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Student Leadership

Bob Kline – Leadership Teacher, Speaker, and Advisor of the Year (2019)

Bob Kline - Leadership Teacher, Speaker, and Advisor of the Year (2019)
About Bob Kline

Bob Kline (@klinespeaks) is the Leadership teacher at Huron Heights Secondary School in Kitchener, Ontario. Currently, there are approximately 180 students in his school’s official student leadership program, with over 100 more in connected programs like Husky Pack, our orientation & mentorship crew.  His students, known as the Huskies, have been recognized three times as having the ‘most school spirit’ at the Ontario Student Leadership Conference (OSLC)!  

These days his cup is full, but he’s living the dream. In 2019, Bob was honoured as the Advisor of the Year. Today, he’s teaching Leadership all day every day and is also part of the coaching squad of the boy’s varsity hockey team. In his spare time, he’s an avid reader, runner, local hockey fan, camper, and proud uncle of two boys.

Connect with Bob: Email | Instagram | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Huron Heights Secondary School

Ontario Student Leadership Conference

Jeff Gerber

Terry Fox Run

PickWaste

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 on the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today’s special guest, Bob Kline was someone that I met back in 2019 at a conference called the Ontario Student Leadership Conference, OSLC. He was awarded the advisor of the year. That’s when I first met him, started talking with him and having amazing conversations. And I’ve come to realize Bob is a one of a kind type of person. You only meet someone like Bob once a lifetime. He has such a huge heart and does such amazing work with the students at Huron Heights Secondary School, where he teaches Bob is a teacher, a leadership teacher in Kitchener at Huron Heights Secondary School here on Heights. There’s approximately 180 students and his student leadership program. He has over a hundred or more and connected programs like Husky pack, their orientation and mentorship crew, and the students at his school known as the Huskies have been recognized three times, it’s having the most school spirit at the conference.


Sam Demma (01:06):
He didn’t understand or imagine that one day he’d be a leadership teacher. But these days his cup is full he’s in his 17th year of teaching. And he says it’s an absolute dream to teach leadership all day long. He’s also a part of the coaching squad for his boys, varsity hockey team. And he’s been developing a partnership with the Polish academy of Canada that facilitates cultural exchanges between European and Canadian students. Professional life aside, you can find Bob reading, running, watching hockey, playing hockey, camping, and being a proud uncle of two boys. This is an interview packed with actionable advice. Enjoy this with Bob Kline, Bob, thank you so much for coming on the high-performing educators podcast. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you on here. I remember when I was sitting in OSLC back before COVID and you won the award for advisor of the year which was phenomenal back then. I didn’t know you well since then we’ve had dozens of conversations and I thought you’d be someone that needs to be on this interview to spread some optimism with fellow colleagues right now, and just some of your good energy with other educators. Can you please introduce yourself, share with the audience who you are and why you got into the work you do with young people today?


Bob Kline (02:24):
Sure. well, thanks Sam. It’s really great to join you on the podcast. I’m really excited. This is my first podcast ever. So, so yeah, like you said, I teach leadership. I teach in Kitchener, Ontario at an awesome school called Huron Heights. I’ve been teaching for about 18 years now. And the way I got into teaching was honestly like I used to teach swimming lessons to little kids when, when I was a teenager and I just loved working with kids. So I became an English teacher first. I taught English for about 15 years and I loved every day of it. And then I stumbled into this amazing, magical world of leadership. And now every day, all the time, all I do is teach leadership at Huron. And I think it’s every leadership teacher’s dream. So I guess I’m living the leadership life and the leadership dream right now. That’s awesome.


Sam Demma (03:26):
Can you define leadership? What, what is leadership? How do you define leadership on a shot at something you’re passionate about sharing?


Bob Kline (03:35):
Wow, so you’re, you’re starting with the big question a, well, I guess something that I always say to my students at the very start of a semester of leadership is you could go on Amazon and search for leadership books and literally you’ll get thousands upon thousands of possible books that you can read. And there’s different. There’s different angles that you can come at leadership from. And I guess the, the teaching of leadership is, is a really, it’s a personal endeavor for all of us who are in this line of work. So I guess for me, like the foundation of leadership is, is for me just teaching kids, how to be a decent human being everything that we do, whether it’s, whether it’s planning a semi-formal dance or doing bingo at lunchtime, all of our work together comes back to us being decent human beings with each other and creating an environment where, where kids can thrive, kids can be themselves and, and PE kids can enjoy it themselves.


Sam Demma (04:52):
Yeah, I think that’s a beautiful definition. And, you know, I talked to other educators, Jeff Gerber talks about the importance of relationship. There’s no leadership without relationships. Everyone I talked to has a very personal definition, which is why I was curious to know your own. And I think just creating, you know, a holistic humans, great people is such an important way to look at it. And I’m curious to know right now during COVID, it’s tougher than ever to continue to do the activities you want to do. How can you still live out that mission of creating awesome humans during a time like COVID-19?


Bob Kline (05:29):
Oh yeah. Ah that’s. That is, that is the, that’s the hot topic right now? Well, in my school, we’re in a unique position, Sam like we, we just had our fifth case of the virus in our school and, and it’s a, it’s a very, very challenging day to day environment. There’s, there’s a lot of stress and so on. The nature of what we do in leadership at high schools has really changed. I’ve been, I’ve been telling people that it’s a, it’s a paradigm shift in education, but it’s also a paradigm shift in student activities across north America and across the world. And it seems like all of us are trying to, to make our way through this situation and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. So for, for us, we, we haven’t been able to do events what, what we’ve done, our approaches we’ve, we’ve started off by just focusing on getting all the students into the building and getting everybody comfortable being in that place.


Bob Kline (06:43):
Again we’re starting to enroll some things this week, like we’re, we’re going back to a very traditional thing at my school. We’re doing, we’re doing door holding and we’re going to do greeters at the door and creating energy in a welcoming environment at the, at the door, which is kind of a, a back to basics thing for us. We’re doing a food drive so that we can give back to the communities. So, so those things are, I guess, things that we can do that, that bring us back to the basics in terms of kind of doing leadership and, and getting the student body through it. I think just talking to kids is, is critical. It seems like the most basic thing. But just having conversations with them and figuring out where they’re at what their hopes and dreams are and, and what they want to do. I think young people also have a lot of ideas for, for what we can do right now, and we really have to tap into that. So, so yeah, it’s a complex beast that we’re, we’re dealing with right now. Isn’t it?


Sam Demma (07:51):
Yeah. I was going to ask, tell me a story where maybe the school or yourself has tried something, you know, the saying, throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks have you experimented with anything just yet, or do you know if someone who’s given something a shot and it could have totally failed. But we can all learn from the mistake. I’m curious to know if any story comes to mind?


Bob Kline (08:17):
Well, I guess something specific to our school is I really feel right now, like, like we’re starting a little bit too late. I was, I was thinking about this and I’ve had a lot of conversations with staff in my building and this, the same conversation keeps happening. It’s nothing fun is happening right now. And what is leadership doing to create fun in the building? And I think a mistake that our, our, our leadership team made is that we, we waited a little bit too long to start doing. And I, I think it would have been okay to start some of our, some of our stuff a little sooner. So, so that’s one thing because what we’ve experienced is we, we’ve completely focused on safety and we’ve completely focused on procedure from the beginning, but the cases are still rising within our school.


Bob Kline (09:18):
So we, we probably could have, and should have done some, some fun stuff to build that community a little bit sooner. And I, I think it’s okay to look critically and think critically about, about yourself and what you’re doing. So, so that’s okay. It’s, it’s never too late to start. But just where we’re a little behind and starting in terms of like ideas and cool stuff that people are doing, there’s, there’s lots of stuff that is going on across Canada, where, where people are doing digital stuff. Something interesting though right now is that students are really craving the human stuff. They want to do the human stuff, and that’s where we have to find our way.


Sam Demma (10:06):
That’s awesome. What is the human stuff? Is, is this like giving back is it, is it just talking to people? What is the human stuff and how like, yeah, I want to know more.


Bob Kline (10:21):
Well first of all, like at a really basic level, we know that students want to be together physically and the ones who are in our building right now the ones who opted to do in-person classes, they opted to do that because they want to see their friends and they want to be with their friends. So that’s the big challenge is, is finding stuff that they can do where they can be together. So one thing that a really awesome teacher at my school did was for Terry Fox throughout September, she created this school-wide spreadsheet and you could take your class out for a walk. She, she mapped out a one kilometer loop on campus, and that ended up being the highlight of the day. Often with my leadership class was when we would take a break from our discussion and our reading and our watching Ted talks, and actually just went outside and just went for a one loop or, or a couple of loops on campus. And the kids could just talk and connect and have that free time. And what we started to see was a lot of classes caught on, and a lot of classes started to do that. And not only did it kind of benefit us in mind and body, but it also gave us a chance to learn a little bit about Terry Fox and participate in the spirit of Terry Fox. So, you know, simple human stuff like that, where it’s a safer environment outside is it is a really great, important thing to do.


Sam Demma (12:01):
That’s awesome. I love that. I know some schools are doing staggered, staggered, Terry Fox runs or walks, which sounds pretty similar, but that’s awesome. And anyone who’s listening, you know, I think it’s a matter of going back to the basics. Walking is basic opening the door and greeting people is basic. What are the basic things we can do to, to greet these kids and make them feel welcomed on the same topic of helping students feel more human and do human things. Do you have a story, Bob, maybe over the past 15, 10, 15 years that you’ve been teaching? I might be even low-balling it. I don’t know how long you’ve been a teacher for now. You look certainly good for if you have been doing it longer than that.


Bob Kline (12:47):
Oh my gosh.


Sam Demma (12:49):
Do you have a story that you can share of a student who’s been just deeply touched and impacted by leadership? And if it’s a story that’s very serious and private and you can change the student’s name to share it, but I want something that’s hardy and vulnerable because when we share a story like this, it reminds our fellow educators, why it’s so important to do the work we do, despite the challenges we’re faced with. It gives other educators hope and inspiration. And do you know of any stories? Does any story come to mind when I asked that question?


Bob Kline (13:22):
Oh, so many, so many, like, you know, Sam, like I know that after you speak kids come up to you and they come up to you and they say, I just have to tell you this. I just have to tell you what happened. And sometimes it’s like this big deep thing. And other times it’s this simple, awesome story. Right? And all of those things that can tell you are, are truly amazing and truly valuable. So same thing, like we’re blessed stay in this line of work. We’re blessed to, to have kids sharing, sharing back with us, how leadership’s impacted them. But one thing that that often comes to mind is, is a story about this student. I, I taught a few times and I coached him on the track team and cross country. His name is Noah and Noah. When, when he was going for his license, he told me that the only thing that he wanted to do, like the first thing he wanted to do when he got his license was drive to McDonald’s and he wanted to go by himself for a meal.


Bob Kline (14:29):
And he wanted to go in and sit in, McDonald’s have the meal and then drive home. Like that was his thing. It’s it sounds silly and fun, but that was his thing. So Noah, a few days after he got his license, he came up to me and he said, I have to tell you about what happened at McDonald’s. I said, okay, great. So Noah went, he drove by himself and went in and had his meal. And as he was coming out of McDonald’s, he passed a homeless guy and the homeless guy said, do you have any change? And Noah said, the thing that most of us say is, sorry, man, I use debit. I don’t have any cash. So Noah told me that he got to his car and he just felt like garbage for just passing this guy by. So he went back and he invited the man into McDonald’s and said, how about, how about I buy you a meal?


Bob Kline (15:27):
So they ended up sitting together in the McDonald’s for about an hour and just having a conversation about life and the man shared with Noah, where he had been and how he ended up homeless, how his life ended up that way. And Noah learned tremendous human lessons from, from just that snap decision that, that simple snap decision that he made and Noah really, really was a changed person. After that. He, he got into global development work. He, he, he joined a class at our school called outreach and traveled to South America to, to actually do some youth development on the ground internationally. And you know, Noah was just, he talked differently. He thought differently has his worldview changed from that situation? And all of that was from a simple act of what I call personal leadership. So you know, like that, that’s one of the biggest stories that stands out to me that I love to tell.


Sam Demma (16:36):
That’s an awesome, awesome story. What prompted that thinking in Noah? Do you think it was from leadership class or the years of teachers that he had? Was it a characteristic that was driven into him by the school? What prompted that selfless act in Noah?


Bob Kline (16:54):
Oh, man. I, I don’t know. It’s hard to know kind of what drives people to do what they do. And you know, I think like in leadership, it’s, it’s funny because it, it, it seems like sometimes leadership and school spirit is all about wearing your colors and doing the rah rah stuff. And, you know, Noah came to OSLC with us, the Ontario Student Leadership Conference, and he heard, he heard all the great speakers and maybe it was just the, the accumulation of all those positive messages that was just inside him that, you know, prompted him to do something good himself. I think I don’t know, Sam, like knowing, knowing about your story and, and how you guys founded PickWaste. I mean, it’s almost a very similar thing. It’s like this, this simple act of, of picking up garbage and just going about that ends up looking and feeling amazing when more and more people do it and, and it feels amazing for yourself. Right. I think that’s maybe what was going on inside Noah’s mind.


Sam Demma (18:11):
Oh, that’s awesome. I love that. I, I want to talk to Noah now.


Bob Kline (18:17):
I can connect you. We’re still connected. He’s finishing university and he’s applying for the police. He wants to be a police officer.


Sam Demma (18:26):
Very cool. That’s awesome. Well, Bob, if you could travel back in time to the first year you were a teacher and give yourself advice based off the wisdom you’ve gained teaching over the past, however many years you’ve been teaching. What advice would you give yourself? Because there might be an educator listening who is in their first year of education right now, and they’re kind of scrambling, they’re lacking hope. They’re not sure what to do or what they signed up for. What pieces of advice could you share from an educator’s perspective?


Bob Kline (19:04):
Well honestly, Sam, I would pass on the best piece of advice that was ever passed on to me. I heard this from a teacher who retired. He was a math teacher and just an awesome guy. And in his retirement speech, he said in this line of work, you have to have fun every day to survive and on so many levels, that means so many different things. But you know, in your first year, you’re, you’re worried about the details. You’re worried about doing, doing things properly. You want the students to like you let alone teaching them the content. But honestly, a lot of times we can just let go and have fun. Some of the best lessons happen when you let go of what you had planned that day. And you’re just with the students. So, you know, like I’m in my 18th year now and you know, 18 years ago, my very first job was, was in Brampton at a really big school called Turner Fenton Secondary School. And I had hard time in that job. I was an English teacher and I was teaching basic English to grade nine. I was in grade 12, so it was tough. I couldn’t even relate to my students. And I wish, I guess that’s what I would have told myself is just have fun with those kids. I would definitely redo that if I could.


Sam Demma (20:45):
Tell me a story where you had fun, I want to amplify the feeling right now for you and hopefully in the minds of other educators that are listening, just to bring some hope back about this school situation.


Bob Kline (20:58):
Holy cow, I’m having fun right now. Ooh man. I like a lot of the fun comes from discussion and we have big life, life chats. Cool. And I mean, that is a form of fun, but it’s also a way of getting, getting to know students deeper or more deeply and, and them getting to know you, their future.


Sam Demma (21:27):
How do you start like a, a life chat? Do you just open up a discussion? What does that look like in your class?


Bob Kline (21:35):
So, so one thing that I did was I created a Google form and put question categories almost like a, a trivia game or a board game. So I just had cut glories, like friendship, family, relationships, sports fun and random pandemic. So I had a list of kind of the questions on the Google form, where we’re just basically topics and the students generated random questions that they came up with that they think would be fun to talk about. So one of the questions yesterday was what’s a food that you always crave. And so what I did was I, the Google forms is awesome because it populates a spreadsheet. So I would sit there with a spreadsheet and then the kids would pick a category almost like you’re playing a board game. And then you’d pick a random question to just toss out there.


Bob Kline (22:40):
And there’s ways that you could go into the discussion. You can have them turn and talk first to someone around them. And then everybody has a chance to say something and then kind of discuss as a whole class and say, well, what were the fun things or what was, what were the big things that you heard? You could even have them like use them as writing prompts and have students write down their thoughts again, so that everybody is thinking about the question and then have them share. So you know, it’s, it’s one of those tested in true teaching strategies to get kids to share and talk, I guess.


Sam Demma (23:17):
That’s awesome. No, thanks for sharing. I kept digging cause I knew there’d be some great information coming out and I think that’s a really cool, unique way to engage your class in a conversation right now. And Google forms is free for anyone listening. And if anyone wants to reach out to you, Bob and bounce, some more ideas around, maybe even pick your brain on that specific idea, how can they reach out to you and let you know, one that this episode inspired them and two, to get some advice from you?


Bob Kline (23:45):
Yeah. I love connecting actually. One thing Sam that I think you’re noticing about leadership teachers across Canada, as you connect with us, we all follow each other and we all like we look at each other’s Instagram and Twitter feed to get ideas, which is the best way to become a better teacher. So I particularly love Instagram. My Instagram and Twitter handle is @klinespeaks. Yeah, I have a website with the same name, www.klinespeaks.ca, which I use for just a couple of different things. I always love connecting with, with anyone really to talk about leadership and life and so on.


Sam Demma (24:11):
Awesome. Cool, Bob, thanks so much for taking some time to chat. It’s been a pleasure and I really appreciate all the energy you brought on the show.


Bob Kline (24:43):
Thanks Sam. It’s great to be with you. And I wish you all the best.


Sam Demma (24:48):
Talk to him though. You have it full interview with my good friend and colleague Bob Kline. He’s packed with ideas, packed with information and just has the biggest heart. So if you’re on the edge about reaching out, stopping on the edge, make the jump. I promise you, Bob will be someone who will impress you and turn into a lifelong friend. Anyways, hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did consider leaving a rating and review on the podcast to more educators like yourself can find it. And if you have ideas, if you have actionable inspirational stories that you’d like to share, please shoot me an email at info@samdemma.com, so we can get you on the podcast as well. Talk soon, all the best.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Bob Kline

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.

Scott Kirkness – Classroom Teacher in the Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division

Scott Kirkness, Educator
About Scott Kirkness

Scott Kirkness is an educator living in Southeastern Saskatchewan. Raised and educated in Ontario, he moved west in 2013 after teaching in the UK. Scott is married with three beautiful children and enjoys training for marathons in his spare time. He graduated with BA (History) from Laurentian University in 2010 and a B. Ed from Lakehead University in 2011.

Scott has plans to obtain a Master’s of Education in the near future. Previous to his work as a teacher, he was a construction site Superintendent for Century Group Inc, a position he obtained after starting out as a labourer. Scott is a firm believer that nothing in this life will come easy, and hard work is the only way to get what you want.

He is passionate about education, athletics, and self-improvement. Scott believes that technology can alleviate much of what ails this planet and the people on it.

Connect with Scott: Email | Linkedin

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Camp Kodiak

Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Stoughton Central School

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 (00:02):
Scott, welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about what brought you to, where you are in education now?


Scott Kirkness (00:12):
That sounds great. So my name is Scott Kirkness. I’m originally from Toronto and I grew up in Sudbury, Ontario got a teacher’s degree at Laurentian university and Lakehead university very excited to be here. Kind of how I got here. You know, it was one of those things where people, they never know what they want to be when they grow up until they’re faced with it. Right. And I had it in my head. I was going to be a paramedic. And then all of a sudden grade 10 science, wasn’t going so well for me. But grade 10 history, I had, my teacher pulled me aside and she said, boy, you know, in 30 years, I don’t think I’ve ever given a a hundred on an exam. So a what do you want to do with your life? I said, you know what? That sounds really good. So I got on the teaching express and here we are.


Sam Demma (00:54):
Speaking of Laurentian, it seems like you loved school so much. You went back there and ran events for them too.


Scott Kirkness (01:00):
I did, I did. I was the vice president of student services for a year with a student general association. It was great.


Sam Demma (01:07):
So you finish school at Laurentian and then what did the path kind of look like from there?


Scott Kirkness (01:16):
Well yeah, I graduated from Laurentian with my honors in history in 2010. So then I spent the next year at Lakehead university getting my faculty of education, my, my B ed. And that’s my first experience really in a classroom. Cause that’s when you have your practicums, right? That’s when you’re a student teacher. And my first experience was, was phenomenal. I got really lucky. I got to work at a place called Dennis Franklin Cromarty high school thunder bay, which is an all indigenous high school run by the Northern Nishnawbe education council. And they run it really different that they fly their students from remote reserves. They board them in thunder bay. And so as a result, they’re actually only at school, eight months to a year instead of 10. So their day is longer, their semester ends at Christmas instrument. Yeah. So I only got a five week placement, but my five weeks for longer than everyone else’s because my day was longer.


Scott Kirkness (02:08):
So that was an incredible experience. And then of course in the second semester I have another placement. It was at closed garden school also in thunder bay. Really enjoyed that experience as well. Nice. And then I was faced with the great crushing Ontario right now. Right? It’s, it’s seemingly impossible for new teachers to get work. And so I kind of went back to what I’d been doing on and off throughout university. I was a laborer for construction companies and about a year and a half after that, I just decided I had to throw my hat in the ring. And I went overseas. I taught in, in London, in England for about a semester. I had a five-year work visa. I was very fortunate. I have, I have family from the UK. So it was easy for me to get a visa, but you know, ultimately all my family’s here, the money isn’t quite the same. The experience is very different than what we have in Canada. I’m very grateful for it. But while I was over there in 2013, we didn’t quite have zoom, but we still had Skype. And I did an interview and I I landed in Saskatchewan and I’ve been at the same school, stout and central school here in Stoughton Saskatchewan since September, 2013.


Sam Demma (03:16):
Awesome. And did construction run in your family or was that something you just jumped into?


Scott Kirkness (03:22):
No, no, I was, I’m very fortunate, very privileged. My father worked construction, so he was able to usually get me work and I was not very grateful for it. Initially. I wanted to just kind of go to the bank of mom and dad, like all my friends, but to be honest, you know, you swing a shovel and a sledgehammer for eight hours a day or longer, you really start appreciating the going to class a little more.


