapter, and there’s, there’s about 250 of them.


Eric Windeler (25:41):
It has been the most difficult program to operate during the pandemic. So a little under 200 of them have been very active during the pandemic, but at a lot of schools and some of the harder hit areas extracurricular activities have just been put on hold. But they’re really trying to share share resources, share engagements in a typical time, they’ll get together with, with peers, you know, and it could be a sporting based event. It could be an art based event. We try to reach out to different parts of the community, and then we’ve the importance of mental health into those conversations. So it’s we’re, it often call it the real core because yes, it’s great that we have, you know, 250 chapters, but there’s over 3000 high schools in Canada, Sam. So we really need to expand that program. And it is so fantastic to see what many of these chapters have done.


Eric Windeler (26:38):
And we now are evolving the program so we can have what we call sort of low and high engagement chapters. So some of the chapters do just fun little initiatives to kind of get the awareness going lower stigma. Some of the more advanced, mainly post-secondary chapters are doing some very sophisticated things. We have now a youth informed campus assessment tool, for example. So they actually learn how to partner with our administration, do a landscape scan on their campus and really interview students about the resources that are on campus. Do you know about it? Does it work for you what could what’s missing, et cetera, and that underpinned some of their advocacy work to have a kind of an evidence-based informed way of, of advocating for, you know, better services you know, in their, their school or in their community.


Eric Windeler (27:32):
So that’s the Jack chapters program the file program actually maybe I should have started with that because it actually came first and that’s called the Jack’s summit program. So these are you know, we’re trying to reach a very broad audience, but we do have these young leaders in our network and the Jack summits are a way to bring together these young leaders to train them really connect them to one another, let them learn from one another, have collaboration sessions, bring in expert speakers, et cetera. And this year there’s about I think about 25 of these summits across the country. Obviously sadly, they all had to be virtual this year, but that program has worked very well virtually. So we have the national Jack summit, as I alluded to earlier, we have six large regional Jack summits one in BC, one in the far north with students from all three territories involved one in the Prairie’s one in Ontario, one a Francophone one that I used to say was based in Quebec, but it’s really just for any Francophone students, cause there’s many Francophone students outside of Quebec.


Eric Windeler (28:43):
And then there’s one in Atlantic, Canada, and then the local Jackson mitts are smaller events where like one high school may invite the student leaders from the neighboring high schools. And they’ll have a smaller event really focused on their, their community, wherever that might be. So that’s the four programs talks chapter summits, and then the digital resource be there. We do a lot of other things, but I think that’s you know, that that will be the, a good summary for your amazing audience.


Sam Demma (29:13):
I never forget after we first connected and I asked you for more information and you sent me over the email with documentaries and videos and programs, and it was like a never ending resource. That’s what it felt like when I opened it. And it just so cool to see how many things are getting done behind the scenes that soon will no longer be behind the scenes. And yeah, I, I just, I can’t wait to see the continued impact. What personally keeps you motivated? Like what personally keeps you motivated and hopeful to continue doing this work?


Eric Windeler (29:48):
Well, it’s you know, often put it in another way. I’d say I’m incredibly, obviously we had a tragedy which got this all started, but I’m incredibly fortunate. And I, I, I would wish for others who are in the later stages of their career to have an opportunity to give back. So just giving back period is a very motivating thing. But you know, I had a successful business career and all I could really say was, well, we created lots of jobs and that is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. But this is truly helping people and, and in many respects changing the trajectory of their life. And in some cases, you know, we don’t have, I can’t point to exact evidence, but, but you know, it is a public health initiative and we kind of think, you know, if you, I may have used this analogy when we spoke earlier, but if you can help somebody learn not to start smoking you can probably have an impact on the health of them, their physical health later in life.


