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John Dennison – Student Success Teacher at Corner Brook Regional High School

John Dennison - Student Success Teacher at Corner Brook Regional High
About John Dennison

John(@Jnosinned) is an experienced Special Education Teacher and Student Success Teacher, at Corner Brook Regional High in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, with a demonstrated history of working with Student Leadership in Newfoundland and nationally with the Canadian Student Leadership Association.

John is a graduate from Memorial University of Newfoundland with bachelors and Masters degrees in Education. He is also skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Coaching, Facilitation, Management, public speaking and Social Media.

John is a very proud father of his son Tyler, a business graduate, working in Corner Brook, and his daughter Andressa who is currently teaching in Alberta. John is retiring from his current position at the end of this current school year, and is looking forward to the unwritten adventures that await him and his wife Katherine in the future.

Connect with John: Email | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Cornerbrook Regional High School Website

Canadian Student Leadership Conference

Memorial University of Newfoundland Programs

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):
Of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today’s guest is all the way from Newfoundland and Labrador. He is the student success teacher at Cornerbrook Regional High Western school district. He manages dozens of students who might need just a little additional support, or that might be learning in a slightly different way. Today’s guest John Denson has made a huge impact on students within his region. And what makes his story so inspiring is that the work he’s doing for these young people is very similar to the work that he had and support he had back when he was a student going through a very traumatic time in his own life. You’ll hear his humor, his, his jokes. They’re, they’re pretty good. You’ll also hear his dog barking a little bit. In this episode, it’s a very authentic down to earth interview, and I’m super excited to bring it to you today. John has a heart of gold and you’ll hear about it in this episode. Hope you enjoy this, I’ll see you on the other side. Okay, John, thank you so much for coming onto the high performing educators podcast. Tell the audience where you’re from, the little island that you’re from, that you’re super passionate about. You just told me about, please also explain who you all are and how you got into the work that you’re doing and have done over the past 30 years, almost congratulations in education

John Dennison (01:30):
So, okay, so I’m, I’m like I said to you, I’m, I’m honored to be included in this program again, I’m not quite sure how how I got chosen, but it’s certainly an honor to be included in this wonderful podcast with you. I’m from a little tiny island called Twillingate, off the Northeast coast of Newfoundland. Also known by Readers Digest, pegged it as the iceberg capital of the world, believe it or not. And of course, Newfoundland is the tiny little island off the Northeast coast of North America, half an hour ahead of everybody else, which can sometimes cause glitches when you’re doing podcast interviews, apparently . But anyway, I’m a student success teacher in Corner Brook on the west coast of Newfoundland. And I’ve been engaged with this program for about 10 years now.

John Dennison (02:21):
I’m a special education teacher but this program is designed to work with students who are at risk for whatever reason of not being successful in school. So it’s my task to motivate and try to get them through school with whatever means it takes whatever we can do to support them, their families, whatever, to get them through high school. As compared to who, you know, my special education teacher background, who is who we have the students assigned to us based on exceptionalities, those kinds of things. These, the students I work with now are just students that for whatever reason are not getting through school and are at risk and not being successful all in living through the cracks. But in the meantime, I was introduced 13 years ago, this, this September to the Canadian student leadership conference, just by being asked to tag along as a, a van driver to take some students to St.

John Dennison (03:13):
John’s to a national conference. And and I got hooked, I got hooked line and sinker by as a Newfoundland expression by the whole philosophy of student leadership through council school spirit you know, the motivational pieces of, of watching and motivating students go beyond what they ever thought they were capable of. And as myself as a teacher seeing at this conference you know, motivational speakers like mine, who, who knew that they, their engagement in school was more than just textbooks and notes and, and assignments and tests and quizzes, that there was a bigger role for us all to play in the life of the school and through motivating our students to, to go above and beyond. So, you know, I came back from that conference, totally pumped and, and fueled up, ready to go. I watched my students the same that year as well as my teacher comrade room in Austin, who, who was there with me.

John Dennison (04:18):
And anyway, I kind of like quietly evolved into taking over the student council from my friend Ruben to the point that became, you know, my second passion along with the students that I worked with. And, and we were fortunate enough in 2011, myself and Ruben to host our own student leadership national conference here in Cornerbrook. And and again, that just fueled us and our staff F at the time. And and you know, it’s just been wonderful experience. And, you know, it’s, it’s something that has certainly made the last 13 years of my career a much more enjoyable component and, and aspect to, to being the teacher that I guess I never really knew I was, but found a, that I could be all through student leadership and student engagement and all these wonderful things.