Sam Demma (03:46):
Yeah, it’s true. My dad is a contractor. He was a licensed plumber. And in the summer times I would do some work with him. And I used to hate when he would ask me, can you help us with this unfinished basement? I mean, we have to, we have to move the stones to put some what do you call it? Like some pipe in the ground. And it was always a, a very physical job, so I definitely can relate to the experience. So at what point in your journey did you go back to Laurentian and do like student services and run events? There was that after the construction or before?


Scott Kirkness (04:18):
Oh, it’s before, during and after. Oh, cool. I actually graduated from high school in 2004 and I went back for a semester that was around the time that Ontario had dropped grade 13. And so they called it the year before me. It was the double cohort were twice as many people were going into university and I, I didn’t have enough money to be honest. So I went back to high school for a semester, tried to upgrade some credits, maybe get some scholarship opportunities. And while that didn’t really work out, I really didn’t need the second semester. So I was, yeah, that’s when I started, I was my first foray into construction. I was 18. And you know, a part of you thinks I really don’t want to take a whole gap year because I don’t know if I trust myself to go back once you get a taste of the money, but you know, sure enough, you find yourself freezing there in minus 40 shoveling.


Scott Kirkness (05:04):
And again, those classrooms looked mighty inviting for some people. And, you know, I, I have utmost respect for those people who choose that path and that’s what they want to do. Everybody is there’s great opportunities in it. But it wasn’t for me. I was really glad that I was able to make my dream come true and become an educator. That’s awesome. That actually puts me in 2005. I’m at Laurentian. I go through it and I was kind of one credit behind the whole way. And so I didn’t actually graduate in 2009, I needed one more credit or class from however they split it up. And so I did the vice-president of services while I was getting my last credit, because it’s a full-time job. You’re working 30, 40 hours a week.


Sam Demma (05:49):
And what was that like? Like if you have to put, but, but if an educator listening and want us to put themselves in the shoes of a event planner or students or head of student services at you know, a university.


Scott Kirkness (06:01):
Yeah. Well, I guess in a word, a learning experience, if I can make an eight, it, you know, it starts with, okay, so you have to get the frosh kits ready. Okay. Well, what do I put in the frosh kits? Well, this is what they did last year that doesn’t tell me what I’m supposed to do. You know, you’re really figuring a lot of this out and our executive director, God bless her. She’s a Saint who worked for peanuts for longer than she ever should have. Her name was Tanis logon and she was on maternity leave. So sure she kept coming in with the baby and everything, but I’m trying not to bug her too much. There’s a whole story about ordering lanyards. And I thought I got us a great deal. And I accidentally kind of screwed over a product user we’d been using for a decade and, you know, learning experience. But the best thing that came out of that was I got media training. How to deal with an interview on the phone, you know, get the questions in advance, don’t say yes to any interview right away. Think about it, things like that. Cool. Yeah.


Sam Demma (06:54):
That’s amazing. That’s so awesome. I know from speaking to buddies who go to university, they, they love events, but little, do they know the amount of work that goes into them from behind the scenes?


Scott Kirkness (07:05):
Little did I little, did I know that frosh concerts are usually paid for, with a briefcase of cash? Really? Yeah. You give the band a, you know, 25 grand in cash in a briefcase at the end of the night and their rider kits are phenomenal too. That’s fricking cool.


Sam Demma (07:18):
That’s awesome. You also did some stuff with camp Kodiak. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how that kind of shaped.


Scott Kirkness (07:26):
You as well? For sure. So camp Kodiak is, you know, one of the happiest places on earth, they are essentially a camp for children with different learning disabilities, primarily who are on the autism spectrum. It’s run for, I believe kids about eight to 18, and then they even have club Kodiak for it. You know, adults who had been part of the program which is also really cool. It’s incredibly expensive. But part of the reason it’s expensive is because they have an incredible camper to counselor ratio in my cabin, you know, it’s a three to one ratio, there was three kids to every adult and you, you can’t get that anywhere to summer camp. You know, it’s, it’s international. We had kids flying in from Russia, the Arab Emirates, Venezuela half are from Ontario, but a lot are not. Wow. And so you get a lot of experience, you know, waking up at 7:00 AM meds for some kids while other kids are getting them throughout the day, the programming is very rigid.


Scott Kirkness (08:22):
You start learning the how important routines are to a lot of the kids on the spectrum. Right. And it just teaches you compassion on a level that you wouldn’t have expected. Right? You, you read about it and patience and understanding, but until you’ve lived it, you know, the kid does not have his X-Box at camp. Right. And so his routine is already totally thrown into the woods, but you know, they, the relationships they’re able to form. And then I was able to form with them. You know, I, I only did it the one summer, but I still have campers who were in cabinet year. They were 16, 17 years old. And you know, they still reach out to me occasionally and, you know, Hey, you know, God, I’m dating myself now, but you know, they’re 21, 24 years old now all of a sudden, right. Some of them are older now than when I was, when I met them. That’s so cool. Yeah. Yeah.


Sam Demma (09:11):
And you know, speaking of international flying kids and our kids were coming all over to camp when you were in London. Yep. What was that experience like? I know you mentioned it’s very different. Give me an idea.


Scott Kirkness (09:24):
Well, here’s an idea of different. So I got off the airplane, not knowing where I was sleeping that night. Wow. Yeah. I was newly married. I got married in January. I flew over there and I love my wife very much, but we all knew that the idea of living in a hostel for a few weeks was just not something that was going to work for her. So the plan was for me to go over there and get established and she’ll come join me in the fall. And that didn’t end up happening. You know, like I said, I came to Saskatchewan, but you know, I, I thought I had this big joke. I was going to tell all the people I’m moving to England to teach the English kids how to speak English, you know, little did I know, I understand cosmopolitan metropolitan cities, but I didn’t realize just how diverse London is.


Scott Kirkness (10:10):
You know, about a third of the kids were English as a second language, maybe more. And so that was just my first thought was okay. Not every kid in my English class in England understands the English I’m speaking. And so again, the level of patience and I had a lot of hubris as a young teacher, like, all right, I got this like, look at me like, they’re going to want to learn from me. I have this figured out. I was just recently a student, you know, like every new teacher thinks. And again, it’s, it’s, you need to be patient. You need to be flexible. And the idea that every single kid in your room is going to do the same thing is just a fool’s errand.


Sam Demma (10:48):
Did you end up watching any soccer games while you were there?


Scott Kirkness (10:50):
You know what I did? I’ll try it. I’ll always try and watch the language here. But one of my first days I’m going down to a pub and I said, oh, you know, my friend is a big football fan. And he said, you got to get down to a pub. It’s all right, man, you versus man city for the premiership title, you got to go watch it. And I said, all right. So I’m in north London and I walk into a pub and I said, oh, are you gonna put the match on? And he just looks me right in the eye and says after United and F city, this is an arsenal bar.


Scott Kirkness (11:21):
Not putting the match off, dude. That’s amazing. Okay, cool. I got some culture, but I’m feeling a little homesick later in the year and I’m a Toronto boy in the Toronto maple Leafs make the playoffs for the first time, since I’m in high school and it’s 2013 and they’re on the dream season and they’re going to win it all. Well, the game start at midnight. So I come home from work. I have a nap. And then at midnight, I’m like, I’m going to watch the hockey games. And then I go to bed at 4:00 AM and wake up and go to work. So then I’m real excited to have this place called the maple leaf Tavern. And I’m excited to go watch a hockey game there. I take the subway. I go over there, bars closed at midnight. Wow. Taking this Canadian pub hockey game, maybe Burton now didn’t work out. But it, it was just, I wouldn’t trade that experience in London for the world. It was so good for me professionally and just the personal growth of, you know, living in a foreign country.


Sam Demma (12:16):
That’s awesome. Would you recommend other educators try and do the same?


Scott Kirkness (12:18):
So particularly early in your career, I had through the company I worked with, I got guaranteed supply work. They called it. So I was guaranteed four days a week, but I was a substitute teacher. So I was in different buildings all the time. And it’s, it’s almost like an apprenticeship, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re not the one making the planning and the decisions, but you’re still there doing the work. And I think that’s an important skill. And I think a lot of times new teachers really get rushed to the front. And I think that’s part of the reason there’s a big burnout.


Sam Demma (12:53):
Yeah. I couldn’t agree more, especially right now. Things are so different. Things have changed a lot. I’m curious to know what are some of the challenges you’ve been facing personally or as a school in education right now and how you’re striving to kind of overcome those things or deal with them?


Scott Kirkness (13:08):
Yeah. lots of things, right. I mean, in my personal life, I’ve had three children who are under the age of five. You know, one of them was born during the pandemic. You know, the sleep is still not quite a part of my life, but professionally it’s the same challenges. I think educators face all over the place. We’ve been fighting for a few, a few of the same things forever smaller class sizes and, you know, greater compensation. And while yes, in Canada, our teachers are taken care of, and I’m not here to complain about money. I’m quite happy with what I’m doing, but money is a factor in class sizes, right. You know, there are not standard class sizes across the countries, across the province. They vary so dramatically. And you know, in some of these small rural areas, you have three and four grades in a same class.


Scott Kirkness (14:03):
And that’s an incredible challenge. I’m fortunate and I’ve never dealt with a triple or a quad split, but every class, almost every class I’ve taught in my career has been a split class, just because of the nature of the size of my community. It’s rare to have more than 10, 12 kids in the same grade. Like I work in a K to 12 school, it’s kindergarten, grade 12, and we only have about 160 kids. So do the math. I’m not saying it’s viable for you to have a class of 10, but every educator, every educational theorist in the world would tell you, you’re going to have a better learning experience if you were to have some of the smaller classes. So that’s the big challenge. And then of course the other challenge staring us in the face is the global pandemic. You know, I got a lot of friends back east and it was hard in Ontario.


Scott Kirkness (14:52):
It really was, you know, they had such strict lockdowns and this whole thing came out of nowhere, but ultimately they were largely able to shift online that isn’t the case in rural areas. Our, our internet is just not really capable of you know, live video streaming everywhere. So the kids can do it, but it wasn’t a reality for everyone. And so I guess the greatest answer to how to overcome some of these challenges is a, the answer is more technology, right? Get the upgraded internet systems. You know, you hear the federal government talking about, you know, making high-speed internet and an essential service. You know, we kinda got a flash forward and what the future of education looks like with the pandemic. And I didn’t like all of it, but you know, as long as the technology works out and you’re not having inequity with some children not having access to it, some of it wasn’t all bad. Yeah.


Sam Demma (15:50):
Yeah. I agree. All right. Can there be more you raised a lot of great points and I’m curious to know if, when you initially started out your career as well, you had someone kind of mentoring you and guiding you like a, another educator or people that you would go to and kind of ask questions. If you weren’t sure about certain situations.


Scott Kirkness (16:08):
I was really fortunate to walk into a veteran building. You know, there was another rookie teacher on staff with me who has since moved on to Alberta. I had to add Alberta cause they didn’t want people to think she had died. Yeah. So, you know, we had some rookie conversations, but we had a lot of veterans in the building. Right. It was a matter of what do I do when this happens. And, and there’s also a lot of kind of falling off the horse. Sometimes you really do just have to screw up initially and I’m not talking about, you know, oh, well, you know, I just decided I didn’t want to read the novel in advance. And we watched the movie, you know, I, I don’t mean that, but you know, there were things I didn’t understand about how to take what’s in the curriculum and put it into the classroom.


Scott Kirkness (16:50):
And I, I made some mistakes along the way, and I’ll never forget. I have a colleague who I sure would want to remain nameless. And they had a prep period and they were sitting next door and my door was open and they heard me talk and doing my lesson. This said, so what, what class you teach in there as well? That’s great. Eight social studies. She chuckles and she says, no, it isn’t, that’s not part of it. And so, you know, she gave me the, you know, the fact that life conversation very gently about, okay, well know, I understand how you, you got X for that answer, but really it’s why, and they were able to share resources. And it’s just one of those important things you need to build comradery and culture within the room.


Sam Demma (17:35):
That that’s amazing. That’s actually a very helpful person.


Scott Kirkness (17:39):
Yeah, yeah. That could have been terrible. I mean, they could have completely thrown me under the bus, backed it over a few times, but we’re very fortunate that education, it’s not a cutthroat competitive field, a field where everybody, you know, I’m not fighting with her for a salary demand next year. Yep. So we both have the job, we’re all in this to make other people’s lives better. Right.


Sam Demma (18:02):
That’s awesome. And if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, you know, rookie Scott in your first year teaching, but then wisdom and advice and you know, experience you’ve had, what advice would you give your younger self?


Scott Kirkness (18:14):
I would undo a lot of the advice I got from unsolicited people going into education. One of the things I had a professor telling me at the faculty of education was as a young teacher, don’t smile until Christmas. They won’t, they won’t take you seriously looking at it as like what they were trying to foster an atmosphere of intimidation. And, you know, I have a loud, booming voice. I wear a suit. I stay, I stood at the front of the room. I taught really old school initially. You know, it was okay, desks in rows and we’re gonna teach like this. And I thought I was all futuristic because I was having them, you know, use Microsoft office 365, a congratulations. You’re gonna use a shared document. That’s my modern teaching. That’s it? As opposed to the idea of small group instruction, as opposed to the idea that relationship building is the most important part of this job.


Scott Kirkness (19:11):
People somewhat more salient than I said something along the lines of people will rarely remember what their teacher taught them, but they will always remember how their teacher made them feel. And people who are in a good Headspace who are happy to be there. You know, the learning happens a lot easier. I’m not saying it happens by osmosis. You can’t just be friends with them and Powell around and put on the basketball game, but you need that positive relationship. It’s the whole Maslow before bloom theory, right? If the, if their immediate needs are not being met and often those needs are for an adult relationship outside of their family, it’s real difficult to get to the higher levels of thinking.


Sam Demma (19:53):
Yeah. I agree. I think back to the teachers that have the biggest impact on me and a lot of them got to know me on a personal level, built really strong relationships. And that’s why I felt more interested in, you know, engaging in their lessons and everything they had to teach.


Scott Kirkness (20:08):
Yeah. And that’s it. It’s the old data Ms. Frizzle, right? Take chances. Make mistakes and get messy. Yeah. I remember being real proud of the fact that when I was a first year teacher, I was deducting marks for kids who didn’t underline the date on their notes. Like, why did I even care? Why am I evaluating their notes? What their notes, show me, congratulations. You know how to copy not congratulations. You thought of something and showed me something.


Sam Demma (20:34):
Yeah, I like that. That’s a good point. That’s a really good point. Scott, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. I I loved it and this was a great conversation. If another educator is listening and wants to reach


Scott Kirkness (20:47):
Out what would be the best way for them to get in touch with you and do so? The best way to get ahold of me would be to access our websites, find Stoughton central school. And you’ll find my lovely photo there. You can give, shoot me an email. It’s the best way to get ahold of me or find me on LinkedIn. I’m Scott Kirkness.


Sam Demma (21:07):
All right, Scott. Thank you so much. Keep up the great work and we’ll talk soon. I appreciate your time.


Scott Kirkness (21:11):
Thanks very much for having me. It was great to be here.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Scott Kirkness

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.

Kelly Weaver – Director of Student Activities at Iolani School & Fo under of Soulvivor808

Kelly Weaver, Director of Student Activities lolani school
About Kelly Weaver

Kelly Weaver (@NaturalRedHead) is the student activities director at Iolani School in Hawaii. When she’s not in the school building, Kelly is a certified Law of Attraction Life Purpose Coach, solopreneur, writer, speaker, wife, and mother of two beautiful daughters. For almost two decades she has taught middle and high school students in both public and private schools.

In 2014, she finally took her own advice and moved from inner-city Reading, Pennsylvania to Honolulu, Hawaii to pursue HER dreams! Let her teach you how to reach new heights in all areas of your life through her amazing book, “Living Your Own Aloha: 5 Steps to Manifesting Your Dreams” and personal coaching services.

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

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

The Law of Attraction Explained

Living Your Own Aloha: 5 Steps to Manifesting Your Dreams

The Dream Machine Tour USA

Charlie Rocket

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 (00:05):
Kelly, Aloha, welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by just introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about what brought you to where you are in education today?


Kelly Weaver (00:23):
Sure. Well, Aloha Sam. Thank you so much for this opportunity. My name is Kelly Weaver. I currently live and teach in Honolulu, Hawaii at a private school. I actually am the director of student activities, but I had taught English for 16 years and my heart and soul was at the middle school level. I actually do work at both the local and national and state level for the middle school association. And so my career started right out of high right out of college, like most educators, and this is my 23rd year.


Sam Demma (01:06):
Wow. That’s amazing. I have to give you a round of applause for that. That’s amazing. And so tell me more about, you mentioned that middle school is it’s the heart of everything you do. And what brought you to that realization? Tell me more about where that passion grew from.


Kelly Weaver (01:26):
That actually grew from my own experience as a middle school student. So I had an incredible middle school experience, which I know most people that is like an oxymoron that doesn’t happen. But my favorites teacher, the reason I became a teacher I had both in seventh and eighth grade, my school did a looping, so the teachers really got to know us developed relationships with us and it was then that I just knew when I, when I student taught, I specifically said, I really want to teach middle school because I know that that’s what I want to do. And then it was exactly where I was supposed to be. I feel like those kids are in the middle, they’re misunderstood. I had a pretty rough growing up and if it hadn’t been for my middle school teachers and that age, those teachers that were supporting me, I would not be the success that I am today. So I kind of felt like I wanted to return it to those students. And yes, they are full of energy. Some days are hard, some days are crazy, but they really wants an adults and they need someone that cares about them. And so I just committed most of my career to really learning everything that I could about that developmental age.


Sam Demma (02:39):
That’s amazing. And I want to, I want to go back to when you were that student again for a second those teachers that had a huge impact on you, what is it specifically that they did, if you can think back and remember that you think made a big impact on you when you were going through those tough times? I’m just wondering, because if another educator is listening and wondering, they can be there for their kids or be that teacher like they were for you. Yeah. I’m just curious to know what those things might’ve been.


Kelly Weaver (03:06):
I know exactly what it was, and it’s one of the things that was always my philosophy as a teacher. They don’t care how much, you know, until they know how much you care. And I was going, like I said, through a very tough time in my childhood. And if it hadn’t been for them, recognizing it and taking a moment to say, you know, some of the things going on with this, with a student outside of the classroom, let’s develop a great relationship with her. Let’s figure out what’s going on. No one would have known what was going on. And so, and I don’t think I would be where I am today without that guidance. So I really encourage people. It’s building relationships is the absolute first key. And I spent a lot of time when I was in the classroom, making sure that I spent a lot of time getting to know my students as, as people and what motivates them before I could teach them pronouns and adjectives. They just, they’re not going to care about that stuff. That’s not what they’re going to remember about you. They’re going to remember how much you cared about them.


Sam Demma (04:10):
Yeah. It’s so true. And what does that look like in the classroom? Getting to know your students? Is it just like having everyone share a story or how do you encourage students to share about themselves so that you can kind of learn some more and start building that, that, that personal relationship?


Kelly Weaver (04:26):
It starts, the minute they walk in the door, it’s a personal greeting. It’s knowing their names, getting to know their names. I can say is the absolute first thing, you know, especially, I know it’s hard with teachers. We, a lot of us teach, you know, hundreds. Literally. I remember when I was in the classroom, I had, you know, like 180 kids on my team. You got to get to know their names. You got to ask questions every day. You have to be cognizant when they come in, you know, do you see them smiling? Do they look sad? Just really talking to them and getting to know them. And one of the other really cool activities that I used to do was actually involved the parents. It was called in a million words or fewer. So one of the first things I would send out to parents was asking the parents to write a, basically an essay about their kid.


Kelly Weaver (05:10):
And they could tell me in, you know, just a few sentences or I had people write pages, but that really got me to know the kid on a level that I would not have known. And then as a team I would share, I would share that with our team. So we would really get to know. And one of my favorite stories about that was a mother who wrote in that when she was in labor, she was a professor and she was actually in labor during a final exam and she couldn’t leave. She felt like she couldn’t leave. So she watched a Palm tree swaying in the wind to concentrate on her breath. And she swears the that’s why her son has such an easygoing and loving personality. So things like that, you wouldn’t learn right about your, about your students, but really cool stories and sometimes some really good information.


Sam Demma (05:59):
That’s so cool. And did you know when you were going through school that you wanted to be in working in a school in the future and be an educator yourself, or where did that career passion stem from?


Kelly Weaver (06:12):
A million percent. I wanted to be a teacher since I probably could talk. I just loved school. I loved it. But it wasn’t until middle school that I, I loved writing and I loved reading and it wasn’t until middle school. When I met my favorite teacher, the reason that I became a teacher, Mrs. Henrik, that I realized I could combine both love for reading and writing and be a teacher and teach that to other students.


Sam Demma (06:39):
Wow. That’s awesome. And did you have people or teachers in your life direct you in that direction and say, you know, Kelly, when you grew up, you know, please get into teaching. Did you ever consider anything else or was it just a straight arrow path? Like you’re saying like high school university, you go to teacher’s college, boom, boom, boom. Get into teaching.


Kelly Weaver (07:01):
There was one time. So when I got into high school, I was interviewed for the, our we had a wonderful TV program and I was interviewed about something that I did and the teacher of that came up to me and was like, you know, you did such an amazing job and you feel so comfortable on TV. Would you like to be a news anchor for our show? And so I did do TV news, both in in high school and then in college I did for a semester. And so I was really considering communication and maybe switching. But to me, honest with you, I’m glad that I didn’t because teaching is where it was supposed to be for sure.


Sam Demma (07:42):
That’s amazing. I love to hear that. And what did the first role that you took on in school? What was it, and then tell us about, like, tell me about the other positions you’ve worked in and then also what you’re doing now.


Kelly Weaver (07:57):
Oh my goodness. So my first year was the typical first year teacher. Where, how do you survive? I actually was teaching eighth grade and ninth grade and I was teaching journalism and speech. So I had four preps as a brand new teacher to different grade levels. It was a junior high model. So it wasn’t like the teaming model that we had. I coached track. I helped with the school play. Like I remember when I got the job, right. It was what you do as a new teacher. You do everything because you’re lucky to have a job. But my student teaching actually really prepared me for those preps. You know, I didn’t realize that at the time, but my mentor was losing her mind and administration saying, this is not fair to give those poor 22 year old. And you know, it was, I’m not gonna lie.