Eric Windeler (30:51):
And it’s the same with mental health. If you can provide that knowledge upstream, you will change the trajectory. And yes, suicide remains the the leading health-related cause of death of young people, which is completely unacceptable. But it’s still a fairly you know, it’s not happening it’s happening far too often, but it’s, it’s fairly infrequent, but it’s just a marker for the amount of struggle that is out there. And if you think about, you know, living with a mental illness and, you know, you’re having trouble getting out of bed, you can’t go to class, you can’t maintain employment, you can’t do relationships. There’s also a huge payback to, to the economy by, by letting young people sort of perform at their best. Because then they’re going to be gainfully employed. They’re going to be paying taxes, all those sorts of things, their, their relationships will be better. Their schooling will be better. So it’s tremendously satisfying. I’ve frankly never worked harder, but never never also wanted to work harder than this it’s, it’s, it’s been very gratifying to be involved in. And we’re so grateful for the supportive community that we’ve created not only of young people, but of, you know, donors and sponsors and volunteers who support that work that we do to allow it to happen.


Sam Demma (32:18):
Amazing. That’s awesome. And I can’t, yeah, I can’t wait for the future and to continue to see the impact and the implementation of the pillars and the curriculum as well. I think it’d be so cool if there was a mental health class in every high school, maybe that’s something that you guys are working with.


Eric Windeler (32:33):
It’s kind of hard to believe that there isn’t, when you thinkbout it, it doesn’t make sense. You know, it’s interesting, we’ve started discussing things cause there are curriculum organizations. And so we’re, we’re thinking about how we might, we’ve been in touch with a few of them, how we might either partner with those kinds of organizations, because frankly they don’t have much expertise in mental health. And we think we would be very well positioned to you know, I have a bit of a vision. I’m probably talking a little out of turn, but to pilot that with a school board or ideally a provincial ministry and really test it. But, but you know, definitely, there should be, there should be some mental health basics even before high school, but by the time you get to high school, there should be a content because we’re reaching lots of young people, hundreds of thousands of young people, but we’re not reaching every school in every community. And you should learn about something this important to your life, just like you should learn how to read and write and do arithmetic, you know, and it will be there. It will, it will happen. And we’ve got a lot of the content that will help inform that and be part of it. So that’s part of the big plans that are out there. It’s just a matter of when, right? It’s not what just as a one. But this has been a great conversation, Eric, thank you so much for taking some time to chat about jack.org, the pillars, what you’re working on. You know, the view on mental health, how it differs from mental illness and just the whole conversation.

Sam Demma (33:19):
I hope that now you listening right now, taking something valuable away from this. And if you want to get in touch with Eric, Eric, please share how an educator can reach out or get ahold of you guys.


Eric Windeler (34:18):
Well, I mentioned earlier, obviously, we have two websites to check out, jack.org, and bethere.org. There’s, there’s a way you can reach out generically to the organization. And we monitor that, that it’s, it’s we call it the whole inbox. It’s just hello@jack.org. But you can also, for example, a great way for schools or educators to start is with a Jack talk. And, you know, you can just go to jack.org/talks and it lays out, you know, if you’d like to arrange a talk, there’s a way you can get in touch with us there. We, we are on socials quite active and I would say disproportionately active for a mental health organization. We have bigger followings than most. We’re at, we’re at jack.org, but it’s spelled out its jackdotorg on most platforms, but probably most active on, on Instagram because that’s where a lot of young people are.


Eric Windeler (35:17):
One of our interns this summer got us just barely kicked off on TikTok. We’ve always been active obviously on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. But Instagram is probably the quick way to start. I’m at Eric Windeler. But so if people wanted to reach out by socials, they could do that. I’m easy to find online eric@jack.org. So you know, obviously I don’t necessarily, can’t keep up with a thousand emails, but I’d love to hear from educators and I would guide them to the right person on the team, for more information. So thanks, for offering that up to Sam.


Sam Demma (35:55):
Again, Eric, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you, keep up the great work it’s very needed. And I look forward to talking to you again soon.


Eric Windeler (36:02):
Absolutely. Sam, just a pleasure and thanks again and congrats again for the amazing grad talk you gave, I really found that incredible.


Sam Demma (36:13):
And there you have it, another amazing guest and amazing interview on the high-performing educator podcast. As always, if you enjoyed 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 want to meet the guest on today’s episode, if you want to 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 feel your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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