Sam Demma (05:06):
It’s so cool. They say that the teacher learns the most, right. And you know, you’re at the same time, you’re also the student. And it sounds like you embody that philosophy, which I think is so important, you know, remind ourselves that, you know, even though we’re teaching, we’re still growing. And I think that’s a, a beautiful mindset to have, especially during a difficult time you’ve been doing this on the cusp for 30 years. that’s yeah. 10 years older than I’ve been alive.

John Dennison (05:33):
I’m yeah. Fortunately you can’t see the gray in my beard because this is all on this is just an audio version, but yeah. But yeah, I still look like I’m like 19 years old, to be honest, my voice sounds a little more mature, but no, just kidding. You got anyway. Yeah. 30 years.

Sam Demma (05:50):
Yeah. You got the energy of a young person. And that’s a huge compliment

John Dennison (05:55):
well, thank you. It is only Wednesday though. so talk to me Friday.

Sam Demma (06:02):
Depends when people tune in, but you’re so right. What keeps you going 30 years? What keeps you motivated and hopeful and inspired?

John Dennison (06:11):
It’s funny. I, I, I, I don’t wanna talk about myself a lot. I, I, I left high school. I was 16 when I graduated from high school, believe it or not, because my birthday is at the end of December. Mm. And when I left high school, my dad passed away when I was 12. And, and quite, quite ultimately I became lost soul as well. And I know now looking back that I was depressed, I was getting had marks, and I was wishing I was getting higher marks with all my good friends sitting around the back of the class with me kind of thing. And somehow, and, and I won’t get into the whole story, but I stumbled into education. And you know, I landed myself in this position and then all these different pieces of puzzle came together that, that put me in the opportunity to work with students who were me ultimately, you know, like I, I, I, when I did my special education degree, I had the goal to to diagnose myself as a gifted underachiever.

John Dennison (07:10):
And I think that’s probably a lot more common than what we realize is that, you know, there are a lot of gifted underachievers out there who just need somehow to see the light. And I guess, through a number of different things that came away, I landed in a perfect job for me. And it’s, it’s just fueled me to reach out to those people that need reach, to be reached out to, and you know, like even today, and, you know, in, in my 29th and so many months, year, I met a young fellow today, two young fellows today, actually, who are down and out, and they’ve got their issues at home and they’re struggling to get through school. I had the conversation with them about me. I reflected back to me who would, you know, my situation, which is too many years ago, for me to even tell you, you know, and, and they connected and I managed to connect with them.

John Dennison (07:59):
So those connections are really the opportunity each day. So I can’t wait to go to school again tomorrow just to see if he came back and they came back. And if they’re there and if they’re not trying to figure out what I can do to, to bring them back, you know, and, and I’ve realized over the years, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned, I think is a teacher is a that I can’t win them all. I can’t win all the battles. It, it takes more than me wanting it. It has to be, the student has to want it. Somehow. I have to instill it in their heart. That it’s one that an education of being successful has to be one of their top three priorities. It has to be beyond getting the drugs and the hits. And, and sometimes it has to be number four, getting fed for that day or whatever the case may be. So you know, it’s just, it’s just that fuel and that passion is still in there. And I don’t think it’ll ever leave me. When I do retire, I’ll find something to help somebody somewhere, you know, just kind of build to me. And again, that’ll lose back to my parents and all those kinds of things, but that’s amazing. It’s just, it’s just an important thing. My dog’s barking in the background. I think she wants to come in, but anyway, that’s okay.

Sam Demma (09:12):

John Dennison (09:13):
I was gonna, I could go on a complete, other tangent on how a Labrador retriever has changed my life and view perspectives on everything too, but

Sam Demma (09:20):
We can talk dogs for sure. I love that. You mentioned, could

John Dennison (09:25):
We, well, I’ll just throw this at you very quick. I’ve had two Labrador retrievers and they’ve taught no matter who shows up at our front door. And this is something that I try to take in perspective, no matter who shows up in my front door, and you could be colored, you could be wearing a turbine. You could be a police officer. You could be looking for food for the food bag, my dog, my Labrador retrievers each and every one of em have always just want to be there. Friends. If you just wanna pet, they wanna lie down. I’ll let you rub their belly. And it really doesn’t matter what color you are, what gender you are, what, what, you know, what, what LGBTQ status you are or who you are that you are welcome to them for a rub on their belly or a pat on their head. And it’s just kind of like something that I’ve watched and realized that yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you, Molly. Thank you, candy. So I love that.