Kelly Weaver (08:45):
I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but it was a tough year because here I am 22, these kids are not that far in age, you know, ninth grade, they’re 14 and 15. And they gave me a run for by money for sure. But it’s solidified that absolutely. This is what I was supposed to be doing. So I started out at a small school, so I grew up, I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. So that’s where my career started. And then I got pregnant with my first daughter and I transitioned to a school that was much closer to my home. And I, I took on a reading course. So I was teaching reading for a year. Then I went back into teaching eighth grade on a team level. And throughout my career, I’ve taught seventh, eighth and ninth grade. I’ve taught English, journalism, drama, speech a class called communications. And then I had a dream and I wanted to move to Hawaii and I wanted to teach here. And so I applied and I taught English for one year. And then I moved into my dream job of student activities, where I direct all of the activities from grade seven to 12. So I like to say on the director of fun.


Sam Demma (10:04):
That’s amazing. And so your dream was to move to Hawaii. Where did the rest of the dream come from to do student activities? At what point in your career did you want to get more involved and be the director of fun?


Kelly Weaver (10:17):
Well, I did not know that that position existed because on the mainland, that’s not really a thing. And maybe it is, and I apologize to anyone listening that, but it wasn’t on the east coast. Right? I did all the things that I did on top of teaching, but all I do now is focused on student leadership and activities. So it wasn’t really that I was looking for the dream job in Hawaii. I didn’t, like I said, I didn’t know existed. I was moving thinking. I was going to just teach English. And that was my passion. And that was what I thought I was wanting to do. Actually, I started to get an itch that I wanted to get out of the classroom. I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to do leadership. And so initially I started looking at becoming a middle school. I really wanted to move into the private sector because what I liked about the private sector was you could actually become a middle school director or the principal.


Kelly Weaver (11:09):
If, if public school people are watching, but you still could teach a class, you still had that realm in the, in the classroom, which I always felt as an administrator is important. You can’t lose touch with what it’s like in the trenches. So for me, I wanted another leadership position. And to be honest with you, the more I looked, I was like, it’s taking me away from the students. And that’s where my love is. So this job was perfect because it’s a leadership position, but my, my day involves kids. And that’s my focus all day, not all the politics and red tape, put the bureaucracy to the side, focus on the fun and the students.


Sam Demma (11:42):
I love it. You know, all of the educators that are tuning in potentially from Canada and some places in Ontario, they’re probably like student directors of fund student activities. Like what does this entail? It might be called something different in Canadian schools. So if you want to break it down, what do the roles and responsibilities look like for a, you know, director of student activities? Sure.


Kelly Weaver (12:07):
So our school, it’s basically student council, student government. So each class seven through 12th has their own election for president vice president, secretary and treasurer. And then we as a school community, elect what we call three pro councils, which are basically the student body presidents. There’s three of them. And then we have committees. We actually have 10 committees and they are different. They’re like spirit, big spirits, small. And all of those are very focused on something. So I’ll give you one example. We have a faculty relations committee, those students apply to be on the committee. They there’s an application process. And then we go through and vet them out. And what they focus on is strictly our faculty. So they create activities and all kinds of different things just for the faculty. So for example, right now we just welcomed a whole bunch of new teachers.


Kelly Weaver (13:01):
So they bought popcorn bags and they created this little tag that said, just popping in to say, have a great year. And we put that in all of the new teacher’s mailboxes. This will make some people very jealous listening out there, but because we are a private school and we have some funding, we actually have, what’s called one teen week, which is our teacher appreciation week. And that’s the week that my faculty relations committee really delves into. So they plan teacher dress stays like fun days. Like it might be what we call fashion. No, no day. They we’ve. We’ve done gone so far as we’ve brought massage therapists for our teachers, we do food giveaway, we have lunches. So basically it’s, what’s the kid’s imagination is the limit. And they come up with really amazing things to do, you know, in that particular committee. And that’s one committee, but I have nine others that focus on other aspects of the school. So we really make sure we reach the student body as well as our teachers and stuff.


Sam Demma (14:03):
Oh, that’s amazing. And


Kelly Weaver (14:04):
Then we do all the activities. We do, homecoming proms dances any kind of activity nights assemblies. We do it all from my office. So we really teach students the leadership skills and the qualities that they need to run events and what’s required of those so that they have those skills when they go on to college and do things like that.


Sam Demma (14:27):
That’s amazing. And is this your, this, this doesn’t sound like it’s your first year in this position? How long have you been doing school activities?


Kelly Weaver (14:35):
This is my seventh year in student activities.


Sam Demma (14:38):
What was it like on year one?


Kelly Weaver (14:40):
Oh, my gosh, year one was like my first year teaching. I remember sitting down in front of, so my, I have a partner and she actually is, what’s called daughter of the school. So when a student goes from K to 12 and graduates, they are a son or daughter of the school. So she is an alumni. So she knows the school and the culture very well. And I remember the first year I sat in front of my computer and it was the first time. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. And I mean that sincerely, I was like, I’m looking at her. Like, I don’t even know what to do. You know, with teaching, didn’t matter what school you went to, you learned the school and you learn their systems, but I knew, okay, I got to do a lesson on this.


Kelly Weaver (15:25):
This was like, what? So thankfully the person before me wrote meticulous notes and a blueprint, and I had been here you’re for one year as an English teacher. So I saw all of the activities that we did, but it was very, very overwhelming. But now my partner and I, we are a well-oiled machine. We don’t even have to like, it’s like, she knows, this is my lane. This is what I’m working on. I know this is what she’s working on. You know, things we do together, but we really are an amazing team. And then we have amazing students. It’s like, I can’t shout them out enough because if it weren’t for our students and their ideas and creativity, my job would be way harder.


Sam Demma (16:08):
Oh, that’s awesome. I love that. And you can tell that you enjoy the job. Like, even while you’re talking right now, you seem so happy and like energetic about it, which is so important. You know, putting teachers in positions that they actually love. And you’re definitely going to make teachers jealous, talking about massage therapists, bringing them in.


Kelly Weaver (16:27):
I can’t believe I lived this life. I’m just like really


Sam Demma (16:30):
Well, you know, it goes to show that you, I mean, it started in your head, right? You created it. It started in your head. You, you decided what you were going to do and Aloha now we’re here. You know?


Kelly Weaver (16:41):
Well, if I could say something to that, cause you just triggered down my next love. So I’m also in my free time, which I really don’t have free time. I’m a law of attraction coach. So I believe very much in deliberate creation. And I actually wrote a book, my first book called living your own, aloha five steps to manifesting your dreams, which is on Amazon. And it’s the method and the steps that I created to use to manifest my dream life here in Hawaii and my dream job. So I love that you said that because you’re exactly right. We have a vision, we take action toward those steps and we can really create the life that we love


Sam Demma (17:18):
Kelly, you and I are going to be best friends!!


Kelly Weaver (17:24):
Together for a reason.


Sam Demma (17:25):
Right. It has. This is so cool. And what when in your career did you write your book and what prompted the creation of it?


Kelly Weaver (17:32):
So I wrote the book it just got published in March, so it’s been out. I started the book actually finished it really during COVID. I was writing every single Sunday. I was making a point to it. What started? It was just that I just love the law of attraction. I love how it has actually, to be honest with you. I know this is not about teaching, but I had my spiritual awakening in 2009 here in Hawaii. I dislocated my ankle in the airport, coming home from a 10 year wedding anniversary trip with my husband. And it really broke me open to healing that I needed to do. Like I told you about my childhood and I wanted other people. I just, I saw so many people and teachers, especially, especially during COVID so burnt out, not feeling like they have any control in what they can create in their life.


Kelly Weaver (18:23):
And I was like, you know what? I need to share this with people, how I did it. They need to know that no matter what their life has started as, as a child or whatever they’re going through, they can, they can create this beautiful life that they want to live. And it’s what I’ve taught my students over the years. Like I use these principles with my students and I’ve helped them get into colleges and help them get more money for college. And so it’s just something that I love to pass on to people. And I thought, you know what a book is the best way. It’s the fastest way. It’s the cheapest way. Let’s get this information out.


Sam Demma (18:55):
And how do you explain the law of attraction to a teacher? So there’s an educator listening right now and maybe they’re not familiar with the concept. Can you break it down a little bit or maybe even using some of the ideas from your book?


Kelly Weaver (19:05):
Yeah. So law of attraction is just about what you put out. You get back, whether that’s good or bad, and you are a Dilbert creator, you have the ability to create your own life. So in the book I use the word Aloha this and see, this is where my teaching has paid off because my book is very much a handbook, a guide. I give you very tangible tools. That was very important to me as an educator. It’s like, I don’t want to just spell, you know, theory and rhetoric to you. I want to give you tangible what I call inspired assignments that you can actually do. And so the five-step process is a low hot ask. Listen opportunities, how, and act as if, and those are all the principles of the law of attraction that you can take. So basically you set an intention.


Kelly Weaver (19:51):
You believe, you feel that you’re going to receive it and you trust in divine timing. You don’t know, worry about how it’s going to come and you bring it into your life. That is how I got the job here. When I was initially hired here, I applied for the student activities job. I did not get it. I went home. I was convinced Sam. I was like, I told my husband, I’m like pack your bags. The guy that I met here had family and connections in Pennsylvania. We had this amazing connection. My husband’s like, I can’t believe you’re going to get this job just because you know someone at Pennsylvania, I didn’t get it. I was, I was, I was denied the job. And then I, I was so angry at the universe. God, higher power, whatever you believe in. I, I was like, that’s it.


Kelly Weaver (20:35):
I throw in the towel, I’m over this. Why is nothing happening? I had been trying to get a new job. And a week later they called me from the school and they said, we know you were looking to move into leadership. And we know you applied for this other job, but you, you amazed us at the interview. And we would love to have you as an English teacher here. And at first my husband said, we’re not moving for you to teach English. We’re not moving all those miles away. You’re teaching English now. And I said, that job is going to be mine. And guess what happened? I had the clear intention. I knew it was mine. And several months later the man that interviewed me he left, he left the island. And not only did he leave, but his assistant left. So not only was there one job now, there were two. So it works. You know, it works how it comes about and what timing. That’s what we have to let go of. But if we are, if we know and we have a sense, it will work out. And so I want to encourage educators. If there’s other things out there that you’re passionate about, that you love, like put it out there, you know, and take some action. You gotta take some steps. You can’t just sit around, but you can make it happen a hundred percent


Sam Demma (21:48):
And Aloha act as if is that for acting as if it’s already happened?


Kelly Weaver (21:52):
Yeah, this is really weird. But I write about this in the book. I literally, when I got, when I found out that the job was open again, I actually would, anytime I would pretend to answer the phone, I would say, hi, this is Kelly. Student activities would say that all the time. I envisioned myself in the, in the deck at the desk. I mean, just really put myself and my feelings into that. And I’m telling you, it worked multiple stories like that in the book of like, that’s the other thing in the book. I don’t just, this, isn’t all just theory. This is what I’ve had to go through. And what I’ve done to prove to you that, that whatever that assignment is, it works


Sam Demma (22:37):
Well. I have goosebumps because I live by the same philosophies and there’s a guy actually, who’s going to be driving through who I assume named Charlie rocket. And he has this bus called the dream machine. And he goes around in the U S and make people’s dreams come true. And I wanted to reach out to him because I speak in schools and he was doing all this work, but he wasn’t talking to students and I had this idea and this was like a year ago. Wouldn’t it be so cool. If in all the states he stops in while he’s doing amazing work, I kept like, you know, speak to the students of the schools in the local cities and spread the, you know, initiative on the ground. But the issue was, you know, he has 500,000 followers. You know, he’s super big. And it’s like, how is, how am I going to get ahold of this guy?


Sam Demma (23:18):
And so I started writing down in my notebook, Charlie and I are working together. He just doesn’t know it yet. Charlie and I are working together. He just doesn’t know it yet. And low and behold, I got so obsessed with the idea because I was acting as if it already happened. Your mind starts racing and the obsession led to some ideas. And so I realized he had his own podcast was 62 episodes. So I made a, I took two weeks to listen to all 62, made a page of notes of every single episode, stapled them together, put a cover letter on it that said, Hey, Charlie, my onboarding is done. When can we get started? Put the notes inside a custom printed box with his logo all over it. Then I interviewed his co-founder, who was more of a behind the scenes kind of guy to try and get a mailing address.


Sam Demma (23:58):
We had a phenomenal conversation at the end and he’s like, here’s the mailing address? I got the mailing address, got the box, shipped it off a week and a half, two weeks later, Charlie FaceTime me on my phone. We had a full hour and a half conversation and, you know, things didn’t work out for different reasons, but I wanted to share that story with you because I think that I manifested that into my life. The same way you’re explaining you as an educator manifested your role and the work you’re doing now. And I think it’s such an important thing to remind ourselves that we are the creators of our destinies. And at any moment we can change something we’re not happy about. So I just want to share that story as well. Real quick.


Kelly Weaver (24:36):
Yeah. I literally, they had, they called chicken skin here in Hawaii. I mean, that is a cry. Yes, you totally did. And you know what, that’s another good point. Even if something doesn’t happen at the end of it, right. You just never know what it’s going to eventually, you don’t know, like it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s over. It could, it happened to me. Like I won’t bore you with another story, but I do a radio segment here in Hawaii on Tuesdays. And I initially, you know, was asked to just do one episode and they weren’t they weren’t calling me back and they were calling me back and I like got really upset. I’m like they said, they were going to put me on. It was, you know, to help me promote my book. And then sure enough now only am I now on one episode, if through a whole other story, I’m now on the show on Tuesdays. So again, when I thought I was mad that they weren’t calling me for one thing, the universe was like, you said, you want it to be on radio. It was already working in the background for me. And it was working better than I expected. So sometimes you just want to say, okay, you know,


Sam Demma (25:40):
Yep. What if things could turn out better than you expected? That’s the question you ask yourself. Right. And, and it’s funny, like, I, I was thinking the same thing. So like what ended up happening is I had the choice to make it was to leave what I was doing now and do something very different that I wasn’t as passionate about or to continue doing the work I’m doing now. And so I ended up not going, so I didn’t want to give up something that I love here, but we still stay in touch and who knows what’s going to happen four or five years down the road. Right.


Sam Demma (26:09):
So we just keep living the Aloha lifestyle. I love it. Well, this interview is taking an amazing turn. I’m so glad we touched upon this. If you could give your younger education self one piece of advice, if you could go back 23 years and speak to Kelly, when she just started teaching, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?


Kelly Weaver (26:31):
Oh, my that’s a great question. I think it would be to not to be able to say, and I know that that maybe sounds counterintuitive, but I now live by the mantra. Does it tire or does it inspire me? And I think early on in our careers, as you know, we want it, we want to be the model teacher, which is great. We want to do all the things, but we burn ourselves out, you know, when we take away from ourselves and our own self care. And so it would just be that it’s, it’s okay to say, no, you’re not a bad person. You’re setting you’re setting boundaries because you need that. And I think it with COVID this past year, I’m hoping a lot of educators were able to do that. They were able to set those boundaries because otherwise, you know, I think that’s, you know, you just would burn out. And I see that in so many younger people, they feel obligated to say yes to everything, you know? So I would just tell myself it’s okay to say no, sometimes


Sam Demma (27:39):
Amazing love that. Awesome. And if someone’s listening to this love, the conversation wants to either buy your book, get in touch with you, ask a question, what would be the best way for them to reach out to you?


Kelly Weaver (27:50):
I do actually have a website so they could, you know, email me on there. It’s www.soulvivor808.com. And you can also just email me at soulvivor808@gmail.com as well. I’d love to connect if anyone has any questions at all.


Sam Demma (28:16):
Amazing Kelly, thank you so much again for taking some time to chat about all this on the show. Enjoy the rest of your school year and well, we’ll talk soon.


Kelly Weaver (28:25):
Aloha. Thank you, Sam.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Kelly Weaver

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.

Aubrey Patterson – 30-Year Teacher, Principal, Superintendent & Founder of Warm Demanders

Aubrey Patterson, CEO Warm Demanders
About Aubrey Patterson

Aubrey Patterson (@PattersonAubrey) spent 30 years as a teacher, principal, and superintendent in a high-performing school district. Today, he is the CEO and Founder of Warm Demanders, an educational consulting company that provides coaching and online programs. Their goal is to help leaders build a high-impact remarkable culture, provide clarity with a smile, and find the time for the things that matter most!

Aubrey works with leaders to effectively use technology to develop structures and procedures as the means to improve learning conditions for teachers and students. To this end, Aubrey has developed highly regarded systems to recapture time and provide for exceptional communications.

These systems, like the extensive induction, formative job descriptions, truly collaborative meetings, and professional learning programs for teachers and administrators, are built upon three distinct leadership stages that much like dominoes, fall in succession: simplify, clarify and amplify. For more information go to: WarmDemanders.com

Connect with Aubrey: Email | Linkedin | Website | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

The Principals Seminar

Simon Sinek’s TEDx Talk

David Allen; Getting Things Done (book)

Getting to Inbox Zero

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 (00:03):
Aubrey, welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and also sharing a little bit behind your journey? What brought you to do the work you’re doing today?


Aubrey Patterson (00:15):
Yeah. Well, that’s great to be here, Sam. Thank you for having me here today. Yeah, I’ve was a teacher and a coach and a principal and eventually a superintendent and I had like all these different roles in education and, you know, absolutely loved it. And I did that until 2017. And then after that time, I, you know, wanted to make some different dance in the universe. And so I, I started creating some, some new opportunities for people with with our educational companies. Nohea, and principal seminar were the first couple, but the main thing that, that I focus on right now is Warm Demanders that’s our, our newest company and, we help mostly school and district administrators you know, with their, with their day to day functions.


Sam Demma (01:12):
That’s awesome. Where did the, where did the passion come from or what was like the Eureka moment when you were going down the teaching path that you decided to make different dents and, and how did you kind of develop the courage to make the jump?


Aubrey Patterson (01:29):
Well it, when we go through like go through it, a teaching career, we, we always talk about growth mindset, the growth mindset ideals. And we talk about this all the time and it’s become kind of cliche, but if you really want to, you know, embrace those kinds of ideals, you have to be willing to take a, take a risk. You have to be willing to fail forward. And man, I’ve done a lot of that. And and, and honestly, I just never really had a problem with making mistakes. And I used to encourage them with the, with the people around me. So taking a leap, isn’t a, a difficult thing for me, it’s actually, you know, taking a leap and then sticking with things and trying to make that really big damp, that thing that will, that will really, you know, imprint success and, and pathways upon the people that we think we serve.


Sam Demma (02:25):
Oh, it’s amazing. I love that. And what, like, what is the principal seminar and Nohea and explain maybe the name behind the years? Cause I know it has an interesting backstory.


Aubrey Patterson (02:36):
Yeah. So my, one of my passions, like I have this deep belief that, that especially principals and also superintendents, assistant superintendents, like, like all of these people are so encumbered by all of the stuff that comes at them. Day-To-Day and it’s really unfair because everybody wants to have deep conversations with their people and everybody wants to have this amazing school culture. But they just can’t get there because there’s just so much stuff that comes at them. And a lot of that happens right at the front doors and often at the front office. So originally when I was looking to, to try, you know, help some people out, we started focusing on the school office and I spent a lot of time in, in Hawaii, especially in Maui and love a lot of the Hawaiian, the Polynesian ideals, and no Hayah is kind of like you know, everybody’s familiar with the Aloha spirit.


Aubrey Patterson (03:40):
It’s like the Aloha spirit plus leadership, like strong leadership. And, and what I really love about it is that it, it, it really allows you to be kind, and at the same time, you can be, you know, fanatically meticulous about systems and details and things like that. So it allows those, those people who, you know, like to get things done, to also be able to smile during the day. So know, Hey, I was focused on the school offices, principals seminar was, and is focused on new principals, helping new principals, but all of that has kind of evolved into our largest entity, which is warm demanders. And that’s where we have actually taken over those, those particular courses and brands and put them into this package to, to help all school and district leaders. And, and of course, warm demanders is kind of just as it sounds, we help people who, who want to be true to themselves in every part of their lives. You can be nice and be the principal. You can be kind to people and be really firm. You can, you know, be there for all the right reasons and love the kids and do all that stuff and still be very careful and with your processes and things like that. So anyway I see what you do, Sam. I just go on and on about this stuff. Once you get me started.


Sam Demma (05:09):
Hey, that’s why I brought you here today. I want you to continue speaking so warm demanders. What does the company do? Is it, is it solely providing courses consulting? Like if you had to explain it to a principal or a superintendent listening right now, how would you explain the whole organization?


Aubrey Patterson (05:30):
Yeah, so, so we, we do have multiple courses that, that we’ve released. We just opened up the doors in may. We’ve been overwhelmed with a huge, huge response with it. It’s, you know, it’s asynchronous learning at its best. And so that’s been really, really helpful, but like, that’s, that’s the courses, but we also do one-to-one coaching and that’s probably 60% of what we’re doing right now is one-to-one coaching virtually helping, helping school and district administrators you know, to, to get through all of the, the things they need to meander through in the, in these crazy times. And then we also provide these menus of you know, one stop shopping for, for schools and districts, where they can have an abundance of courses, you know, one click access for teachers or for administrators, et cetera. There’s a, there’s a lot there.


Aubrey Patterson (06:31):
So ultimately I would just kind of sum it up with everything is focused on helping people who want to be warm demander leaders. It is not focused in any way upon a traditional educational leadership where there’s a lot of hierarchy or there’s a lot of bureaucracy. I spend most of my time helping people get through the bureaucracy, get rid of the bureaucracy all of that, that kind of a thing. I’ve found a lot of success with it, both as the principal and a superintendent. And, and I like to help people, you know, with those kinds of things. And, and I honestly, it just finds that a lot of people don’t know which domino to flip over first. Right. And once we get them started, it’s, it’s just amazing. I just love it. Ultimately I, I love the one-to-one coaching the most, just love it.


Sam Demma (07:31):
I love that. That’s amazing. I want to selfishly go back to Maui and Hawaii for a second in my mind. So let me ask you, like what brought you out there and how were you exposed to these ideas of Nokia and this type of leadership?


Aubrey Patterson (07:51):
I honestly, I just got there like many people from some friends recommendations and then I stayed there longer and longer, more and more. I’ve always had an affinity to to hang out in, in Hawaii, like who doesn’t right, but like Hawaii and Southern California for whatever reason we do, I would say 70, 75% of our contacts right now are coming from the west coast. And there’s a particular vibe that really, that we really resonate with. And that I think that, that we give off in our, in our work that is, you know, with that warm and friendly part. And that part that you can be, you know, true to yourself in every, in every part of your life. And I think that’s what actually appeals to me the most about, about Hawaii, about, about many of the cultures that I, that I love is, you know, you can be the same person at home hanging out with your friends or, you know, leading a school or a school district. Like you should be able to always be comfortable in your skin. And I found that those ideals really allowed that. And and that’s where I kinda got, I don’t know, that’s where we got the vibe, that’s where we got the whole concept of, of know-how and you know, probably we would have called that first company Aloha, but, you know, that’s been used


Sam Demma (09:23):
And it didn’t go with that main stream. Right,


Aubrey Patterson (09:25):
Right.


Sam Demma (09:27):
That’s awesome. And when you were growing up, I want to, I want to go back for a second. Did you know that you wanted to get an initially into education and become a teacher superintendent and principal, or were you kind of steered down that path by other people in your life?


Aubrey Patterson (09:44):
Yes, I did. I, well, I knew that I wanted to coach my, my dad is, was an amazing teacher and basketball coach. Like he was, you know, won multiple provincial titles. He’s that, that guy that everybody loved in the community, he was a fantastic role model. And I, and I want it to be that, you know, I want it to be just like that. And at the same time I did quite well in school. I wasn’t a typical student that you know, that does well, that is, is studying a lot. And all that things came easy to me. I was just really lucky for, with that. And, and so I had a lot of people actually telling me, oh, you shouldn’t be a teacher when I wanted to be a teacher. And those people were encouraging me to go into business or to go into, you know be a lawyer, be a doctor, be these other things.


Aubrey Patterson (10:38):
And I listened to them at the start. And so my first year in university, I was in, I was in business and, and I did really well with the marks and all that. Like I loved that I was on the Dean’s list, but I hated it. And I quickly switched into education and everything felt right. And so and you know, from there, I was just really, really lucky to have fantastic role models when I was becoming a, a new teacher. And then I got to meet all these people that were like incredible leaders. And I said, huh, I think I could do that too. And I could, you know, and I keep on going and, and, and it was the same with coaching. I’d be coaching basketball. And I was around all these fantastic basketball coaches that just wanted to be better at it. And so that’s always been something for me is to, to see people that I’d like to emulate the qualities or the values that they have that I’d like to emulate, or that I’d like to, to grow. And, and, and that’s always, what’s been, been driving me.


Sam Demma (11:39):
Where does your principles come from? You mentioned earlier that failure is something you encourage and you want to fail fast and you want to fail quicker. Was that something that your dad instilled in you growing up or people in your life, or maybe a coach R where, yeah. Where did that come from? Because I feel like it’s such an important lesson, but not only high school administrators or any school administrator, that’s something that they need to embrace as well, but it’s hard to embrace. I find sometimes for all human beings.


Aubrey Patterson (12:09):
Yeah. Like I like, honestly, I, I think I, I got that. Yeah, definitely from my dad, but also from, from all of the coaches that I had when I was in, in school. You know, I was, again, really lucky to be in in some fantastic athletics programs, you know, as a player. And, and we always knew, like, for example, in baseball, you’re, you’re going to fail. If you fail 70% of the time, like you’re, you’re doing really well, like, like black junior right now is, you know, failing 680% of the time. You know, when he’s batting and he’s, he’s, you know, leading the league, like, like it’s just, it’s, it’s just part of getting better and it’s, it’s just what we have to do. And, and so I’ve always been comfortable with that concept. I know it’s become really cliche to say things like fail forward in that now, of course.


Aubrey Patterson (13:06):
But I’ve actually heard that for a long, long time. And, and I always encourage it and people, I know there’s a, there’s a guy that I hired years ago as a teacher. He came over from from a district close to us and, and he came up to me the very first day, you know, when he was kind of like an opening days thing. And he said where, what’s your number one word of advice. And I, and I had known him fairly well in the community is a great guy. And and I said, make a lot of mistakes the next time I see you, I’m going to ask you to tell me about your mistakes. And he started laughing and he said, no, really what? And I said, no, seriously, like, it didn’t make a lot of mistakes. Like I want you to make a lot of mistakes. And if, because we didn’t bring you over here to play it safe. And, and so anyway, he, he tells me all the time now that I’ve been gone for quite a while, and that when I bumped into him on the street, he’ll say, I’m still making lots of mistakes. I’m still making lots of mistakes. And so honestly, I think I was really lucky to have people encourage me to make mistakes. And I’ve just really always embraced that I’ve been comfortable with it.


Sam Demma (14:14):
Yeah, I like that. I love it a lot. And you mentioned before we even started this call, that one of the trainings you did when you were growing up was the seven, the seven habits with Stephen Covey. Where does your, your endless curiosity you continue learning come from? And do you think that’s like an important attribute of not only being an educator, but you know, someone who’s working with young people?


Aubrey Patterson (14:39):
Yeah, no, I, I, I’ve always been fascinated with how things happen, like the algorithms of how things happen. And like I love for example I think it was back in what, 2008, 2009 originally when Simon Sineck was first doing his Ted talk and talking about my why, and you know, where the, why came out in the whole, the whole thing of the golden circles and talking about apple and all of that. And that’s kind of been, become cliche for people to say, you know, what’s my why instead of saying, what’s my mission, what’s my, why I’m not against that. Please don’t get me wrong. I, I use it to what, what I’m saying is people are so focused on it that they often forget the importance of how and when, who, and where, and when we’re actually serving people, taking care of people, clarity is kindness, especially in difficult times like we’re facing right now.


Aubrey Patterson (15:34):
People really need clarity when they’re scared, when they’re nervous, they want, they’re looking for that, that step. It’s like when you jump into the deep end of the swimming pool for the first time, when you’re a little kid it’s exciting and you’re happy. And it’s like, look at me. And you’re in there about three seconds and you’re reaching for the side, you’re reaching for something solid. People want that clarity. And I think that clarity is exposed with the how, when, who, what, where, and again, I am not diminishing the why part at all, like completely believe that I love it. It’s a great starting point, but I’ve always been fascinated in the algorithm. The, if this, then that the how part, and that’s what I work with people on all the time is, and that, you know, we S we always say, we can save you anywhere from 10 to 20 hours or so 10 to 20 minutes in a day.


Aubrey Patterson (16:32):
And when we add up that amount of time, that, that adds up into like 6,000 minutes in a year, a hundred hours, you know, like and it’s really easy because we just have to go through and look at the algorithm and get really scientific with it. So going back to your original, what, you know, where did I get excited about all this kind of stuff? I was always fascinated with what led to that, you know, and in basketball, we would, we would put on a, you know, a press, a full court press. And I was always interested in, you know, what caused the turnover, you know, both as a player and as a coach. And typically it wasn’t actually the trap that on the ball that, that, you know, came that most people were focused upon. It was the, if this then that’s around it like that, that, that person had no place to pass. No, because you know, all of these other things happen. So anyway, you know, I’ve, I’ve always been fascinated by, by the how, by the way, the dominoes fall. And it just gets me to dig into things all the time. See, you just sent me down that rabbit hole. Again, I love the algorithm. Rabbit hole is my favorite. Then know,


Sam Demma (17:49):
Because you have a phenomenal mailing list, then you share algorithm type content through it all the time. And you do have like the free videos and tech tips on your website. That really helped me with the tabs that you told me to subscribe to. So like, if you had to give some quick organizational tips, things that you think need to be known and make the biggest ROI instantly what are like a couple of little things that you’d recommend people look into or educators


Aubrey Patterson (18:23):
For sure. Well, I, I love the research of David Allen who originally wrote, he wrote getting things done. And so, you know, 30, 40% of what I teach is based upon David Allen’s work or his, his original research and his, his most famous concept is the two minute rule. So if you can do something in two minutes, unless, you know, it’s rude, like, you know, you get up from a conversation or dinner and run through something and a while you’re, you’re, he should, you gotta be present with people, right. But if you can do something in two minutes, you should, because it will take you more time to file it away and bring it back. Then it would you know, just to do it in, in that two minutes. So most often, you know, we’ll, we’ll refer to email when we talk about this.


Aubrey Patterson (19:10):
So if you get something in your inbox and you take a look at it, and it’s, it’s gonna take you less than two minutes, if you can take the two minutes right now, we’ll do it. Cause it’ll take you more time to put it away and bring it back after. But that’s not only the reason that you do this with the two minute rule, because it also breaks your chain of thought in the future. It breaks your, your focus to have to go back and redo the, all these little things. And so all of these, you know, five seconds, 20 seconds, one minute here and there add up, but they don’t just add up to time. They add up in giving you an opportunity to focus better. And so my favorite or my second favorite tip is the two-minute rule. No matter what, if you can do it in less than two minutes, if you can, whether it’s email, whether it’s, you know, picking up a dish and putting it in the dishwasher, you know, whatever it is like day-to-day life or work, you know, you can do it less than two minutes, do it.


Aubrey Patterson (20:12):
This, my favorite tip is the next best action rule, which is have all of your subject lines in your email, in your things to do lists in your notes, in the posts that you write yourself, have every subject line begin with a verb with an action, and then you will always hit the ground running when you restart with that. So, for example, if I send you, if I write down on a, on a posted, you know mum’s birthday, you know, and if I just write down mom’s birthday and I come back to that a week later, I have to think, what, why did I write down mom’s birthday? Of course, I know her mom’s birthday is coming up, but am I getting her a present? Do I need to get something? Do I need to call my brother? Do I need to arrange something? Do I have to get some time off? What, why did I write down mom’s birthday? Now, the simple fact that I just wasted 20 seconds asking myself that is a problem. That’s a time problem, but I’ve also broken my train of thought on whatever else I was working on at that particular time. What if instead on that post-it I took the extra two seconds and wrote, get mom a present


Aubrey Patterson (21:29):
Order. Mom’s cake, no, start with that verb. What if I sent you an email Sam? And instead of saying podcasts in the email, but if I, instead I said reschedule podcast, because I’ve got a problem, then we can see, you know, the action that’s going with it. When we pick up that email or when we pick up that posted, or when we pick up that item in the things to do is we can, we can hit the ground running with it and we can keep our ideas flowing all the time. So what we’ve done is we’ve created an algorithm to keep her, our ideas flowing simply by using a verb at the end, in all of our emails and in all of our things to do. And we pass this gift on to other people you know, in emails and calendar invites, et cetera, by using, by using over. So that’s the next best action or what’s my next best action by mama cake? You know,


Sam Demma (22:27):
I love that. And when you do the, you mentioned that 60% of the work you do is with a one-on-one coaching. What aspect of the coaching do you enjoy the most? Like selfishly? Like what part of the journey of the teaching? Like what lessons do you enjoy sharing the most?


Aubrey Patterson (22:44):
Oh man, I’m going to sh when we get off the podcast here, I’m going to show you that what I get is I get a lot of texts. And so selfishly, because this puts a lot of fuel in my engine. I get, I get at least two or three texts a month that say something like, and I got this one, two nights ago, so I’m, I’ll show it to you after we got here, I got, I got this one from from a superintendent in California and it’s, and he just said, I got down from 25,000 emails to zero in 30 minutes because we have a system to do that right. To get to inbox, Sarah. And, and he went through one of the videos and I was coaching him on that kind of stuff. And he just said, I had the best sleep ever.


Aubrey Patterson (23:32):
Like he used just so happy. And it’s not that we should be so fanatical about inbox zero. I am. I like that because you don’t want to have your focus, be your email all the time. And that too. However, if you’re always worried about missing something or you’re wasting time going back into messages, or, you know, all of those kinds of things, which happens to a lot of great leaders, like they, this guy is a fantastic leader, but he he’s a fantastic leader at the expense of his own peace of mind. And, and this, this inbox, like he literally, he showed me, he had over 25,000 emails in his inbox, like aside from the technical problem, with that, like with this computer restarts and running through all of those multiple PowerPoints of that, that he’s got in there, right aside from that, it was driving him crazy.


Aubrey Patterson (24:23):
And, and so we worked on that last week and I referred him to one of our courses called manage chart lead easy that, that has that, that algorithm in it. And you know how to start with the two minute rule and to work through those things. Well, we start with inbox zero and he was so excited. And so selfishly, I love getting the texts that say I got to inbox zero, and I get a lot of those. And, and I just know that, that, you know, these people just feel so good about it. And I just, yeah, that’s just, that’s what I love the most is, is when somebody transfers those, those wonderful feelings, just with a nice text. Yeah.


Sam Demma (25:08):
I love that. Thanks for sharing that. I, that’s a cool story. Putting on your superintendent hat one, one more time for one quick, last question. Like if you could go back in time and give younger Aubrey advice when you were still in that role. But knowing what you know now, like what, you know, a couple of pieces of advice, would you give your younger self with the experience you have now?


Aubrey Patterson (25:33):
Yeah, no, I that’s. That’s a good one. I actually go back on that. I actually think about this a lot because I see the successes of all these people that I’m working with. And I think, oh man, am I on my best day? I didn’t do what you’re doing on in your everyday. Like, like, so I see these people doing these things. So I have a lot of, I wish I had a redo on this and this and this. And I, I did spend a lot of time in the schools and I did spend a lot of time, you know, working with principals and, and, and teachers on, on a variety of things. But if I had a, if I had a redo on it, I’d actually, I’d spend more time with the people that, that are impacting the teachers the most. And in our district that in our division, that was like the instructional coaches and the tech coaches and the people like that.


Aubrey Patterson (26:31):
Because those, those people have a lot of fantastic ideas and they often don’t have the authority or the wherewithal to, to actualize those ideas. And we did, you know, take advantage of those things a lot, but I see all of these incredible ideas that people have, and they talk to me about it now, like the people that I’m coaching, and they’ll say, I’ve got this idea, how do you think I could get this across? And, and I wish that I had spent more time. I wish I could have a bit of a redo and go back to, you know, extract more ideas to, to add, create systems that would allow the people that lead without authority. The people that you know, are a little bit nervous to get those ideas out, like just to find ways to do more of that. So yeah.


Sam Demma (27:22):
Oh, cool. I love that. Thanks for sharing. Yeah. Ideas are a really interesting thing. In fact, I was, I actually bought a book about ideas called thinker toys, and it’s like a book that encourages exercise that lead to more creativity to hopefully come up with new ideas. Yeah, that’s a really cool learning. I appreciate you sharing that. And like, we’ve had a great 30 minute conversation now it’s flown by if an educator or a superintendent and principals listening to this wants to reach out to you or get in touch, what would be the best way for them to do so?


Aubrey Patterson (27:58):
Well, I’m really easy to find because you just go to www.warmdemanders.com and I’m all over the place there. But you can also email me at aubrey@warmdemanders.com. You can find me on Twitter. Instagram, I’m easy to find. And, and just DM me, just find me. I’d love to have conversations. I never, by the way, if anybody contacts me, I never hard sell anyway, anybody I’m like, I’m always telling people what I think would be their best next action, you know, like their best lead domino. And quite often, it’s not to work with us. Like quite often, it’s like to work with one of these amazing other people that I’m working with and that too. So anyway, if somebody wants to find me and to do anything, just, just email me, www.warmdemanders.com or go to the website and click on something and just find us.


Sam Demma (28:50):
Okay. Sounds good. Awesome. Thank you so much for taking some time to chat. Keep up the great work and we’ll talk soon.


Aubrey Patterson (28:58):
Thank you, Sam.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Aubrey

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.

Christina Raso – Experiential Learning Consultant for Sudbury Catholic School Board

Christina Raso, Experiential Lead Learner SCDSB
About Christina Raso

Entrepreneur and Educator, Christina Raso (@Christina_Raso), shares her journey in education from a new teacher to a special education consultant to most recently Experiential Learning Consultant for Sudbury Catholic Schools.

The past academic year was most memorable for Christina as she temporarily returned to the classroom to support the teacher shortage. In her teaching time, she entered her class and St. David Elementary School in the Mindshare Technology School of the Future Contest earning third prize in the national contest. 

Connect with Christina: Email | Twitter | Linkedin

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

The YMCA of Northeastern Ontario

Skills Ontario & Ian Howcroft

Mindshare Technology Contest

The Transcript

**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.

Sam Demma (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the high-performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today’s guest is an entrepreneur and educator and her name is Christina Raso. She shares her journey in education from new teacher to special education consultant to most recently experiential learning consultant for Sudbury Catholic schools. The past academic year was most memorable for Christina. As she temporarily returned to the classroom to support the teacher shortage. During her teaching time, she entered her class at St. David Elementary School in the Mindshare technology school of the future contest, earning third prize in the national competition. Change is something that Christina is familiar with, especially because she also has a roots in entrepreneurship, which she talks about a little bit on this podcast as well. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this interview and I will see you on the other side…


Sam Demma (01:24):
Christina, welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about the journey that brought you to where you are today in education?


Christina Raso (01:35):
Well, first of all, thank you, Sam, for the opportunity to share my story. My name is Christina Raso and I am the experiential learning lead for Sudbury Catholic. And I guess if we talk about my journey it started a long time ago. Believe it or not, I’ve been in education for over 20 years and it was my second career. So I think it’s important to talk about where I started and having parents that were immigrants I think is really important because they value education. Not that other people don’t value education, but they really have a sense of you know, coming to a new country work ethic and the importance of going to school and having higher education. So my dream when I was younger was to own my own business and to be an entrepreneur.


Christina Raso (02:32):
And my parents said, yeah, of course, you can do about all of that, but first you need to get an education and a degree I, I received, but I had to get one. So I did that. So while I was going to university, I knew that I wanted to be a business owner. So I started selling women’s clothes at different you know, summer events and then flea markets and things like that. So it actually paid for my university. And then when I graduated with my degree, I was able to full force and I opened up for a ladies clothing store in Sudbury. And that’s kind of where things began for me in education is that I did that for over 10 years, but in that journey, I learned a lot about life skills, right. You know, working and all the challenges that go with that.


Christina Raso (03:26):
But I met a lot of young individuals and I had a lot of students that were coming for co-ops and then the teachers were giving me a little bit more of the heart to serve students, you know, the ones that were disengaged. And then it ended up that YMCA reached out to me and said, we have, you know, a group of young adults that you know, have, have quit school, but they really need some, some work experience. So I’m wondering if you can take a group and, you know, teach them how to use a cash register sales and, and work with them. So I did that. And and then, you know, I got a lot of praise and saying, you know, you’re really good at this, you know, have you ever thought of becoming a teacher because you’re really able to work with these kids and you know, teach them some things that a lot of them were able to catch on at school and things like that.


Christina Raso (04:22):
So you know, it’s just one person mentioned that, and actually I had never thought of that. And it happened that it was the day before admissions were due registration for a teacher’s college. And I put in an application and I decided that I would only apply to one school, which was, you know, an hour and a half away because I still had my business. So I figured if it was meant to be, I’d apply, I’d get in. I could do both. And lo and behold, I got accepted and I did that. And teacher’s college at that year at that time was one year. So I finished my one year and then I knew that that’s what I wanted to do. So I started to, you know, as my leases expired I closed my business down and I went into teaching full time.


Christina Raso (05:10):
And my first my first teaching assignment was a long-term assignment in a grade five class. And I did that from September to January and then a permanent position came up in the same school, but it was a special education resource teacher. And everyone says, well, you have to apply because it’s permanent. Right. And the position you’re in is not permanent. And then I felt, you know, as teacher, you get attached to your kids and I almost felt like I’m leaving these kids, but I’m still staying in the same school. I almost feel like I’m betraying them. Well, I felt that right. So you know, my colleagues convinced me saying, you know what? You have to, you know, think of yourself and your future, you’ll see the kids, you know, and things like that. So I did apply. And at that time, obviously, I didn’t know very much about special education other than what I learned in school and the little bit on life skills that I had working with some young individuals.


Christina Raso (06:08):
So I remember starting and the first day of that assignment, it would happen right after Christmas holidays. And I didn’t really even have an opportunity to say goodbye to the other students. So anyways, that all happened. And I had a father wait for me at the front of my classroom door and he wanted to meet me. So I came out and talked to me. And obviously you had heard that I was obviously a new teacher and I think he was concerned because I was taking over the class and he asked me if I’ve ever taught a student with down syndrome and I said, well, no, actually a habit. And you know, so he said to me, well, I’m going to give you a little bit of advice and tell you a little bit about my daughter who has down syndrome.


Christina Raso (06:56):
And he says, you know she’s very, very honest and she’s either going to love you or she’s not. And wow. You know, when your dad, when you have a parent that tells you that, and then, you know, you really have to perform. But anyways I stayed in that position for five years and that’s where I learned everything about teaching, because it was like a multi grade class, right. So I was teaching grade one to grade eight and it was basic literacy and numeracy skills. And it was a variety of learners. So it was students who had intellectual disabilities, but there was also some students who had a learning disability or who were a little bit behind. And, you know, the idea was for me to work with them and to get them up to a grade level or as close as possible.


Christina Raso (07:46):
So that in those five years, like I said, it really taught me almost everything. I think that I refer to back today about learning, you know, learning styles and students. And then that prepared me for my next journey, which was, I was a special education consultant for almost 13 years. So I did that for 13 years and I, and I loved it, just, you know, I felt like now, you know, I could do more, right. I had the students, I know how to work with them, but now I was at a different level. And I really, really enjoyed that. And then with all things, you know, you need to change, you know, and I most recently, so this’ll be my third year. I switched into experiential learning and as you know, experiential learning is, you know, learning by doing and reflecting and, you know, really becoming aware of maybe what careers you may want in the future with a push on the skills trades and computer science.


Christina Raso (08:50):
And actually,
I really had a, a turning point in my career, again, this well, this academic year I I’m in well, you know, and I think this happened provincially teacher shortages, right. Especially, you know, with the smaller class sizes and then, you know, with both remote and in class being offered. So when we pivoted back to online there, I think it was close to the end of March. Was it well before Easter? Anyways? we were significant short in our board of teachers. And, you know, when you’re a team player, you know, you need to do what you need to do to, to make your organization move forward. So I I talked to my supervisor and I said, you know, put me in wherever you need. I, I don’t mind going in. And so I went into a grade one, two class. So at first, at first it’s very easy to say, Hey, boss, put me in where you want, but then when you that, then you’re like, oh my gosh, what did I get myself into right now? I haven’t been in a classroom since 2007. Right. So, and I was thinking about this the other day I was using VHS videos. Oh my goodness.