Sam Demma (10:17):
That’s so cool. Anyway, that’s awesome. There you, do. You still have them both.

John Dennison (10:21):
Actually candy passed away, but now I have Malia chocolate lab and I have Marley who’s a little Heese, which in, interestingly enough, I brought back to Newfoundland from CSLC 2009. Wow. In Cochran, Alberta, they both flew down on the plane with me. So they’re my CSLC dogs. Yeah.

Sam Demma (10:38):
So they’re just ingrained in leadership as much as you are. yeah.

John Dennison (10:42):
Yeah. Cool. Yep. It’s is they they’ve taught us a lot. Molly’s chocolate lab, the little Heese is still only 15 pounds. And I’ve learned some things about bullying. Interestingly enough, from the dogs and, and size does matter when it comes to nature. And in some respect bullying, because my chocolate lab will just push the little white dog out of the way, and she’s gonna get, you know, the treat first or whatever. And her little white dog just has to succumb to that. So there’s, I’ve talked about this to some of the kids and, and, you know, like my, my white dog has just accepted it, but still has kept the big chocolate lab as being his best friend. You know? So there’s like, there’s a way to accept, like you’re not really being bullied necessary and it’s not so much the order of size in the species. It’s just kind of like coming to grip, you know, you’re not all gonna be in first place. And, you know, sometimes you have good to make way for the big guy that’s bumbling by first and those kinds of things. Yeah, no, that’s fine. I dunno, sidetrack, you can delete that part if you want to.

Sam Demma (11:50):
Nah, I wanna leave it in the, the authentic stories make this thing so relatable and interesting and you need, especially to your own life.

John Dennison (11:56):
And, and I don’t know if it’s a, it’s like an answer for anybody who’s being bullied, but I think its just, you just realize, you know, this stuff goes on in nature and I’m sure that, you know, in our woods right now and it’s moose hunting season inland that a big gold moose is gonna make with the, the, the pretty female moose over the smaller bull moose just because he is bigger and that’s the way nature works and yeah, you’re right. But in nature sometimes that’s the way things play out anyway. Yeah. Maybe we overthink things too much. Maybe I spent too much time wondering about my chocolate lab pushing my little white thing away from the tree bowl anyway.

Sam Demma (12:33):
That’s okay. I love it. Can you, I know you food for lots of food for thought you would definitely have, you know, dozens, if not dozens, hundreds, if not hundreds, thousands of stories of young people who have come across your classroom, come across your experience, who have had an impact on, do you mind sharing a story and it could be a story that’s you deeply and you can change the student’s name in the sake of privacy. But the reason I want, I want you to share the story is because an educator might be listening. Maybe this is their first year in education and things are so different where they’re living and they’re getting the whole wrong view of what an educator can do for a young person’s life and the impact they can have. Yeah. And, and inspiring story about impacting and changing a young person’s life will remind them by the work they’re getting into is needed now more than ever and really important. Do you have any stories that come to mind?

John Dennison (13:27):
Yeah. And again, it’s hard because , it’s people aren’t naturally, well, I shouldn’t say people because I, I guess Donald Trump is sorry Donald, I threw that out there, but it, but it’s hard to, it’s hard to, I guess, talk about my successes without, you know, trying to become the all end all, but yeah, but anyway, I’ll, I’ll share a couple of stories. I know one of the very first and, and the two stories I can think of that really popped in my head are we have time for two, of course of, I guess if I don’t ramble one has to do with my student success position and the other has to do with my role as a leadership teacher, I guess, and, and student council advisor. I, I remember one of the first students I ever had way back in 2000 leadership role just sort of showed up at our, our high school.