Christina Raso (10:08):
Well, no, but it really puts the stress on how things were different. I left using VHS videos and now I’m now I’m teaching a virtual classroom. Right. And I haven’t been working directly with kids for, you know what, 15, 16 years. So it was a challenge, but you know, as soon as you go in, it’s like, I never left. That’s how I felt it. Right. I felt like, yeah, I have been in education this whole time. I’ve just been doing different things. I’ve been in classrooms. I just haven’t been the person that the child sees every day to talk about. And I, you know, I really missed it. And I did that for three months until they found a new teacher. I actually wanted to stay to finish the year, but I had to go back to my job. But while I was, you know, I felt like I was there three months.


Christina Raso (11:05):
And I felt that I put in you know, the things that I’m taught or what we’re taught as experiential learning leads. I put that into action. And I think that’s really important because I I’m able to do what I said we should be doing. And it works, you know, and it was great to see kids doing that. And I also had the privilege to work in a school where your administration team is very, very supportive and you know, we had also sorts of ideas and they ran with it and we did, you know, all things that would keep our students engaged. And there was also a contest that I saw that was out by Mindshare. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Mindshare technologies. Well, they have a national contest every year and this year’s theme was create a under three minute video on things that teachers do to engage students.


Christina Raso (12:07):
So I entered that with my class, but not only with my class, but with the things that we did as a school in that three months. And actually we placed one of the top three schools in Canada with title of a school of the future. So yeah, so that’s one of my proudest moments. And I also feel like that was also a turning point because I’ve been out of the classroom for so long. And then I went in and we tried all these things that we know that works. And, you know, the days that we did hands-on activities where the days that we had the most enrollment like attendance, right. You know, that when kids aren’t fully engaged, they’re going to learn they’re present. So it was great. So like one day we made bird houses and you know, the students picked up the kids at school.


Christina Raso (13:00):
And then the other thing that it’s really, really important, especially during during this time with COVID is working with your community partners. Partners are invaluable at this time. So we worked with skills Ontario, and they actually taught the students and they actually provided the free bird houses for our kids. And they taught the lesson and these kids produced, you know, put together a birdhouse. And then our school principal held a contest on decorating your bird house, according to your personal identity. And you should see the beautiful artwork from these kids. So, you know it was a great opportunity and I feel humbled and I feel that kind of goes back to full circle. Right. You know, you started in a classroom and you did all this, and then you kind of ended up back in a classroom and then it makes your perspective better. Like, I feel like when I go back to work a couple of weeks I have a new insight and you know, I feel like it’s given me more of a drive and energy to continue the work in the area of experiential.


Sam Demma (14:08):
It reminds you how impactful experiential learning is. If you take those ideas into the classroom and see such a big impact, right. It’s, it’s a great reminder. And it also reminds you that the programs that you’re bringing into the schools are having a difference and an impact when you can see it firsthand with the students. I’m curious to know where, where did your entrepreneurial drive come from at such a young age? And what were your stores called? I’m just, just curious about that real quick.


Christina Raso (14:34):
You’re going to like that. Well first of all my mom, my parents split up several years after they arrived at Canada. And so my mum was a single parent and she raised me, but she became she went to college in Canada and then opened she bought a franchise of photography franchise and I worked with her for all those years. So from, I think it was 1985 to when I graduated first degree in 1993, I worked with my mom and she had four locations as well. So I ended up, you know, pretty much managing one location and she did the other three. And then I knew that that’s what I wanted to do. And a funny thing is I, I still have a business on the side, but we can talk about that later. But my businesses were called Sono Bella, because of what they’re.


Christina Raso (15:29):
So I’m beautiful because of what I wear. So I kept that email address for my personal, so that’s what I do, but yeah, and that’s, you know we worked you know, when you’re, self-employed, you can work any 12 hours of the day you pick, right. I can nine at that time, I was trying to tell my son, right. It’s different work ethic. Right. And, you know, he’s tired after working 16 hours a week and I’m like 16 hours a year age, you know, go to school, then work, it’s still do my homework and I wasn’t tired, but you know,


Sam Demma (16:00):
That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing.


Christina Raso (16:03):
No problem.


Sam Demma (16:05):
And what are some of the programs and things that you’ve brought to your schools over the past three years that you think have made a great impact and a difference, and maybe you can even talk to some of the impact that you’ve seen or heard, you know, based on a program that you’ve brought in.


Christina Raso (16:20):
So I think one of the biggest, biggest things that I was involved with was building a community partnership, especially with skills Ontario. I think if I look back in my three years and, you know, your first year you know, when, when you’re talking about my first year, it was COVID started too. Right. So even a full year, right. I, I think I started I didn’t even start in September. I think I started in November and then COVID hit in March. Right. So that year was kind of wasted and that not wasted, but it wasn’t a normal year for someone to go into a new role and to learn the position because it was completely a different position. But the biggest thing that I got from that is working with your community partners and they have so many programs and contests that engaged kids that you can’t go wrong.


Christina Raso (17:16):
So skills, Ontario, which started contests just after the pandemic kit. And we knew that students were learning remotely. So they started these contests called skills at home, and they were challenges for kids to do. And so what I was doing was I was promoting them and it was really important that I found that educators don’t always relate that some of these activities can be integrated into the curriculum. They’re not extras or add-ons, they’re things that you can do and make it part of learning. So they had all sorts of contests and our board, we had, I think we had five students place in CA in Ontario in their contests. So I was promoting those. So the last year and a half, I was promoting those contests. And then the contests, when I was a teacher in the classroom, I was pushing it.


Christina Raso (18:22):
So I’ll give you one example. So the one contest was on wacky hair. So I had a grade one, two class, and I said you know what, we are going to have some fun. We are going to work on wacky hair. And I made it into a procedural writing assignment. So I told the students that what we’re going to do is we are going to create a wacky hairdo. So we’re going to draw it. And then we’re going to write, how do you actually do that hair style? And during that week, so I did it over a week. So on Monday, you know, I read stories about you know, wacky hair, which Stephanie’s ponytail by Robert munch. And so we really did a lot of reading and writing that related to, you know, wacky hair. And then on the Friday we made it wacky hair day.


Christina Raso (19:12):
And like I said, I was very lucky to work in a school where the administration took that idea and made the entire school have a wacky hair day. Nice. So what ended up happening specifically on that one contest was we actually placed first, second and third in Ontario in one school. So I, my personal students placed first and third and then another student in the school place. Second. So it’s just something where you embrace your partnership. And again, hands-on right. Students are working hands-on and you have to see the hairdos that these students made. So the one student that plays first, she took a root beer pop bottle and put a ponytail through it and then put a cup on a headband. So her ponytail ran into the cup. So it looked awesome.


Christina Raso (20:07):
Hopefully you can cut that part out. No worries. That’s totally fine. I can cut it out. Sorry. so anyways, that’s one thing that we really worked with was the partnership, and then they provided us the bird houses, but I think a lot of things that I’m most proud of is is bringing hands-on activities to the classroom. And a lot of things are inexpensive too, right? So some of the ideas were making a bridge with marshmallows and straws. So a lot of times we feel that, you know, we don’t have the resources to make these things hands-on, or they cost too much, but, you know, when we look around, you know, we can find things that really work and engaged kids.


Sam Demma (20:53):
Yeah. I love that. I actually interviewed Ian Howcroft on the podcast as well, the director of skills, Ontario.


Christina Raso (20:59):
Awesome. Awesome. I was going to say that would be a, another guy to to invite because definitely doing a lot of things, but I feel that contests seem to really engaged our students. Like, you know, whether, whether it’s a big prize or a small prize, but it’s just a matter of you know, saying, Hey, you know, you know, we’re whether it’s a class contest or a school contest, I think that that helps us to engage kids, you know, a little bit of competition friendly, you know, is good.


Sam Demma (21:31):
And why do you think experiential learning is so important? You know, like if teachers are like, ah, yeah, I get it. But you know, we’re really busy and we have to get through the curriculum. Like, what would you say? Like why, why is this type of learning really important for life and also future aspirations?


Christina Raso (21:49):
Yeah, there’s a lot of reasons. And I think I’d start with the first one is that learning in a classroom is learning within the four walls, but not all students do well and not all students are made to go to university or college. Right. And hands-on, hands-on opportunities open the pathways to all those, right. You can be hands-on and still go to university and still go to college and still go into the trades and still go into the world of work. And I think when I think back of my experience working as a special education resource teacher, I think as some of those students that were disengaged, right, because they were having a hard time learning to read and to write. And I think if we gave them the hands-on activities we’re still meeting the curriculum because you still have to read instructions.


Christina Raso (22:42):
You’re still doing math, especially, you know, if, if you’re building something and I think that by giving students these experiential hands-on opportunities, we’re hitting a range of learners. Right. And you know, when, you know, you think of computer science, you know, it is hands-on, it is building, you know, and I think of the students that I had that, you know, a lot of them would be going to college and university, but there was also a large portion of those students that didn’t see themselves going to college or university and, you know, they were going to the world of work, or maybe they didn’t even see themselves going to the world of work. You know, maybe they thought, you know, they’d live on a disability pension, but when we’re looking at hands on activities and, you know, thinking of baking and cooking and, you know, there’s so many opportunities for our students that give them the opportunity to feel valued and needed in our community.


Christina Raso (23:42):
And I think of, you know, you know, chef helper or prep, you know, for these kids that thinking that, you know, they would just, you know, they, some of our students who have intellectual disability, you may stay at school until 21 because there’s really nothing else for them in our community. You know, we have one, you know, we’re at Northern community, so it’s not like we have all these big partnerships with companies and organizations. So we have one community partner that takes some of our students to work, but what about the other ones? So if we invest in them and they see themselves as, yeah, I, you know, I could do this, they could still get a disability pension and they still can work part time and feel valued. You know, every pathway is valued, but you know, if we can help kids see that there’s more for them and that they’re needed, especially in the skilled trades. Right. We know that we are already experiencing a shortage. Can you imagine five, seven years from now? So we really need to convince some of these kids who don’t see themselves going to post-secondary that there’s other pathways and there’s lots that they can do.


Sam Demma (24:52):
Every path is an option. Every student learner is unique, you know? I can agree with that more you yourself out of all the positions you’ve worked what are some of your favorites or not that you could rank them per se, but what are some of the roles that, you know, really stick out in your mind as like, this was such a great experience?


Christina Raso (25:16):
Well, I, I think one of the biggest things that I did and was when I was a special education consultant I ran some summer camps. The ministry of education gives us some funding to run summer camps for students who are behind in literacy and numeracy. And one thing that they really promoted was physical activity. It’s really important for our students to, to, you know exercise daily. And how can we incorporate that with summer camp, but still make, you know, literacy and numeracy the main focus of the program. So at that time my son was taking TaeKwonDo and he was doing it for a few years and he had a really, really awesome teacher as well. And TaeKwonDo, who’s actually a full-time stuck person now. Yeah. So I got him to teach our kids and he was doing just half an hour of physical activity in the morning, but it was TaeKwonDo.


Christina Raso (26:24):
So was kicking, you know kicking punching, but, you know, individual not and teaching the importance of self control at the same time. Right. and mindfulness. And we started every morning probably for a good six years with a half an hour of TaeKwonDo and mindfulness. And we felt that the students were better prepared to learn, you know, and, and, you know, and then the research does show, right? When students do exercise every morning that they’re, they become better learners. Whether they come to school then are not awake and then they become energized because they’re doing activity. So I felt that that was something that I really took away is that exercises important. And, and when I was teaching the grade one, two class most recently, you know, now we’re sitting in front of a computer for a long, long time.


Christina Raso (27:20):
And by the way, I can not teach TaeKwonDo. I did not do that, but, you know, grade one and two we got up a lot and we did a mind break, right? We needed mind breaks. And, you know, we did, you know, two or three minutes, I would say every 45 minutes an hour would be pushing it, but we would get up and we’d have a mind break. And I, I still think that if I was going back into the classroom and it was in a physical classroom, I still would incorporate that ability to get up and move because a lot of us, you know, I mean, I found it difficult to sit in front of the computer and I’m an adult. And you imagine, you know, these are little kids, like, I think of how old they are. And we’re asking them to sit in front of a computer, right.


Christina Raso (28:07):
First, really six hours, you know a day. And we’re asking them to do that. And they, they are doing it right. Like kids have stepped up to the challenge right. Of online learning whether they want to or not. So I think that that would be the other thing is incorporating physical activity, mindfulness and mind breaks into the classroom is really important. And it goes without saying the other thing that you know, I know you’re an advocate is positive reinforcement, right. And really, really motivating our students for them to be able to see themselves something great, right. Whatever they choose, they’re going to be great in life.


Sam Demma (28:50):
It’s so true. It’s so true. It reminds me, I’m working on a, and this is classified information, so don’t share it, but I’m working on a spoken word album. So it’s like 10 spoken word poems that I’m going to turn into videos as well. And one of them is called empty backpack. And the premise is that students and all humans carry around the thoughts and opinions of other people sometimes to a fault. And it weighs them down and a parts in our lives. We have to empty our metaphorical bag of the thoughts and opinions of everyone else and stop carrying it around. And yeah, I’m excited about it. It’s a, I have a six foot bag that I’m going to be bringing to schools with me and people are going to like drop it. Yeah, that’d be cool. Anyways, going on a tangent, this has been great. So if you could go back in time, Christina, and like talk to your younger self when you were in your first year, working with young people, knowing what you know now, and based on the experiences you’ve had and the learning you’ve had, what advice would you give your younger self?


Christina Raso (29:48):
My younger self. So my younger self when I first started teaching, I’m going to go back to to being a special education resource teacher. I think knowing what I know now I would have done more of the hands-on right. So I think that I would have brought in those opportunities being able to bring in those hands-on opportunities. I could see that, you know, I had a couple of boys that were really, really disengaged. And I think, you know, if I would have given them a couple of activities or a couple of assignments to say, Hey, here here’s some blocks, or here’s some things I want you to do work on this. Can you create this or give them a problem and give them, you know, some materials to figure it out, I think, and, and to promote the skilled trades. Because I think at that time, the group of students I had were really at risk of dropping out, right. Not finishing high school, there was a good percentage of them. And I think that if I would have given them more hands-on opportunities and maybe even promoted the skill traits so that they could see themselves in those roles I think that’s what I would have done know.


Sam Demma (31:04):
That’s awesome. And coming from a European family myself, all my uncles work in the trades, my dad is a plumber by trade, such a valid, an awesome career path. I couldn’t agree with that more. Oh, it’s awesome. Thank you so much for taking your time to come on the show, share your experiences or your, your ups and downs, the learnings, the journey. If another educator is listening and they just want to reach out and have a conversation, what would be the best way for them to get in touch with you?


Christina Raso (31:30):
They can email me and I think that you started a community. So I guess my email would be there and then they could reach out or they can call me and anyway, whatever they want. And it’s definitely been truly an honor, actually, to meet you and to be on your show.


Sam Demma (31:49):
I appreciate it, Christina, thank you so much. Keep up with us and work and we’ll talk soon. Thank you.

Sam Demma (32:01):
And there you have it. Another amazing guest and amazing interview on the high-performing educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you 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.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Christina Raso

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.

Alexandra (Allie) Raper – Signature Programs, Senior Specialist at Canadian Cancer Society

Allie Raper Youth Relay For Life, Canadian Cancer Society
About Allie Raper

A quote that has inspired Allie in all her pathways and endeavours…

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”. – Aristotle

Allie believes that when we learn, we grow and when we learn what we love, we are cultivating culture and wisdom. Allie has completed an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Justice, Political Philosophy, and Law and a minor in Political Science at McMaster University where she grew a passion for working with youth. In her time at McMaster, she worked with hundreds of students on an annual basis in a range of fields varying from advocacy, student experience, and athletics.

Now as the Senior Specialist on the Relay For Life Youth Team at the Canadian Cancer Society, Allie works to inspire, empower, and instill leadership in post-secondary students on a National level. On stage, Allie brings an energy that is infectious, a passion that’s undeniable, and a smiling face gazing back at you. And as a young professional, Allie embraces new challenges while also motivating others around her to do the same and become the changemakers that each of us is”.

Relay for Life hosts 260 schools across Canada (annually), and they are always trying to grow that number too. To get involved please visit www.relayforlife.ca/youth

Connect with Allie: Email | Twitter | Linkedin | Instagram

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Candian Cancer Society

Youth Relay for Life

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 (00:03):
Allie welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by just introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about the journey that brought you into a position to working with young people today?


Allie Raper (00:16):
I definitely will. Thank you so much, Sam, for having me here today. I’m so excited to chat with you and about leadership and about relay for life and so much more that we’re going to dive into. So this is a loaded question, but for myself, it there’s a couple of different experiences that really inspired me to work with youth. But I think the one that stands out is that not too many years ago, I myself was a youth looking to get involved and to make a difference. And I think that is something that, you know, stuck with me being able to grow in leadership opportunities myself, and then being able to give that back to students as well has been a really full circle experience. And I think working with youth is so special in the sense that they can accomplish so many incredible things. And so many people unfortunately underestimate our youth, but when they put their mind to something and they’re passionate about creating change and they’re passionate about a cause what they’re able to do, the results are just incredible and so impressive. So definitely a full circle experience as to how I got to working with youth as definitely starting out as one of them. But I’ll get into a little bit more about my story. I think in some of the questions coming up.


Sam Demma (01:29):
I love that. That’s amazing. And at what age were you introduced or exposed to student leadership? Was it a high school thing for you? Like, take me back there and explain how it kind of came about for you.


Allie Raper (01:40):
So I remember even being as little as, you know, in recreational soccer teams and things like that. And my mom getting me off the field and saying, Allie, don’t boss people around on the field, or, you know, Allie, you guys are a team work together. And it’s one of those things where it has a little kid. I just always kind of loved that idea of working together and creating a team and kind of wanting to instill that sense of leadership on to other people as I, of course got older, that definitely shaped into more concrete examples. So when I was in elementary school, we had like a primary junior student council. And then I continued my involvement in high school in student council capacities. And then in university is really where my leadership journey took off. I was involved with residence life as a resident orientation advisor.


Allie Raper (02:34):
I was involved with different extracurriculars such as really for life, our student union. I was the manager at one of our student restaurants and so many more different opportunities like that. So it definitely started when I was younger, but it really, really shaped itself full circle when I was in university and came to fruition there. And I think the coolest part looking back on it as there’s a difference between being a leader and putting that hat on, you know, just to have a role or just to be in a position, but there’s a difference when you get to lead something that you are excited about. And I’ve really tried when I was in university to shape things that I was involved in into my interests. And that kind of catapulted me into the role that I am in today. Because cancer touched my life in a few different ways and it really inspired me to want to create a bigger change in leadership capacities to getting me to where we are today.


Sam Demma (03:30):
That’s amazing. And when you think back to your own educational journey, growing up, going through school, did you have teachers, educators that played a pivotal role in your development and believing in you, and maybe you can remember some of those stories or some of those individuals, and can you share something?


Allie Raper (03:48):
Of course. So I do remember my student council teacher I went to high school, might be Ontario and I had a wonderful student council advisor. And I remember being in grade 10 and a little bit nervous to take on a bigger role. I was a great liaison and didn’t know really what I wanted my role to kind of look like. And she saw something in me where I had a lot of interest in athletics. I have a lot of interest in extracurriculars and really trying to bridge that gap. And this teacher sat me down and actually together, we created a new role for student council that has been on a high school student council for 10 plus years. Now I want to say so since I’ve been out of high school and in that moment, it just kind of showed me that, wow, you know, leadership, isn’t fitting one box, it’s not checking off a few things to fit a certain mold, but it’s when someone sees something in you that they’re able to shape an opportunity together with you. And that year we were able to a lot of new things that our high school had never done before, just based on the capacity of that new role that was created. And I think the role was something along the lines of athletics communications officer, but still to this day is such a unique title in itself when you think about structures and whatnot. So pretty cool thing. And, and it was great that that teacher saw something in me that continued for years to come.


Sam Demma (05:10):
Yeah. Oh, that’s amazing. And a lot of the educators are listening to this. Sometimes they don’t even realize the impact they have. Like, you’re the perfect example of someone who was impacted as a young leader and then continue down that journey and is now doing such amazing work in the world. So for them, it’s just kind of gratifying to see it and hear it. So thanks for sharing. Yeah. And so like, tell me more about how you directly got involved with relay. So you ended university and did you know that you wanted to work for relay or how did that connection happen?


Allie Raper (05:40):
Yeah, so it kind of started when I was a little bit younger. My mum is a nurse in the ER and when I was growing up, she was always involved in different volunteer opportunities. And every year her and her coworkers would do relay for life and they would do it in the community. And I remember as a little kid, you know, going to the event with her for a couple hours and seeing people walking laps and understanding that they were fundraising for a cause, but not really understanding the bigger picture, fast forward a few years. And we had a couple of family members diagnosed with cancer. And as a little kid, I think that a lot of the time, you know, your family inevitably, it tries to shelter you from some of those serious conversations. So I knew what cancer was. I knew it was something bad and something serious when someone had it, but really didn’t know the impact that it had on someone as an individual or someone’s family and community.


Allie Raper (06:35):
So when I was in university, I saw relay for life being advertised. And I had a couple friends in first year and we were like, let’s participate. You know, it’s a great event. Let’s get involved, let’s meet some more people from the school and let’s raise money for a great cause because at the end of the day, whether indirectly or directly, we all know someone who’s been affected by cancer. And it was in that moment when I attended that event, I actually have goosebumps right now as I’m explaining this. But I went to my first event in that first year of university as a participant, I just, upon walking the laps around the track and hearing all the incredible stories of the different survivors speakers, I had this inkling that it was just something that I needed to be a bigger part of. And that same year actually I lost my grandfather to cancer.