John Dennison (14:20):
Cause I also help early school leaders. We call them now back in the day there were dropouts, but the early school lever term is the nice friendly term for a student who dropped outta school. But this is a student who, this was a young girl who left the high school. And at the time when she left high school, she was babysitting for a local owner and, and she kind of just walked out of school and started a babysitting for, for this particular family. And as when she reached 19, he kind of offered her a job as a bartender or, or his wife did or whatever. And, and she kind of like, she kind of did both things. She was so she was doing making money and stuff and she was content. Anyway, she came knocking on our door one, one September because she was gonna apply to go back to school, to do her early childhood education in training to kind of like open a daycare or, or work at a daycare because she en enjoyed the babysitting and wanted to get outta the bar business because who doesn’t wanna get outta the bar business.

John Dennison (15:22):
Anyway, she realized when she came in that she’d never graduated of all these years, there was probably three years after high school that she thought she had graduated. She was missing one in, in English. Now in, in Newfoundland, we have a general graduation and we have academic and there’s an honors graduation. And she was tr she was looking to graduate generally, which is kinda like, which will get you into community college and an opportunity to upgrade if you wanted to go to university. So anyway, long story short, she ended up doing an English course with kind of online because back then I did have some courses that were not, not virtual, quite like today’s virtual, but there were courses that she could do from home online with a couple of textbooks and email me assignments. So she didn’t have to come into the building to continue working at home.

John Dennison (16:07):
And, and we could, you know, establish that re teacher, student relationship. She was successful. She graduated and she’s now, you know, a proud mom, she’s gotta open her own daycare and been super successful. And, and she always knocks on my door at Christmas time and, and brings me something. A lot of, lot of people know me will appreciate the fact that nine times outta 10, it’s a liquor store give. But anyway you know, and it’s not about the gift, but it’s the fact that she comes in and she has that smile on her face, the same smile that she had the day that I told her. Sure, we can fix this and this is how we’re gonna do it and you’re gonna be fine. You know, it’s just, it’s, it’s just amazing to think back that you know of myself and, you know, wishing that I had somebody who could have reached out to me like that and provided me that opportunity, cuz I was 2% away from getting into university when I left high school.

John Dennison (17:05):
And you know, it took me three years to convince Memorial university to take me. And if I just had somebody at that, that that to go to bat for me and help me figure out how to get those two percents, you know, and anyway, I’m over it now doesn’t sound like it, but I’m over it so anyway, that that’s that, but those are the aspects. Those are the, those are the, the pieces of the puzzle that really help. And, and there’s been quite a few, like you said, there’s, there’s, there’s been well almost 10 years now of, of working with students that, you know, were down and out and needed a little extra something. But, but for the, the teacher that may be listening that’s that, you know, is also got, I am in a unique position cuz the teacher is listening is also worried, most likely worried about, you know, the government exams, the final exams, tests and scores admit wanting, you know, how the overall percentage is for their class.

John Dennison (18:03):
I’m in a very unique position in the sense that I really get to know I’m paid, get to know at, you know, sure. Maybe 80, 90 kids a year, but, but I held them and find out what makes them tick and really be able to, you know, use a priv, whatever it takes to get them up after a and up running or whatever the case may be to start making right decisions and some, some support in making some good choices, those kinds of things. So I get that. I’m unique in that, but I think just connecting with students is so, so, so important and being able to identify a little bit of who they are and what they are and find out where they want to go and, you know, instill on their, and that even if it is a biology or a science or a math or an English class, you’re teaching them, making them somehow connect those little steps and you know, that they’re making in those classes and doing those assignments leads to the bigger steps and the bigger picture that, that whatever their future is that they want.

John Dennison (19:08):
And it’s mind boggling to me to think that so many of the kids in high school right now, the careers aren’t even invented at this point that they’ll be doing, I haven’t got my head around that, but I see it because I’ve the 30 years I’ve taught, we’ve gone from having two or three computers in a school to everybody has a phone now. And everybody has the technology that, that, that 30 years ago we never thought we’d have. And I often think back too about, you know, if I could show my dad who died in 78, I remember he was big on this calculator. He had, that had memory. He bought that summer and an old Polaroid SX, 70 camera that, that, that spit out picture right in front of him. If he could see the photography that a cell phone, the technology in a cell phone and what things are now, I mean, it’s just mindboggling to think what’s happened in my lifetime.

John Dennison (19:59):
You know, the, so anyway, another bit you can cut out if you feel the need later on. The story I have is from a student council, president of mine who who’s got a very special place in my heart. She, her mother passed away. She found her mother dead on her kitchen floor. When she was in grade nine, I think it was, it was the year before we hosted our national conference. And she came to our school as a grade 10 student just after losing her mom, put her, I encouraged her to get involved with student council only because I knew, I knew a little bit of her family. I knew who she had been, not I’d known her, her sisters before. And I knew that she had a spark in her just because of her mom really, and having known her family, that she was to any student council that I was part of and, you know, lock story short.

John Dennison (21:00):
She, she did get involved. She became the president in her grade 12 year and, and she led like many, I’ve had some really strong leaders. She definitely was one of the top, you know, three to five for sure. Went on to become a, a nursing student at Dalhousie has just finished a road scholarship at Oxford and has just been accepted. I hope Micah hope you don’t hear this cause I might get it wrong. I think Berkeley in California to start med school. So she’s a nurse, she’s got a PhD in psychology and she’s off the med school in California and this girl she’s done Ted talks. She, she organized a charity in her mother’s name under the, the cancer society after biking across the province and then hosting, I think it was the equivalent of 10 marathons in 10 days. She organized a charity in her mom’s name that provides money for the transportation of families to be with their family member who’s receiving treatment in St.

John Dennison (22:11):
John’s or in Halifax. She’s got two chapters when she opened it in. She opened the chapter as well in, in a, in Nova Scotia. And she’s just a phenomenal young lady. She always you know, pays homage to me as being a contributor in that which I’m, you know, humbled by because, you know, I just, I really just did what I did for her, what I tried to do for all my students. And that’s just chat and say hello and find out what ticks and help support them and point them in whatever direction it is they wanna go and they need help to find. So that’s kind of, so anyway, it’s, it’s every, every student isn’t a opportunity and every student has something to offer and every student needs an adult in their life and they may already have it, but they also need a teacher just to say, good morning to them in the morning and goodbye to them in the afternoon.

John Dennison (23:06):
And we’ll see you tomorrow more kind of thing. And I think little bits and pieces are important and I don’t stand in the entrance of the building every day and, you know, greet everybody. I don’t, you know, go outta my way to say hello to everybody. But if I’m in the hall and I see people, then I will make sure that they feel if they look uncomfortable or whatever, that, that they’re happy to be there. And you know, if they don’t need me, they’re not going to hear from me. But if, if I get a vibe that maybe they need to say hello, or how are you doing? Is everything okay? Then they’re gonna hear that too. And I think just, you know, making that extra connection besides assigning tests and quizzes and assignments and those kinds of things, but yeah, it was good. It’s a big task. It’s a tall order. It’s huge, but very rewarding.

Sam Demma (23:52):
I was, I was gonna ask you, how do we make young people feel cared for and how do we make them feel appreciated? Is it by those small gestures? Like if there’s a teacher listening right now,

John Dennison (24:03):
It can be, it can be everything. I think from a wink to a smile, wink works well these days with COVID mass on the go knows if it smiles. But, and then of course it is 2020. A wink can be misinterpreted, but usually if it’s coming from a 55 or old bald man, that’s a teacher in your school is probably okay. anyway, it’s, I’ve gotten away with it anyway. But it’s usually followed up with some conversation. But I think it can be anything from, you know the breakfast club, making sure students, you know, just walking through and just connecting, just saying, hello, just how are things going? What are you doing? What can I, you know, it’s just a, a welcome mat. It’s just, I mean, I don’t, I’m not, I don’t take all the advice for my Labrador retriever.

John Dennison (24:55):
I don’t roll around on the floor, expecting people to Rob and tickle my belly, but somehow, you know, my dog could do that. And that, that somehow makes a connection. So it’s just figuring out what to do, then lie down and roll and ask people to pick your tickle, your belly, that that makes them connected somehow. You know another instance that just happened today, for example, a young girl who I knew, I know she ran for student council last year. Didn’t get on, she didn’t get elected. And I just happened to see her today. And we had our meetings today of, of, for our, any students interested in running. And I said to her, I said, you didn’t, you didn’t, you didn’t come to our meeting today. Are you not interested in running for student council this year? And she said, well, no. She said, I struggled with it a little bit last year.