Allie Raper (07:24):
And that was one of the first times where I was like, wow cancer really does have monumental effects that, you know, people don’t always talk about if there’s not an outlet to talk about. So that was kind of something that really inspired me to continue to be more involved. And then I was on our committee for the next couple of years. And then my final year at university, I was the head chair that led the event. And throughout those next three years, my other grandfather was also diagnosed. I had an aunt diagnosed and an uncle and a friend at university as well. So, you know, when it rains, it pours, they say, but it was definitely one of those moments where I felt like I was in the right spot at the right time and doing something that was really impacting the loved ones in my life that previously I hadn’t anticipated was going to affect me so close.


Allie Raper (08:16):
But I think that’s kind of with anything serious, you know, we all think it’s not affecting us right now. It’s not, it’s not going to, you know, we’re kind of in the clear until it happens to you. So cancer definitely has a close connection to my heart. And, and then coming out of university the gentlemen who was actually in my role previously, who worked with me as a student at McMaster kind of shoulder, tapped me upon graduation and said, Hey, Allie, you know, we’ve got some openings you should apply to work at the Canadian cancer society. And as a new grad, I’m, I’m sitting there thinking no way, I’m not qualified. I am not eligible like definitely. And a quick realization that, Nope, you, you are eligible. You are very well qualified to do this and take that jump and leap of faith and apply. And so I did, and that was just over three years ago as of last week. So it’s been three great years with the Canadian cancer society ever since.


Sam Demma (09:13):
What a story. Holy cow. Thanks for sharing.


Allie Raper (09:15):
No problem

.
Sam Demma (09:18):
So three years with the Canadian cancer society, how long running the relay program?


Allie Raper (09:24):
Yeah, so all three have been with relay on the relay for life youth team. However the difference has been I was working with high school programs up until this past June, and then since June, 2021, I’m now working with our national post-secondary program. So same concepts, just different audiences now, essentially, but the relay for life youth team for all three years.


Sam Demma (09:50):
Cool. And what is relate for people who have no idea what relay is? Maybe you can share a little bit about the impact.


Allie Raper (09:57):
Definitely. So relay is first and foremost, a fundraising event held through the Canadian cancer society. People might recognize the name from their communities from high schools, from universities and so forth. And the event is typically anywhere from six to 12 hours in a pre pandemic world. So we’ll explain a pre pandemic lens of relay first. So essentially what it is is it is an event where we come together to honor and celebrate the lives of those who’ve been affected by cancer. It’s centered around four different ceremonies. And what I love about it is that other than those four different ceremonies, every school has the ability to shape relay the way they best see fit for their school community. So the first ceremony that happens typically right at the beginning is what we call an opening ceremony. And this is where we have a cancer survivor in the community of the school or the community who comes and shares their story.


Allie Raper (10:59):
It could be a student, a staff, a parent and so forth who talks to everybody about how cancer’s impacted them shortly after that, we then go into what we call our survivor victory lap. And the idea was, this is throughout the six to 12 hours of your event. People are constantly walking the track and getting their laps in, but the survivor victory lap is the first lap of your event. So let’s imagine we are at a high school event and there’s 15 survivors. We get them yellow t-shirts to signify hope in the color of the daffodil and those 15 survivors do that first lap all by themselves while your whole school is on the sidelines, cheering them on. I can’t give it justice by just explaining it. I’m getting goosebumps again, explaining it, but it’s so powerful to see that happen. And just to see, you know, how much impact and support a school has given me survivors.


Allie Raper (11:55):
So that is the second part. Then later on in your event, probably the most signature feature of a relay is what we call the luminary ceremony. So people might otherwise know this as the white decorated paper bags, but everyone at your relay gets a luminary and they decorate on it, why they relay. So for example, mine, every year says I relay for both my grandfathers, my aunt and uncle, like I mentioned, and my friends. So that’s my personal luminary. And now picture later on lining a track with hundreds of decorated luminaries, with a little tea light in it, where later on you do a lap to a more slower song, and you’re reading the hundreds of reasons why your school is coming together and relaying it’s yeah, it’s very special and it’s, it’s incredible to really see that because no two stories are the same and, you know, we’re all connected by the same cause.


Allie Raper (12:49):
So that’s the third piece. And the last piece of the event is closing ceremonies. So what that typically looks like is a big thank you for coming to our event. And very exciting people announce what the school has raised in as their fundraising total, I’m going, it’s always great to see when schools exceed and reach their goals that they set. And then following that that’s the end of the event, but all throughout those six to 12 hours, the school can plan any form of entertainment they want to do any games, any kind of areas and so forth or different theme laps. So for example, staffer students games maybe, you know, like an arts corner maybe having a varsity sport, play a scrimmage or something like that, a talent show, the list goes on and on, and the students get to shape the whole event, which is really amazing.


Sam Demma (13:38):
That’s awesome. And how many events roughly happen per year if you keep like some stats on it?


Allie Raper (13:45):
Of course. So annually on average, you work with over 260 schools across Canada, and that we’re always trying to grow that number too. So we are working a lot more so in recent years to grow it nationally outside of Ontario. And that’s been really exciting to see other provinces and territories get really involved as well.


Sam Demma (14:03):
Awesome. And if a school is interested and wants to learn more like what would be the best way for them to do so?


Allie Raper (14:09):
So they can reach out to us via email qt relayyouth@cancer.ca so, relayyouth@cancer.ca or on our Instagram as well, which is just @youthrelay are the two easiest ways to get in touch with us.


Sam Demma (14:24):
Great. And, you know, you kind of brushed over the fact that COVID is here. So what are some of the challenges that relay has been faced with and the fundraising goals because of COVID and how are you guys striving to figure it out and still continue moving along?


Allie Raper (14:39):
Yeah. What a what a two plus years it’s been a, like, I don’t think any of us anticipated to be a miss landscape for this long, but here we are. So something I’ve been finding myself saying a lot and reflecting on has been, you know, COVID stopped and changed a lot of things, but it didn’t stop and change cancer. It didn’t stop and change leadership and it didn’t stop and change, you know, our means to be able to make a difference in an impact. Yeah. So it’s been really great to see students still rise to the occasion and just flip their mindset as to, you know, how can we still take the special parts of relay and incorporate them into a re-imagined event. So what our team did this year is we essentially took those four key parts of relay those four ceremonies and reflected on, you know, what makes relay really at its core.


Allie Raper (15:32):
How can we take those concepts and switch them into alternative methods? So this year we actually had four options for schools to choose from all across the country, depending on their restrictions. Of course, we had a restricted relay model, which was for areas who weren’t really impacted by lockdowns and didn’t have a ton of social distancing measures in place. But that was just a, yeah, it restricted relay in itself. Then we had some hybrid options as well for schools. So if they weren’t in cohorts, for example, maybe classes were taking time on their own, on their breaks to go outside and do some laps, but then you’re opening ceremonies, luminaries and so forth were all done via virtual videos that were sent out throughout the week. And then we also had a fully virtual option. So what we did in this one was we coached schools on having, you know, roughly an hour to two hour long virtual event, whether that was during school hours or after school hours, where the school’s hosted a broadcast and still had all the ceremonies and some entertainment, but just in a condensed virtual setting with the idea of going to walk in your own neighborhoods on your own time.


Allie Raper (16:42):
So it definitely was different, but something that was really cool this year, which definitely kind of inspired us, was we had a ton of new schools actually work with us this year. And it was interesting to see that because, you know, we were so nervous about asking schools to do something unknown that they’ve never done before, but schools were still so excited to take on something and seeing the resources and the options that we had outlined for them made it that much easier for them to put something into place. Yeah, so that was really, those are kind of the options.


Sam Demma (17:17):
Awesome. That’s amazing. And so for a school to get involved, do they have to pay a certain amount of money to get resources? Or how does it, what is it?


Allie Raper (17:27):
Yeah, absolutely not. So basically what it looks like is the program fully and relay in itself is student led and staff supported. And by that we mean, you know, we are giving the students and staff the tools to be successful, and we know that staff already has so much on their plates, especially in, you know, navigating to the landscape that we’re currently in, that we want students to really leverage that leadership and make relay what they want to make it. Because, you know, as a peer in high school, you’re going to be a lot more enticed to go to an event that your peers are planning as well, opposed to staff or myself planning, for example. So we actually provide schools with training resources and funding right off the bat as well. So if a school is hosting some sort of in-person or even a hybrid event in a typical year, we give schools a budget of 6% of their fundraising goal.


Allie Raper (18:24):
So it’s really nice to know that they don’t have to dip into school funds to kind of offset any event costs. And they don’t have to fundraise for the event themselves, but we want to invest in them because they’re investing in us and into the cause and into the program. So yeah, schools will set a fundraising goal and then we issue a 6% of that to them right off the bat. And then we also provide one of my favorite things actually is we provide a free leadership conference. So for high school level, we call it relay university where in a typical year, you know, we bring hundreds of people into conference centers all across the country. And they hear from survivors speakers, they network with other students and staff. They do breakouts. They go through mock ceremonies of relay and so much more, and they get a full complimentary conference day and last year to account for COVID.


Allie Raper (19:16):
We did our first ever national virtual relay university, which was really cool too. So, yeah. And then the other resource we provide to, to make things again, as easy as possible is we provide a full Google drive full of resources. So instead of having a student, you know, try to create a, to do list themselves, we’ve got a committee structure of 10 outlined or suggested roles for students to take on. They each come with a guidebook to keep them on track. They each come with resources as well. So let’s say I’m a student is a ceremonies captain for all of those ceremonies. I mentioned, we have scripts already outlined for them, and we have resources on, you know, how to have sensitive conversations and how to speak to people, living with cancer or sponsorship, for example, you know, we’ve got template letters and thank you’s that can go out to external vendors. So that way, again, students aren’t starting from scratch, but they have the resources to really then customize them and make them their own to be successful.


Sam Demma (20:15):
That’s awesome. And what keeps you motivated and inspired to continue doing this work?


Allie Raper (20:21):
I think it’s, you know, Sam, I think the easiest way to answer that is the students themselves. And when they come to me so excited to share an idea or to share a success that they had, that is why I love doing what I, what I do. You know, even the other day, I had a couple of conversations with students who did relay in high school, who have now gone on to the post-secondary level. And I was trying to see, you know, if their school, if they want to get involved through late at their school and whatnot, and they had a student text me and say, I wouldn’t miss out. I’ve already told all my friends relay was truly the highlight of my high school experience. And I want to get involved at my, at my new school. So it’s little things like that that you just kind of reflect back on.


Allie Raper (21:05):
And you’re like, you know, those conversations we had or those coaching sessions, when, you know, these students were in high school, they’ll stick with them. And the impact that they make are being able to reflect and look back and say, I ran an event that raised $80,000 at my high school. That’s not something that, you know, a lot of students can say, but for them to be able to put that on a resume and talk about that, it’s, it’s really incredible. And I think the other thing, as well as it’s rewarding, but it’s also a sensitive piece in the sense that seeing when students are able to grieve and process a loss through relay is also really special in the sense that, you know, if a school doesn’t do relay for life for having an outlet, some students, you know, maybe going through a loss in their family or in their life or undergoing a diagnosis of cancer themselves. But if they don’t have an outlet to share that with it can be really tough sometimes, but relay really unites everyone as to, you know, we’ve all been affected with, you know, one in two Canadians being affected by cancer. We truly have all been affected in our lifetimes. And when I’ve see those students kind of break out of their shell or share their personal vulnerable stories and, and be confident about that, that’s something that’s really, really special to me.


Sam Demma (22:20):
That’s awesome. This has been a phenomenal conversation, Allie, thank you so much for taking some time to chat about relay your own experience, growing up with it and what keeps you going and how schools can get involved. One more time, if anyone wants to reach out or get in touch with you, what would be the best way for them to do so?


Allie Raper (22:36):
Yeah, I’m, I’m looking forward to hopefully getting some people to reach out. So this is great. So email relayyouth@cancer.ca, that’s relayyouth@cancer.ca and Instagram @youthrelay. So @youthrelay on Instagram and either one we will reach out to you and get back to you as soon as possible. And we hope to hear from many of you.


Sam Demma (22:58):
Awesome. Thanks so much, Allie, keep up the great work and we’ll talk soon.


Allie Raper (23:01):
Awesome. Thanks so much, Sam.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Allie Raper

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.

Shonna Barth – Principal of Crescent Heights High School

Shonna Barth - Principal CHHS
About Shonna Barth

Shonna Barth (@ShonnaBarth), is the Principal at Crescent Heights High School. She is a recipient of the 2020-2021 Distinguished Leadership Award presented by the Council for School Leadership of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. She started at Cresent Heights eight years ago as a counsellor and moved into her role as vice principal after three years and is now the Principal of the school. 

She cares and works with ALL students in the school. She enjoys all aspects of the Grade 7-12 life including student leadership, drama, band productions and athletics. She coaches volleyball and is an avid supporter of other CHHS extra-curricular events. Shonna believes it takes a variety of life experiences and a village to help students grow and develop into their best potential. Student and staff wellness is a passion of hers as she continues to work to find balance and fulfillment in her own life.

Connect with Shonna: Email | Twitter | Linkedin

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Council for School Leadership

Alberta Teachers’ Association

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 (00:02):
Shonna, welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit behind your journey that brought you to where you are today?


Shonna Barth (00:13):
Awesome. Well, thanks for having me. I am the principal of Crescent Heights High School and medicine hat Alberta. I have worked in kind of all levels of education. I spent a good chunk of the first part of my career in elementary, mainly grade six, and I really found with grade six. So you had that real opportunity to build student leaders at that age. They’re the oldest kids in the school, and they’re just really keen on giving back to the community and being part of the school as a whole. So I often led the student leadership with, through the schools and just try to really branch out with student experience to not just in the classroom. How can we impact their lives beyond that and how can we help them impact the world beyond that as well? So that’s been a passion of mine, right from probably about the third or fourth year when I started teaching before too long, I moved into the role of part-time counselor.


Shonna Barth (01:02):
So I was half-time teacher part-time school counselor, not a, I don’t have a mental health background per se, but just, I always told the kids, I’m an adult that gets along with kids. Well, and so through that platform, I was able to really get to know what some of the real concerns kids were going through. You have more time to sit and talk with kids and chat about what’s going on in their lives. And then from that, we could work with the student council kids to, okay, we’ve got a lot of kids going through this. What could we do to try to support those students? Although I still put a lot of time into my classroom and my teaching that side of my career started to really feel like a passion for me. So I spent about five or six years as a school counsellor.


Shonna Barth (01:41):
And then I moved into what we call mental health capacity building, project program in Alberta. So we had three for three years. We worked in the schools to try to work in the universal side of supporting our students and families. So we would go into classrooms with programs. We would work in small groups on things that were going on, and that was funded by Alberta health. Recognizing that teachers don’t go to school in order to be able to work with a lot of these things. We don’t get taught a lot of that. So we were building capacity within the teachers to support their students through some of these challenging times, the administrators, the families we’d offer family nights. So I was really immersed then in that whole world of mental health, then resiliency and building grit. So that has been an excellent resource for me moving into high school. I moved into that after that, with working with the grade nine through 12 counseling and teenagers are a whole different breed and, you know, just as exciting if not even more. So I think grade six and then I’ve been in administration the last about five years, I guess, and just moved into being a principal this year.


Sam Demma (02:43):
Awesome. And did you know, like from a young age that you wanted to get into education and teaching, or like what kind of steered you in that specific path?


Shonna Barth (02:51):
Well, my whole family, pretty much your teachers. My father was an administrator, my aunt uncle. So I actually didn’t want to be a teacher cause I was determined to do my own thing and make my own mark on the world, but it was fairly early. Obviously I wanted to work with people and that I am on that side of the spectrum of working with things. So I had at one point really wanted to be a social worker. And my mum was worried about my, my soft heart in that world. Cause that’s a real challenging world at times. And I big props to anybody who is doing that work has that is a, it’s a challenging area, but man, you can really make a difference. But once you got into education, I realized that that side of me could also come out through my teaching as well. Once I did my first round of student teaching, I was hooked when I got to know those kids. And there’s no looking back after that.


Sam Demma (03:39):
That’s awesome. And you mentioned at the beginning of your response that you thought grade six is like the perfect age to start introducing students to student leadership. Like what does that look like in grade six? Is it getting students involved and engaged in planning events? Yeah, like take me back there for a minute and kind of explain what that looked like or why you thought student leadership was so important to introduce at that age.


Shonna Barth (04:01):
Yeah. So in our curriculum, a big part of grade six, social studies is about government. So there’s kind of a natural fit to start forming some sort of student government. I was always reluctant though to do the whole voting thing. Like I know there’s some value in learning of that, but I also know there’s value in rejection and how bad that can feel to be begins a popularity thing. So my philosophy has always anybody who wants to get involved, come on, we just called it leadership. And yeah, it was a lot of planning, looking at the fun events in the school and the extra activities and really started with that part of it. Cause to me, that kind of gave them the hook with the other kids in the school. It also gave me a hook with the other kids in school. I never had to deal with discipline because kids knew I was the lady who planned the fun stuff.


Shonna Barth (04:42):
So they don’t want us to get in trouble with her. And then we kind of branched out as I got to see how these kids had influence in the school and really started to work with them on how can you use that, that for good, rather than for evil, because you don’t want these kids thinking they’re a big deal and bullying the grade fours because they’re in grade six leadership and taking a look at those kids who maybe didn’t have a buddy to sit with or that sort of thing, like really encouraging get some of them aren’t at that maturity to be able to think outside themselves. But there definitely was ones that good. So we kind of balanced it out between planning Western days and school, spirit days with also, okay. We’ve noticed a lot of kids like really kind of on their own, what can we do to help those kids?


Shonna Barth (05:24):
So try to balance that they were lunch hour meetings. We also rounded once I moved to a more of a six to eight school, we ran a leadership class. And so within that class, the students chose to come to that. So we could go in a little bit deeper about what it looks like to be a leader, looked at traditional leaders in our community as well as throughout history and just try to pull out some aspects of things they were doing. So just tried to really branch out on the interests that they already had past planning, school dances and fun days.


Sam Demma (05:54):
I love that. It’s amazing. And when did volleyball come into the picture? I know you also coached now. And did you play when you were younger or where’d that passion?


Shonna Barth (06:02):
I did. And that I told this story a few times, I guess, but I went to a smaller high school where my dad was a principal and I tried it on grade seven and I didn’t make the team, which if your dad’s a principal, you gotta be pretty bad not to make the team in grade eight. They brought me on as a manager, cause I think they felt sorry for me that I still kept coming out and trying. And I would go to camps in the summer and I kept working and I’ve made the team of grade nine. And by grade 12, I was the captain of the team and never have I ever received an MVP trophy. But through my, my years of volleyball and different sports, I played most improved or more sportsmanlike. And I tell it to these young kids that I coach a lot that a lot of the real rock star volleyball players that I played with, they’re not playing anymore.


Shonna Barth (06:47):
As soon as they came up against somebody that maybe was as good as them better, they got frustrated and they were done. I had always been in it because I love the game. I liked being part of a team. I like part of that atmosphere. So once I got out of university, I knew I wanted to provide that opportunity for other students. So the first, probably five or six years, I coached a team of the kids. Who’d been cut from other teams. So we would just form a team, our own little team and so that they still get to play and we’d go into the league and we didn’t win a whole lot, but the kids were just so happy to be there. Mandy of them still played right through, up till about grade 11. And now we’re playing as young adults and I’ve ran into them because I still play in the ladies league, not at tier one or anything anymore, but I still play and I’ll run into those kids and they quite regularly say like, thank you for providing that opportunity. So I, the reason I stay with it now, as much as it’s a little bit overwhelming time commitment wise is that’s where I really get to connect with kids. You don’t get to, you don’t have too many kids coming back to a school going, oh, I remember when you were my principal. Like, it’s more about the coaching and the times that we get to spend with them, then.


Sam Demma (07:55):
That’s amazing. And you know, it’s cool because you are a student who tried really hard and didn’t make the team. And I’m in a situation you’re probably in yourself is, you know, you have to bring on some kids and turn down others. How do you do that effectively? Like how do you know, how did it, how did, how did the other coach do that for you when you were in growing up and maybe your dad helped a lot there? Cause he was the principal. And, and how do you do that now? Just to make sure students still feel motivated like you were to keep trying.


Shonna Barth (08:22):
We we added another team here again this year, once we got to the cat. So we try to find as many adults as possible. There was a few that just, unfortunately there’s just not enough gym time and not enough coaches to enable everybody. We try to be as respectful as possible. We don’t post a list where somebody has to read it at eight in the morning and deal with rejection all day at school, you get a letter at the end of the day and you’d take it home. And we would list all the other things that are going on in the school that we encourage them to try out. So that we’re hopefully that if volleyball, wasn’t their thing, we have a really strong drama program. We have a cross-country program, things that there aren’t as many cuts having to be made. So we try to encourage them, okay, this wasn’t your thing, but that’s all right. Try something different. And on student council here too, we’re always like, Hey, come join us. You can still be part of things. So a lot of times when kids come and they don’t have the skills, you’re not necessarily coming because they love volleyball. They don’t necessarily even know volleyball. They just really want to be part of something and be part of a team.


Sam Demma (09:18):
And you mentioned that students, some of their fondest memories are with extra curricular activities and you know, that’s, that’s how you really get to connect with kids. Like, do you think it has a huge impact on students and like, have you seen the impact be realized like you have students come back and say like, oh, the volleyball team made a big difference. And were there any stories that may have been like very impactful that stick out to you and maybe even to the point where you could change the student’s name, if it’s something really serious?


Shonna Barth (09:44):
Yeah. Well, I am a for more, I guess the teaching has so much more one-on-one impact than you do as a principal in that sense. So I reflect back on that era, maybe a little more. So through that grade six era, like we would go for outdoor ed trips where we’d stay for two or three nights out at camp and be together, we’d go to Calgary and go to the Calgary science center. So you’re sitting on a bus, you’re walking around the science center with kids. You’re walking around the zoo with kids. We did a lot of just, oh, I used to have science sleepovers where the kids would stay overnight in the school. And we do science experiments and they get to have races up and down the hallway. And just like lot of work on my part, like I was tired, but the bucket feeling you get as an adult from that.


Shonna Barth (10:25):
So what I’ve found now that I’m able to go out places where you can have adult beverages and things like that. And you run into students that you have taught at those ages. They come sit down and they had me a beverage and that like, they want to talk about, remember when we were walking on that hike and elk water, and we were talking about blah, blah, blah, like, and they can remember almost word for word in their mind what they felt. I said, I can barely remember the conversation. I can almost always remember the student, but those are the times you really get to have those real conversations with kids and they get to have a glimpse of you as a human. And you get to see them as a human as well. And I can count how many cards I’ve been sent over the years or kids who’ve stopped to have those conversations.


Shonna Barth (11:08):
Just about things that we talked about, the difference I made in their life. I’m like, wow, like you were such an easy kid. I never really felt like I was doing anything super impactful for you. Or on the flip side, sometimes the really challenging kids I’ll see them a year or two later. And they act like they’ve never met me before. And I do think some of that is they don’t want to remember who they were at that point in their life. And you’re kind of a reminder of that. We still kind of hope that some of the conversations you had maybe had some impact, you’re not going to affect every kid for sure. But yeah, I think this one young lady who I, I, I should move down for grade four, five and six on charter all three years. So I had got to know her very well.


Shonna Barth (11:49):
And then I remarried her again in grade 10. At that point, she was kind of going sideways in life, just making some bad choices and we just run into each other somewhere. I did not recognize her because she was pretty changed the makeup and the hair. And didn’t look quite as innocent as she did in grade six. And she just came over and talked and we talked for about an hour and I’ve heard from message from her about three years later about that, that conversation was that I’ve changed time for her. It just reminded her who she used to be, where she wanted to go. And she couldn’t. I asked her if she had any like specific thing that I said and said she couldn’t remember, but just having that conversation and that connection with the person that she was and where she wanted to go. And just that summer, I didn’t just walk away and ignore that. I spent some time with her time for a lot of these kids is, is a huge value. And it’s not always easy if you have 32 kids in your class to be able to have those one-on-one. So if you’re not able to do some of the extracurricular, you miss out on those really cool opportunities. Yeah.


Sam Demma (12:50):
Yeah. It’s so true. I even think back to my own high school experience and I play on the soccer team cause I was a big soccer player. And I remember building not only deeper relationships with the coaches of the team, but also the teammates I find that you don’t, unless you proactively schedule time with the friends in your class to hang out, you don’t really have another opportunity during class to build super deep relationships. Because if you talk, the teacher starts yelling at you and it’s like stop talking, I’m teaching, you know? And the soccer field enabled that as well. So I ended up building relationships with so many other students which is why looking back. I wish I got way more involved in high school. I was just way too focused on soccer that I didn’t really join anything except for the soccer team. And it’s like one of my regrets when I talk to students now and encourage them to get involved. But what are some of the, like, education has changed a lot in the past two years, it’s been a lot of challenges. What do you think some of the challenges are that your school and yourself as a principal are currently faced with? And then how are you trying to overcome those things?


Shonna Barth (13:52):
I think, I guess from a personal part I’ve really pride myself a year and a half, two years ago that even with 1300 kids in the student school, somebody walked down the hall that wasn’t part of our school. I would recognize that. And now with the masks, it’s just, it feels like we’re so much more anonymous. Like kids, I normally smile everybody that walks by, they can’t tell if you’re smiling and like, we’re just losing that personal connection. And I worry about that because for some kids that just those little conversations in the hall might be the only time they talk to an adult during that day, like on a one-on-one sort of thing. Definitely the loss of some of those extracurricular this last year has been really concerning. Like they we’ve had kids not come back. Finding jobs has been really important part of high school because for some of them they’re the sole breadwinner in their home.


Shonna Barth (14:43):
So they’re, excuse me, they’re not going to leave their job and come back and play soccer or volleyball or join the band cause their family needs them. So it’s become kind of a place right now of just come get your education because that’s what you have to do. And then go back to your real life. So we don’t have the pep rallies. We don’t have this th the school assemblies everything’s done over zoom. And I do think that depersonalizes us. It’s also on the positive side, it’s encouraged us to be creative and try to find some new ways to connect with kids. I think some students, when we were online, being able to talk one-on-one with their teacher over screen was a little less intimidating than having to put your hand up in class and potentially say something down with your teacher can only hear you when you can only hear them.


Shonna Barth (15:31):
It’s it allows for some really positive relationships, but I do worry just about the students’ physical health, their emotional health. It’s been a lot of sitting in front of screens these last two years, and that becomes very easy to do. It’s when you’re a teenager, especially there are junior high kids who struggle a bit with anxiety to start with staying at home can feel really comfortable and safe, but then learning how to push through that and learning how to deal with difficult kids is, is unfortunately, this is a skill that we need, like adults, don’t all of a sudden become nice. When you turn 18, 19, you’re still gonna have difficult coworkers or difficult bosses. And so I think we’re missing out on some of those skills as well, that would benefit them in the work world.


Sam Demma (16:15):
And like what I know this has been ongoing for two years. What, what are some programs or things that you did in the past year that were successful despite the challenges or things that the school adjusted or that the teachers might’ve tried that worked out kind of well.


Shonna Barth (16:32):
Oh, we still through our school student council still been trying to organize some sort of spirit day. Sometimes it’s like, even when we were at home, like dress up and we’ll take pictures of you over zoom, like we’ve tried to encourage that sort of thing at home. We really tried to keep up with our any sort of justice projects that we can to make sure that the kids aren’t getting so insulated into their own world, that they’re forgetting what’s going on in the world. So within our English and social programs, they do a lot of work in, in those areas. We still managed to pull off a musical at the hand of last year. Our she was just amazing, like they’d practice over zoom, which of course is delayed and backwards trying to do dance. Like the creativity that they have come up with has been just incredible.


Shonna Barth (17:15):
So the last two days of June parents were able to come in and watch a performance. So those grade twelves who’ve been part of musical theater since grade seven, got to still have their, their audience, which meant a lot to them. We still ran some sports in the fall and the winter when we were in the real lockdown, not so much, but we just kept it to more of an intramural type things. We didn’t go play schools from other places, but we took more kids. So we had a guy coach guy seven last year, we had like 30 grade seven kids that came out. We just broke them into teams and they played against each other where in the past, we would’ve broke back down to only 12 students. So we had 30 students that, you know, maybe the only time in their life, we’re part of a team and got to have the shirt and take home the shirts and that sort of thing.


Shonna Barth (17:59):
So just really trying to keep things as normal as possible. We did manage to pull off a graduation both years. First year was very, I felt very personal and we had a lot of positive feedback from that group of parents took us about three days to get through it. But each parent and students and their parents and family come up on the stage, the parents handed the diploma to the student. We stood in the back and clap for them to pictures. So the parent didn’t have to sit through 200 other kids getting their diploma was very personal. We had a couple of photo booth set up and then this year was more of a traditional one in our, one of our larger convention centers, which I know the parents and kids appreciated my, the kids appreciate it because they got to have their peers with them. But it last year definitely was very, it was kinda heartwarming. Cause we, we got to those kids that really had a tough time getting to that diploma and worked their butt off together. We could really celebrate that student heart and cheer and congratulate them and made it really personal. So those are some good things have come out of this.


Sam Demma (18:57):
Yeah, I agree. I think with every adversity, there’s an equal opportunity somewhere. It’s got to be creative to find it and figure it out. What keeps you hopeful? Like what, what do you think inspires you to continue doing this work with a big smile on your face and show up every day and lead others and coach and try and make an impact in these young people’s lives?


Shonna Barth (19:18):
Definitely from the, I picked the hardship of missing my first seven days as a principal cause I was home with COVID and not being able to see people face-to-face and having to do it all over zoom or just join into assemblies, made me appreciate the energy of the kids, the resiliency of the kids. They continually amazes me. Like we really thought coming back to school this fall with mass mandate being implemented again, we had thought when we left in June, we’re kind of done with all this and we’re going to be more back to normal. And we’re really our numbers are really high mess. Not right now. We thought the kids were we’re going to be fighting with the kids and they’ve been amazing. They’ve just, I just continue to remind you why you’re doing what they’re doing. You’re doing, they’re so positive.


Shonna Barth (20:01):
And they are sometimes they’re teenagers and they’re going to grumble about things. But honestly I find the adults gumball more than the kids do. So I just, I think being able to watch those kids walk across the stage, being in a seven to 12 school where we get to Washington through their junior high axed and struggles. And then by the time they come to grade 12 and I know every one of those kids walking across the stage and like this time, we’re like, oh man, I wish I could give you a hug. Like, you know what so many of them have been through. So I think being able to watch the growth and how they learned to be grateful, even by the end of grade 12, not always grateful and grade eight, but by the time they hit grade 12, like know to just recognize what everybody in the school is doing for them of that.


Sam Demma (20:42):
I love it. And there’s a lot of younger educators listening to this podcast as well, who might be just getting into education. And I think there’s a lot of value in sharing your experiences and also your mistakes. You know, like when I talked to high school, because when I talked to high school students, I say like one of the mistakes I made was not getting involved enough and I can reflect on that and encourage students to get more involved as an educator and like a, you know, a teacher. Do you have any mistakes that you’ve made or actually learning opportunities that you’ve experienced that you think are worth sharing with other educators that are listening?


Shonna Barth (21:14):
Yeah. I think for new educators, a couple of things that I would stress is get involved. Like I’m not going to say this one mistake, cause I definitely I’ve been involved. I’ve been doing things my whole career. It is a balance though, of your personal wellness and the students. I worry sometimes now where we’re putting our personal wellness. So high up on the scale that we’re missing out on opportunities that would make us feel better. I think we don’t necessarily recognize that. Yes, physically. I was tired Saturday night when I walked home at 7, 7 30 at night after coaching all day, but just sit and reflect on how the kids improved throughout the day, playing volleyball and their excitement and their cheering, that bucket feeling kind of stuff really can. It makes you feel really good too. So I guess that’s been a vice like mistake can be thinking that putting time in equates to being tired, you gotta put your time in the right places.


Shonna Barth (22:10):
I know when I first started, I was, I’m not artistic, but I put insane amount of time into my bulletin boards in my classrooms. Like every month I’d completely change the theme of the room where I spend five hours on a Sunday, making a game of some sort for the kids to play that would take them about three minutes to play. They would never appreciate it as much as I felt they should, because I knew how much time I had put in to making that thing. I thought they should be bowing to me and saying like, you’re just the greatest teacher ever. They don’t value that stuff as much as they value the one-on-one the time you spend with them. So a beginning teacher having that Pinterest perfect classroom might make you feel good. Your kids don’t really value that as much. You know, they don’t want to come in and see a bare walls or a total disaster either. But thinking about where you spend your time, like time spent with kids will always pay off. Always time, spent marking all that stuff has to happen. But if you can find ways to make that less in your life and time one-on-one connecting with kids, you’ll have a great career.


Sam Demma (23:15):
I love that. That’s awesome. That’s amazing advice. Well, Shauna, thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been a great conversation. If another educator is listening and wants to reach out, ask you a question, bounce, some ideas around what would be the best way for them to get in touch with you.


Shonna Barth (23:31):
Probably email. And I would love that. I really love exchanging ideas. People always tell me I’m a creative person, but I’m an idea stealer. I like to take stuff from people and adapt it from where it’s at and I’m more than willing to share that we’ve done as well. So my email address is Shonna.Barth@sd76.abb.ca. I think what you’re doing is great here, Sam. I really appreciate it. I think we need more people spreading the positive things that are happening in education and sharing ideas. So I really appreciate you taking the time to be doing this.


Sam Demma (24:07):
Pleasure, and it’s been great chatting with you. Keep up the great work and we’ll talk soon.


Shonna Barth (24:12):
Sounds great.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Shonna Barth

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.

Dulcie Belchior-Demedeiros – Principal of Student Success at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Dulcie Belchior
About Dulcie Belchior-Demedeiros

Dulcie Belchior (@MsDBelchior) has been in education for the past 20 years. She is currently the Principal of Student Success, Learning to 18 and Secondary Program at the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board where she is able to share her passion for instructional leadership, teacher development and student success. Wife, mother, educator, and bookworm!

Connect with Dulcie: Email | Linkedin | Twitter

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Specialist High Skills Major Programs

Principal’s Qualification Courses

The Edwin Platform

Bee-Bot Programmable Robot

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 (00:02):
Dulcie, welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit behind what brought you to where you are in education today?


Dulcie Belchior (00:14):
Sure. Thank you for having me, Sam. So my name is Dulcie Belchior. I’m currently the principal of student success learning to 18 and secondary program at Dufferin-Peel Catholic district school board. And how I got here. Wow. That’s very complicated. I think sometimes when you talk to teachers in terms of how they, you know, they decide on their vocation, it’s kind of a twisty, twisty, turny path, and there’s so many different things that happened in their life that, you know, make them reflect on the fact that, you know, you know, I can, I can do this type of job. I can work with kids. I can be a teacher and for me, I think it, it did start early. And I think if you ask a lot of teachers and starts early, when you’re a small child, when I was four years old going into JK, I grew up in a family that spoke Portuguese.


Dulcie Belchior (01:16):
So I went to school, basically. I was born in Canada. I was born in Toronto, but I only spoke Portuguese. So I basically entered school as an ELL student. And what happened from there is I did, was able to learn the English language quickly. And so in JK, I became a mentor for the other ELL students by the end of the year, trying to teach them to speaking with, Hey, you say this, do this. This is how you say that. So I think I remember that experience even though I was very young because I think it was very important to how I became a teacher. And so it started very early there, I think in elementary school too. I was that student that kids could go to for help. So if you didn’t want to go, you know, some kids don’t want to ask the teacher, they want to ask a friend or student.


Dulcie Belchior (02:11):
So I was that kind of go-to student, but they knew that if you went to Dulcey, you weren’t going to get the answer. That’s not what you went to Dawson. I was like, I’m not going to give you the answer. I will show you how to do this. For me. That’s very important. I think as a teacher, as a person, you know, that old saying where if you teach a person to fish, you know, they will be able to survive their entire life. You don’t just give them a fish. And so even in elementary school, I, I would show them how to do it. This is how you do the math problem, for example. And I think that was, you know, that helped them more than just giving them an answer and them walking away. So I think that’s another as to, you know, my reflection as, so I can be a teacher.


Dulcie Belchior (03:03):
I, I think that’s a good vocation for me in grade seven and eight, I helped in the JK class, you know, yours do that volunteer work in, in junior kindergarten class. When I was in university, I took a bachelor of science. But throughout university, I, you know, I was able to be lucky enough to teach international language program. So I taught elementary school kids, Portuguese. So I was doing that, not as a teacher, but as a late person, teaching them the language working for Dufferin-Peel at the time. And and I am a student of deaf from as well. I know a lot of teachers go back to the board that they were a student at and that’s the same with me. So I’m a different field graduate and very proud of that. And also in university at that time, they still had emergency supply teachers.


Dulcie Belchior (03:53):
So I was doing that throughout university, even though I was taking my bachelor of science. And after graduating with a bachelor of science, then you decide, okay, well, what can I do with the bachelor of science? What, or where am I going to go? So I had my eyes set on probably maybe pharmacy. I did work at shopper’s drug Mart in the pharmacy as an assistant pharmacy assistant for my whole entire high school career in university career. So again, you know, you’re doing something, you know, you can do it, you fall into that. Maybe I’ll be a pharmacist. So that was a choice that, you know, and in life sometimes you have disappointments and that was a disappointment because I was never able to get into the program. So I did apply then to nursing and I applied to teaching. So I did have a choice then between teaching and nursing.


Dulcie Belchior (04:52):
And that’s, I think, you know, where you get to that point where you really truly have to reflect, this is my future. One of my best stat. And I think both of those careers, their careers, where you can help people in different ways, but you can help people. So I, you know, there was a lot of conversations with family, with my fiance. Who’s now my husband with some teachers. And I did decide that teaching was probably the best vocation for me. And so with all of that that long journey, I went into the bachelor of education program at York university. So that is my complicated story of how I got into teaching.


Sam Demma (05:34):
Oh, that’s not such an awesome story. I’ve never had someone tell me about mentoring other students in JK. So that’s such a cool, like origin for the story. Thank you so much for sharing. No problem. Like what happened after university? So you go into your bachelor’s at York, did you return directly to Dufferin-Peel and what different positions did you work in before getting into student success? Right.


Dulcie Belchior (05:57):
So after I graduated from New York with my bachelor of education, I was lucky enough to get a position as a teacher at Jefferson Peele. So I started my career teaching grade seven and eight at a school which no longer exists in the board. So it was near the airport in Mississauga, and it was actually called our lady of the airways, which I think is such a beautiful name for a school. But that school sends closed down. So I taught grade seven and eight for two years, and I was teaching science as well. So I was doing some rotation science because I was lucky enough to have that background. So that was an opportunity to share my talent and my joy, because I love science with the students there. So I did that for two years and in those two years, I decided to apply for the master’s program at Boise.


Dulcie Belchior (06:53):
So I started doing that part-time within the first two years of me starting teaching. So I got my master’s a couple of years later, curriculum teaching, learning department and specialized in teacher development. So I started that in my first couple of years of teaching. After that, I I applied for a position at St. Francis Xavier secondary school in Mississauga. So I was successful with the interview. So I became a high school teacher teaching science, which I love. So I was able to teach chemistry, biology grade nine and 10 science. And I was also trained to teach in the international baccalaureate program there. So I taught biology with the students there. So I got a lot of different types of experience there as well. I was able to help support the student council there cause I love student council because I was the president of student council at father Michael Gates when I was a high school student.


Dulcie Belchior (07:57):
So I thought, you know, I think that’s something that I can help students with. So I supported them there as well after teaching at St. Francis Xavier for many years, I decided it was time for a change time for another challenge. So I started taking my principal’s qualification courses and I got my PQP part one and part two. And I went into the interviews for a vice principal position at the board and was successful. And my first position as a vice principal was at St. Margaritaville secondary school in Brampton. So I worked there for approximately four years, and then I was a vice principal at father Michael Gates. The school that I actually graduated high school from, which was a little weird sometimes, sometimes going back as a VP within some of the teachers who were still there, but it was a great experience. So I was a VP there for years. Then I became a principal and I was a principal at St. A Dustin secondary school in Brampton for one year. And from there, I became the, my current time in the current position. Now the principal student success learning to 18 and secondary program. So that’s how, again, I found myself where I am to.


Sam Demma (09:18):
That’s awesome. What does the role entail? You know, student success and secondary programs, you know, certain educators are sitting might not be familiar with it, especially if they’re outside of Canada. So what does it, what does it entail? What does it look like and why are you passionate about it? What do you think student success means?


Dulcie Belchior (09:38):
I’m passionate about student success because my model, or, you know, what motivates me is that I want to inspire a love of learning in every student. Students need to see themselves in the learning. They need to see themselves be successful in the learning and our jobs. As teachers, as educators, is to provide the environment where they will be successful, not where they can meet, where they will be successful. And I think having this position at a system level really helps me help the principals, the administrators in the schools, and helps the teachers in the schools as well to provide professional development, to provide resources, to provide critical and culturally responsive resources for schools that will have students be able to number one, see themselves in the learning and number two, be successful at that learning. So again, that student success encompasses a lot of things that are in campuses, programs like, oh, yeah.


Dulcie Belchior (10:45):
Program programs like SHSM and even programs where students who may not have been successful in the past, I may have left school without graduating can come back and we invite them back to finish and to graduate and to get that opportunity to do that at a time in their life where they’re ready to do that. So I think there’s so many layers to this job where it it’s exciting. It’s exciting. And it’s a job where you can show people that teaching is not just filling a bucket full of knowledge. And here you go, that’s your knowledge, okay. It’s igniting a flame in students and in teachers and in all educators where everyone loves to learn, they see themselves as learners, they see themselves being successful and they can move forward and do what they are passionate about. So they have an opportunity to actually see what they’re passionate about, to experience things, different things so that they can make choices for their future, which is the most important thing.


Sam Demma (11:54):
I love that. And where did your passion for student success come from? Was it originally something that you wanted to explore and try, or did you know that it was something you were, you know, extremely passionate about?


Dulcie Belchior (12:07):
It’s something I’ve always been extremely passionate about. And as you know, when I became an administrator was an opportunity to become that instructional leader for teachers. And so when I started having that opportunity to pass on this passion, I guess, for students success for, you know, instructional leadership for assessment, for evaluation, for rich tasks, just doing a lot of great teaching whenever I had the opportunity to share that with others, I took it. And I think now in this position, it’s, it’s just a perfect place where I’d love to share different experiences, different resources, different opportunities, different types of professional development so that our educators can, you know, we’ll be able to ignite that flame in all of our students.


Sam Demma (13:05):
I love that. That’s awesome. That’s so cool. And what do you think right now are some of the challenges that we’re faced with in education and on the other coin, also some of the opportunities that these challenges may be bringing to us and, you know, a very difficult scenario.


Dulcie Belchior (13:23):
Well, I think, you know, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, which is COVID-19. And I think that’s been a huge challenge in education, especially since we’ve had to pivot sometimes on a daily basis and where educators have had to really, really change their mindset on what teaching and learning looks like. And students have had to change their mindset on what learning looks like. And, you know, going into a digital type, only learning has really pushed everyone to a new level. We really have been forced to become 21st century learners. And I think that is an opportunity in itself. So it is a great positive where we’ve learned how we can leverage digital technology as a wonderful tool to help students learn because that’s how they learn. That’s how they interact. That’s how they socialize. So it’s something they’re familiar with, which helps them be successful.


Dulcie Belchior (14:29):
Now, I don’t think that it should become the only thing that’s not what teaching and learning is about, but it is a wonderful tool that we can leverage in our classrooms. And I think so that’s been a challenge in itself, and I think it’s also an opportunity for the future. I think coming back in September, some of the challenges are going to be that, you know, students and staff, even though, and we’ve heard this before, we’ve all been in the same storm of COVID-19. People have been traveling through this storm in different vessels, different boats, sometimes a dinghy, sometimes a piece of driftwood. And now they’re coming back and we’re all going to be interacting with each other and we need to be kind, we need to be compassionate. We need to listen, and we need to understand that everyone is coming from a different place.