John Dennison (25:43):
And you know, she said, I didn’t get elected and I was kind of, and that kind of stuff. And I said, okay. I said, I totally get that. I said, you know, there’s my daughter ran. She didn’t get elected. And she, she really was uncomfortable with the whole student council thing for a while. But I said, if you stop and think about it, look at you right now. You’re a year older. You’re, you’re more mature. You’re alive. You’re doing well in school. You seem happy cuz every time I see you have a smile on your face. So it wasn’t really that bad you got over it. You’re a little bit stronger for it. Believe it or not. You went through adversity and you’re still smiling and you’re able to talk to me about it. So I would be more than happy to see you throw your hat in the ring again, listen, you remember, you’ve got nothing to lose next year, this time we could potentially be having the same conversation.

John Dennison (26:31):
Sure. You didn’t make it, but you stuck your neck out there and you tried and you gave it your best shot. So if you’re, you know, I just said, if you’re not really interested and it’s not something you want this year don’t bother. But if you think you’ve still got something to offer, well, give it a shot. And don’t forget. We also have two positions on each grade level that are teacher nominee positions. So maybe, you know, you could come and ask a teacher to nominate you and you could be part of the council that way. So anyway, five story short that was at lunch and sometimes you’re wrote the afternoon. She came and sat in the chair next to my desk and she said, you’ve got me thinking about it and she might just run. But anyway, my fingers are crossed. I better not say it secretly for her to run.

John Dennison (27:13):
Oh darn I can’t, I can’t be too supportive. Anyway. I just hope that she runs and we will. Let’s just say, if she’ll be more than welcome if she wins, how does that sound anyway? That’s awesome. It’s you know, it’s just, it’s just making those connections, you know, remembering a face from last year, remembering seeing somebody down and asking them how they are or just, you know, having the opportunity to reach out awesome. Again, it’s, it’s, they’re all different. You know, the, the government tends to, and this is advice for teachers. The government tends to come now with blanket policies that expect every round student to fit in a square hole. And it just doesn’t work in education. We’re a gray science education is a gray science and one size does not fit all. And as a matter of fact, one of the sizes looks really stupid on some. So, you know, it’s, it’s just the, it is. But if we can get the best out of each of them, that’s all we can ask for, but we don’t get paid. We get paid to set up the trough for success, but we don’t get paid for pushing their heads down in the water or in the, so we just gotta roll with that. And every second Thursday we get paid. So there’s that bonus. Yeah.

Sam Demma (28:27):
True. That’s awesome. John, look, I could talk to you for hours on hours. There’s so much wisdom, so many stories to share. I’m sure we’ll do a part two and a part three. If there’s an educator listening right now, who’s thinking, you know, I just got into, this is my first year. This isn’t what I signed up for. This seems crazy. What was advice? Do you wanna end this episode sharing with them?

John Dennison (28:50):
Oh, it’s crazy. No doubt. It’s crazy. Hang on for the ride of your life. It’s interesting because my daughter, I love her she’s high school trained, but she’s in year two of teaching primary elementary in Alberta and she you know, she’s struggling this year. She taught out grade three last year and like I said, she’s high school trained. And this year she’s teaching grade four, so a second lot of curriculum. So I, I know we’ve talked and she’s struggling a little bit with the whole idea of am I cut out to be a teacher? And you know, the reality is you’re not everybody is. I remember I love this little Tibit my mom at my wedding. She, she stood up at the microphone. This was the, this was the year actually I had just started teaching. I had six months in and she said there were two reasons that she knew of that I became a teacher and one was July and the other was August and, and, you know, looking back, there’s nothing wrong with those summer vacations.

John Dennison (29:49):
But I think it’s like everything. It’s like every career I’ve been so fortunate that I’ve gotten this gone to work every morning with a smile on my face. And I’ve left with a smile on my face the last day of the summer before each day of school in September, I have trouble falling asleep because it’s, it’s more about, it’s not anxiety. It’s more about and maybe it’s anxious, but it’s more an excited, anxious about what we’re gonna do. Who am I gonna face? Who the new kids are, you know? And if you can get that passion for your teaching career somehow and real every, we have the opportunity to influence thousands of students in our careers, but the reality is if we do it right, we’re influencing generations upon generat upon generations. Because if I did my job right, 30 years ago, then those parents now something I said or something I entrenched deeply inside them is influencing their kids and so on and so forth.

John Dennison (31:01):
And that’s some something that, that I know it sounds awfully conceded or perhaps a little, you know, top heavy. But if we do our jobs, right, we’re not just teaching them how to go on to university and do better in sciences or English or math or become doctors or lawyers. We’re in, we’re influencing them and how to be become good strong members of society. And I also believe that it takes welders. It takes pipefiters. It takes Walmart greeters, Tim Horton’s workers, doctors, and lawyers, and politicians to change the world and to do good things in the world. It’s not just the high end. It’s, it’s all, it’s all perspective. It’s every student in the building has an opportunity and has just needs a catalyst and just needs to realize that their potential is huge. And we’ve seen that was some of the, you know, some of the protests worldwide, that it’s a shame that some of the incidents that have happened have the result has had to have been protests and those kinds of things.

John Dennison (32:17):
But, but you know, there’s definitely voices out there. There are definitely voices that we need to hear. And a lot of them are young voices. So anyway, because I I’ve always felt it a bit cliche to say that you are the next generation, you, your generation can change the world, whereas they can’t. Yeah. And we’re starting to see that in 20, 20, 20, 21, because hopefully because my, my generation, you know, has helped them in instill that in them, hopefully. True. So anyway, your job next, putting all the pressure on, and you’re doing your part, you’re doing your part, but yeah, no, we can definitely do another part down the road. Well, actually comfortable than I thought.

Sam Demma (32:59):
You’re, you’re a pro. This seems awesome. If anyone wants to reach out to you and talk about some of the stories or just connect, maybe it’s another educator from a different province. What’s the best way for them to get in touch?

John Dennison (33:09):
With you? So I, I’m not a huge fan of Facebook only because I found that it just became too much of what the randomness people do in their day. That that really, I don’t have time to pull around with. I’m on Twitter @Jnosinned, which is Dennison backwards. That was something I maybe we’ll save that story for another time. It’s a good story. It’s something that, that young teachers could do with their with their students sometime for entertainment. Is all about putting your name backwards anyway @Jnosinned. But if you look for John Dennison, I think you’ll find me. My email, school email is johndennison@nlesd.ca ,newfound Labrador English school district cell phone. Now won’t go there. school phone school phone is (709) 634-5828.

John Dennison (34:12):
Cool. they want meal find Google’s amazing that way. Yeah. But definitely reach out. I certainly don’t don’t mind sharing anything, you know, if there’s any future employers out there, by the way I may be looking for, Hey here, I never thought about this before. , here’s, here’s an opportunity to have me come to your school and work for a living or somewhere else. I’ve noted actually that the prison system in Hawaii apparently hires retired teachers to come and work. So the idea of moving from the iceberg capital, the world to probably the volcano capital of the world is kind of appealing, but anyway, we’ll see, but there’s anyway, it suits the, maybe you’ve heard enough for me today.

Sam Demma (34:59):
No, man, I can’t get enough. I’m loving is one of my favorite conversations, but we will, we will wrap it up there and I’m gonna thank you, John, for taking some time to chat and I’ll have you on again soon. This has been a pleasure.

John Dennison (35:11):
Ah, no sweat. I’m I’m here. I’m here. Maybe we’ll start doing a monthly report from the rock

Sam Demma (35:18):
I’m so I’m so down.

John Dennison (35:19):
Cool. And when Dave, when Dave con listens to this and I’m sure my good friend, Dave will listen there will be no screeching involved, Dave, and I don’t think we’ll be doing a, a pod screech in either. So unless, unless Sam, unless you get lots of requests, maybe we could do an after 10?

Sam Demma (35:37):
I’m I’m open to it. love it, John. All right. Thank you so much. Okay. Take care of my friend, such an impactful interview. So many amazing stories. John has so much wisdom to share so much positive energy. I really hope that I can go and meet him soon in person after COVID passes. I think we’d have amazing conversations and I encourage you to reach out to him as well. He would probably love to hear from you. In fact, I’m sure he would absolutely love to hear from you. And I would, I would love for, for you to connect with him. If you did enjoy this, please take two seconds to consider leaving a rating and review. It’ll help more educators, just like you find this content and benefit from it. And if you are someone who has ideas and inspiring stories in education, shoot us an email at info@samdemma.com so we can get you on the show as well. Anyways, I’ll see you on the next episode. Talk soon.

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