Dulcie Belchior (15:26):
So we are, we cannot, we cannot come back into our classrooms and expect everyone to be at the same level of learning at the same level of knowledge, at the same level of mental health and wellbeing, we are going to all be in different places. And I think so we have to come back with that understanding. And I think that’s the most important thing is to go slow, move slowly, listen, talk to students, get to know your learners, who’s in your classroom and what are the needs of every student in your classroom. We’re not going to go forward until we know what the needs of all of these students are because they’re all going to be different. And I think we have to change our mindset. We can’t think about it as a deficit. So, you know, the knowledge that they don’t bring in now because of COVID, that’s a deficit.


Dulcie Belchior (16:18):
No, we have to look at it as what are they coming in with and how can we move them forward? So how will we move them forward from where they’re at? So it’s not a deficit model, it’s a model of where are you at? We’re going to move you forward from there and we’re going to move everyone forward. And we’re going to use the best of our abilities to do that, but we have to do that with kindness and we have to do that with patients. And we have to know that it’s not going to happen in a day and it’s going to take a long time and that’s okay. That’s okay. Because we need to ensure that our students in our classrooms are healthy and that their well-being is taken care of and also our educators. Okay.


Sam Demma (17:06):
That’s amazing. The, you know, the cool thing, I think about student successes, that you have an opportunity to really impact a young person and not to not to say that, you know, every educator doesn’t have that opportunity. They all do, but when you’re focused solely on the success of the students, it’s, it’s a cool opportunity to make a big difference. Have you, you know, over the past couple of years being able to see the impact of some of the programs on the students directly and maybe you can share a story of one in particular that sticks out in your mind, and if it’s a serious individual, you can just change their name or just use Bob or something. Yeah.


Dulcie Belchior (17:45):
And, and in general, you’re right. It’s a great opportunity to see success and to see successes everywhere in the board. So it’s not just, you know, in one school it’s, if you have a, a program that you introduce, it’s how this supports a larger group of students or educators. So some of the things that we have done through program, number one, it has been we introduced the Edwin platform in our board for elementary students. So for grade seven and eight students, and what this platform did was actually provide students with one-on-one technology. So every student gets a laptop, a Chromebook, and the amazing things that I have been able to see, the amazing presentations, the research projects, just everything that’s coming out of the ability to change the mindset of learning and having students able to work together in a different way. And to have that one-to-one technology as a tool, it’s also helped the teachers change their mindset in how they teach in the classroom.


Dulcie Belchior (18:59):
And this was introduced before COVID. And I think that it benefited when we went into COVID with students already being kind of immersed in this type of learning. So it changes the way that they learn. It changes the way that they can present their ideas. You can do so many rich tasks using technology when students have it one on one. So I think that’s been great. And you see it, I see it in a large capacity, right? And students in general, families in general teachers saying how wonderful it is to have these things in their classrooms and how it has opened their minds to so many different ways of teaching and the different things that students can do. Students in JK, for example, coding, using the computers, we introduced a lot of different types of coding resources. And we, for example, the Bee-Bots, so it’s a little B that junior kindergarten students can actually code to move around a carpet or a floor.


Dulcie Belchior (20:15):
And they are learning coding at four years old, five years old. And that’s just, it’s amazing. So when you see videos that teacher’s tweaked videos, that teachers send us of their students working together in groups using these, Bee-Bots knowing that number one, they’re having fun. You can see that they’re having fun. Number two, they love to do it. And they’re learning a new language. This is a completely new language, and they’re learning it at four years old. It’s just amazing to that happening. So that was another thing that we did. I think another important thing in program that we’ve worked on is ensuring that, you know, we’re working on getting co culturally responsive and relevant resources into our secondary classrooms and our elementary libraries as well. But especially into our English classes, getting books where students can feel like they’re being represented, like they’re being reflected in the learning different characters relevant topics.


Dulcie Belchior (21:25):
And, you know, the letters that we have received from different students who were asked, here’s a book, let’s read it as a class. Give us your feedback on the book. What do you think, do you think students in your grade will like this book? Do you think it’s culturally responsive? Do you think it’s relevant to your generation right now? And the letters that I received from students saying, wow, thank you for actually asking that question. Thank you for having students involved in what we’re going to learn. You know, thank you for asking us, is this relevant to me as a student? And so again, I come back to that listening, understanding, knowing where kids are and, and asking the questions, you know, is this good for you? Will this help you learn? Will this help you love learning? Will this help you be successful? And I think that’s one of the biggest things that we’ve worked on that I find has been very rewarding. And we’re still working on that. It’s a large project obviously, and, you know, it takes time, but we’re working on it. So I think that’s been wonderful.


Sam Demma (22:37):
That’s amazing. And if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, like, you know, first year teaching, but what the advice and knowledge you have now, what advice would you give to your younger self?


Dulcie Belchior (22:50):
I think when you’re when you’re a new teacher, and I think back when I was a new teacher, it’s almost like you’re in survival mode and you, you think, oh, I just got to get through all of this information. I just have to teach, you know, I have to ensure that everything in this book is done and the kids get it and they all understand it. And it’s all good and done. So if I’ve covered it, I’m good. I think the advice that I will give is to take it slow, to take that time, to talk to every student, to get to know every student. So get to know what they love, what they’re interested in, how they learn, what they like to learn. What’s their favorite subjects and base your whole year. Everything based on that, because you can teach whatever. It doesn’t matter what you teach, but if you are not connecting with your students, they will not learn.


Dulcie Belchior (23:48):
They will not learn. So I think taking that extra time, cause I know time is always an issue and it is time is always an issue for everyone in every career. But that is so important that time that you take initially with those students will make a difference for the rest of the year and for years to come, they’ll come back. And I think that’s the one thing that students will come back and say is you took the time to know me so that I could be successful. So that’s the advice I give to any new teacher.


Sam Demma (24:21):
Love that. Awesome. They’ll see. Thank you so much for sharing some of your stories, philosophies, perspectives. If another educator is listening right now and wants to reach out to you and bounce some ideas around, talk about cool programs, what would be the best way to get in touch?


Dulcie Belchior (24:36):
Well, they can get in touch with me on Twitter. So it’s at @MsDBelchior, or they can email me at dulcie.belchior@dpcdsb.org.


Sam Demma (24:55):
Keep up the amazing work. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Best of luck with the next school year.


Dulcie Belchior (25:02):
Thanks so much, Sam. Have a great day.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Dulcie Belchior-Demedeiros

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.

Peter Prochilo – Superintendent of School Effectiveness, Sudbury Catholic District School Board

Peter Prochilo
About Peter Prochilo

Peter Prochilo (@PeterProchilo) is currently a Superintendent of Education with the Sudbury Catholic District School Board. His portfolio includes the supervision of all Secondary Schools, Secondary Curriculum, Alternative and Adult Education, International Education and the Remote/Virtual School

Peter leads with a passion for equity of access and enhanced student pathways as he supports students, staff and school communities as they collectively strive for improved outcomes for all. 

Connect with Peter: Email | Twitter | Linkedin

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Time Blocking

Marzano’s Evaluation Method

It’s all in your head

The Transcript

**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.

Sam Demma (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the high-performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today’s guest is Peter Prochilo. Peter is currently a superintendent of education with the Sudbury Catholic district school board. His portfolio includes the supervision of all secondary schools, secondary curriculum, alternative and adult education, international education, and the remote slash virtual school. Peter leads with a passion for equity of access and enhance student pathways. As he supports students, staff, and school communities, as they collectively strive for improved outcomes for all. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Peter. It was an engaging one with lots of actionable ideas and insights.


Sam Demma (00:45):
Peter, welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Each pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about your upbringing and what brought you to where you are today?


Peter Prochilo (01:39):
Okay. Thanks Sam. Good to be here. So my name is Peter Prochilo and i’m the superintendent of education for the Sudbury Catholic district school board with primary responsibilities around secondary programming in schools. So my educational journey began back, I guess when we can go further way back started with my, one of my older sisters being an educator and, and watching what she was doing I’m the youngest of five. And there was a large gap between me and that sister. And so I watched her and the joy education and working with children and young adults brought her. And that was sort of my, my end, if you will. And then through university, it just became more and more clear through my involvement either in coaching various sports and just my involvement in the community that it was, it was going to be my path. And so that brings me to, you know, education. I had 26 years as a, as a teacher and then a special education resource teacher consultant program principal and school principal, and then the arose to apply to my present position here in Sudbury. And it became a big big shift at at my age to to take that leap and take that leap and come and take on this role and the challenges of the role. And it’s been it’s been great.


Sam Demma (03:19):
Wow. That’s amazing. And aside from your own sister, which must’ve been a huge inspiration and motivation for you, do you recall other educators or teachers that you had when you were a student that also played a pivotal role in your, you know, your own development as a student, but maybe even inspired you to consider education as well?


Peter Prochilo (03:39):
For sure. I think a lot of those came during my years in high school where we had a number of teachers that you know, it was sort of that unwritten rule. I didn’t need to be set. They were there for students. And we were able to students were able to connect with them and B became, they became mentors if you will. And then they and, and so they were, there were some go-to people that definitely paved the way, if you will, to see what, what a career in education would be like and, and what that looks like to help others. And so at that stage, it became for me realizing that, you know, educators are really the, the gatekeepers of equity and my friends and I, my, my peer group at that time were from a certain socioeconomic status.


Peter Prochilo (04:36):
And we were able to see how, regardless of your background, regardless of where you come from everyone was treated equally. And, and I was lucky to be in a school that that was espoused, but, you know, certainly for the mentors that I reflect back on as mentors, they were really championing that idea of equity before it became it became an entity, as we know it today, right. Being immersed in curriculum, immersed in policy they were living, they were living that idea of equity. It doesn’t matter. Who’s in front of me who comes through that door, we’re all treated the same and they should all have the same opportunities to succeed.


Sam Demma (05:22):
That’s amazing. And when you think about those educators that also had a big impact on you personally, like, what do you think they did for you? Like if you had to think back, and you’re not that old, so you can definitely think back to high school for a quick second, but if you had to put yourself back into a high school classroom, like, what do you think teachers do or can do to make sure that their students feel seen, heard and appreciated and, you know, make an impact on the students in their classroom? And what did your students do for you or your teachers do for you?


Peter Prochilo (05:54):
Well, I think, you know, reflecting back, I can, I can identify it now, but in the moment it was just accessibility. They were accessible. I think when you, when I reflect back on what it means to me now is that they were really showing their humanity. Right. We saw these people in the community, they were my coaches for soccer. They were like, we’ve seen them in, you know, community events or my church, or, you know what I mean? Like they showed the human face of service really, in a nutshell, they were, they were really exemplary in putting themselves forward. And we knew, you know, even at that age and everyone comes from different backgrounds, everyone has different experiences. Everyone has different challenges. Everyone is carrying things with them that we may not know right. Or that they’re dealing with, but they came into that classroom and that building everyday best foot forward, smile on their face. It’s old time, you know what I mean? I’m really cool with that. But it was like, it was, it was game time for them. Right. And so they knew being in that space, what they, what they could meet to the students that they serve. And that really shine through because you can see the, you can easily see the difference between those that ended up being mentors of mine, to those that were not as approachable.


Sam Demma (07:16):
Yeah. I think that’s really important, you know, making your students aware that you’re there for them and that you have time for them. My, one of the things my teacher did that had a huge impact on me was get to know me on a personal level so much so that he could understand my motivation for being in his class, right. For every student, the reason you might be sitting in biology class is different. One student might want to become a scientist. Maybe I just want to take biology so I could get into kinesiology in university. Like every student had a different reason. And if you know, the reason why a student is sitting in your class, it allows you to, you know, appeal to their motivation and interests. Yeah, accessibility getting to know the student were things that had a huge impact on me as well. So thank you for sharing that. What do you think are some of the challenges we’re faced with an education right now? I mean, obviously because of COVID, there are some huge ones. But what do you think are some of the challenges we’re faced with and what are some of the opportunities within the challenging?


Peter Prochilo (08:15):
I’m glad you said that Sam, because I see COVID as presenting, of course, the challenges that we all have come to understand, but it also provides a lot of opportunities, a lot of opportunities to meet those challenges. And one of the big challenges that we’re dealing with now, and I keep coming back to the idea of equity is, is equity of access. And so it’s really important in my role and for my colleagues and for all of our system leaders and school leaders is to really look at what are what are the, what are the impediments to equity of access in a remote situation when we’ve had to cycle into remote learning and you, it really becomes a parent students that, that need need more support than others. And there’s that you’re, you’re trying to try to bridge that gap, right.


Peter Prochilo (09:06):
In terms of providing and providing access, whether it be access to technology access to, to us. And just making sure that you are always acting as a community, right? Because you, you, you tend to a situation like COVID can quickly make people think in a, more of a siloed situation, right? This is, you know, this is my department, this is what I do. And the trick has been the push has been to make sure that everyone acts continues to act and they do to act as though we’re all, we’re all together because it’s more important to be together. Especially during this time, the opportunity comes in the realization that we’ve been able to very quickly and effectively leverage technology. And so for the last 10 years in education, we’ve been looking for ways to effectively use technology in a classroom setting.


Peter Prochilo (10:07):
Face-To-Face whether you’re a fan of Marzano’s work on, you know, the triad and using technology one, you know, one piece of technology for three students working collaboratively. And now you, you see that a lot of that change has that a lot of that shift has to happen because students are either at home working right. And trying to connect. And so the beauty came out in leveraging technology effectively to maintain that community feeling. And I think that’s one of the successes that, that shines through whether it was students in the elementary panel that had a complete remote school, and may we still partnered them with their homeschool. So they have that, that connectivity, and even for secondary students, right. Because in my, in my specific role, we’re going to go into this year where students have high school students that have a four year career, I’ve had two years jumping in and out of remote situation.


Peter Prochilo (11:04):
Yeah. And so now the opportunity is to really, when they come back face to face is to really, you know, show them what that community is all about because it’s been disjointed. Right. And so the opportunity and the challenge, you know, two-sided coin, the challenge is to you know, of course, all of our colleagues and, and, and my staff are ready to do so is to welcome them back with open arms, make them feel you know, deal with that, that, that little bit of trepidation, that little bit of anxiety will coming back face-to-face and really using that as an opportunity to showcase what a school community can be. All can be all about point.


Sam Demma (11:48):
Yeah. That’s awesome. And what personally, what personally motivates you every day to continue doing this work?


Peter Prochilo (11:57):
You must have a personal driver as well. They wakes you up and keeps you going as well. Yeah. It’s a number of things, but primarily that, that idea of being a guardian of equity, right. That’s the piece for me that, you know, it’s kind of the lens. I see a lot of problems through, you know, where, where is the equity piece in this? How can we make sure that the challenges challenges are met with that, with that lens you know, we have a group of students will always have a group of students that will do very well. We’ll always have a group of students that need extra support, but sometimes I find from my own experience is that we really need to connect with all students and making sure that they all have voice choice and see themselves as learners. Right. And it’s not only, and so you’re thinking not only for these four years that we have them in high school, but we need to help all of them see themselves or the next part, right. You’re preparing them for a few weeks that you, we may not see, but you, you, you want to make sure that we give them all the, all the tools that they need to make those choices. And, and to know that they’re better for having had us in their lives through grandiose.


Sam Demma (13:23):
Makes sense. My grandfather… I think you’re Italian? I come from an Italian background in Greek as well. And my Italian grandfather Salvato was a big gardener. And he would always bring me to his backyard, gardens, tomatoes, everywhere, cucumbers, zucchini, like everything. And the more I started working with students, I realized that educators or anyone that works with youth are kind of like gardeners and you plant the seed and you do what you can to water it. And, you know, sometimes, you know, you show up one day and the tomatoes fully there, you didn’t even see it grow. Sometimes it never grows until, you know, 20 years later and you don’t even realize it. And I think that’s the same with students. You know, you, you do everything you can to set them up for success. And you know, maybe 10 years later, they come up to you and say, Hey, Pete, I remember what you told me. I remember what you told me 12 years ago and, you know, whatever class. And you’re like, I don’t even remember what I told you. How do you remember what I told you? But I’m curious to know, do you have any stories that come to mind of, you know, programs that have impacted young people within the schools you’ve worked in, or students that have come up to you or teachers that, you know, and let them know about the impact of the work has had on them?


Peter Prochilo (14:36):
I’ve been lucky to have a number of really unique experiences. And I’ve been blessed with students that have sought either sought me out or met me by happens happenstance. And you either invited me to their wedding or made a you know, a king to came to my office to show me their first born child, you know, and they wanted me to meet there and see what they become. So at one point in my career I was facilitator, I mean, educator in a classroom that was purposely designed around students who always found themselves in physical altercations. So it was a standalone class where students came to me from different schools and we worked on we worked on an educational and a social plan for six weeks at a time. Okay. And so benchmarks were six weeks and we would, we assess work with the student and the family and have them go back to their home school.


Peter Prochilo (15:45):
Right. And so these students as you can imagine, were either on the verge of being expelled have multiple multiple incidents of physical altercations and the like, and I had I can remember each of their means for the two years that I taught that class. And I can remember even up to about four or five years ago, where one of those, one of those in this case, it was a young young man. Now an adult came to me and wanted to show me his, his welding, his new truck, right. Because he’s now, he’s now an underwater welder. So he took it to you know, and he wanted he came, he sought me out at the school where I was at and made the appointment to come and see me and want to, want me to see where he, he where he, where he’s been, what he’s been doing, that was great, you know, and it was I just stopped everything right there and made time for him.


Peter Prochilo (16:57):
And and we had a good, we had a good talk and I was good, you know, it’s, it was really good to see that some of those things that we, you know, we take each of the students’ interests to heart, of course, and you, you, you deal with each student individually, but it’s, it was good to see that sort of the cumulative effect of things that I stick to and say, you know, it goes back to your garden analogy. Cause my dad was a gardener as well. And so, you know, regardless of what produced that year, I knew that my dad did the same thing to that garden every year. She might tweak a couple of things, but the care that he put into that garden was the same every year, regardless. So the same thing in this case, this young man who came back in that, you know, it may have been at that point in time, I’m teaching this young person in that, in that immediate role when he was in that class, through these steps. Right. But sometimes we don’t think that, you know, we think it’s just a process, but it’s really a a connection that you’re making with the students. Right. And we, even though we might do it repeatedly, like you say, you don’t know that effect. Right. We may wonder what happens, but it was really great that the student came back to show me yeah. He was more proud of the certificate or his truck.


Sam Demma (18:29):
That’s awesome. That’s amazing. Yeah. The phrase that my teacher taught me that had a big impact that aligns with what you just said was you just got to take consistent action and forget about the result, take the actions and forget about the results. And his phrase was small, consistent actions. And I actually wear it on my wrist on this little wristband. I’ve actually, if you give them to the students too, but yeah, it was something my grade 12 older shoes teacher taught me and it’s such a good reminder. Yeah, you’re right. Like the process some years you stick to it, but the produce might not be as great, but you did everything that you needed to do. Same thing with teaching, you know, sometimes people forget that, you know, especially students forget that educators also have families and problems and challenges, and they’re also human beings themselves. You know, when they’re standing at the front of the classrooms, what are some of your own personal hobbies and passions? I know guitar is one of them, but maybe you can share a couple of those things.


Peter Prochilo (19:26):
You know, it’s really been trying to, like you say, try to stay consistent with things. So those are my own hobbies outside of, outside of my work, including my family. It would be certainly the outdoors is a big part of that, whether I’m golfing or I’m just out on a hike even, or for a run or even just a walk, especially around the lake here, it’s always, always trying to do new stuff like that. I’m always branching out that way. And also I know I mentioned golf even though it’s, it’s more of a long walk interrupted by hitting a light balls many times.


Sam Demma (20:06):
And swimming sometimes.


Peter Prochilo (20:10):
Yeah. And then, you know, for me, even one of the sort of escapes, if you will, is, is kind of the, the last few years has been reading nice items. Cause we’re always confronted with reading for for our occupation for work. And it’s there, but you know, making the time to read other items, right. Other other works, it’s always been non-fiction for me. I sort of been musically sort of the, the genre of music and biographies and the like, because music is certainly a big part of, there’s always a song in my head, said my staff one or two that are you humming today, right there. Yeah. So it’s just, it’s, it’s a sort of a combination of things, but certainly even with a busy schedule, just trying to maintain a level of physical activity as we get older, those opportunities for team sports seem to dwindle, but you know other than other than personal fitness getting out into nature is really.


Sam Demma (21:25):
I love that. Well, it’s on the topic of books about music. Here’s the one that I read recently that maybe you can check out. It might be a different genre than you’re used to, but I think you’d like it. So, this book is called it’s all in your head. Get out of your way by Russ Russ, Russell Vitaly is actually a Sicilian rapper from the U S yeah, funny. And I love his book. So he’s an independent artist and basically outlines the story of how he went from nothing to something. And what makes this story very unique is he never ended up joining a record label, turned them all down and kind of did it himself. And it just outlines this whole journey and story and what he overcame and how he got to where he is now and yeah, different genre, but you should check it out.


Sam Demma (22:10):
It might be something that you can listen to. And I think you’re so right about music too. Like when I think back to high school and every kid has different hobbies and they all play different sports and different activities, but I think something that every student has in common is they’ve listened to some form of music Friday. It’s like, it might be a different genre, but they all have a band or an artist or something that they like listening to. An art has such a way of connecting with young people so much so that I’m actually myself trying to work on a spoken word album to appeal to students as well. And yeah, you just really, you just nailed that connection in my own head. And I was like, ah, that makes a lot of sense. I think everyone has a piece of music that they’re always looking forward to. If you could go back Peter and speak to yourself in your first year of teaching, you know, when you’re, but, but with the knowledge and experience you have now looking back, what advice would you give your younger self?


Peter Prochilo (23:05):
Two things. One develop consistent habits right away. Okay. You know, because even the mentors at that time would tell me, you’re going to find your, you know, you’re going to find your way. Right. But you know, it’s really good to compare what you do. I always use the term skeleton, right. It ask my staff or Caitlin let’s deal with the skeleton and we’ll fill in the fill in the parts. You know what I mean? We’ll fill in the rest. But to have that starting point is really important. And I think if I would be able to go back, I would dig deeper in some of the literature and it would be non-educational. I would really go back and look at sort of the, the, the thoughts from the business world, how they manage time and how they, how you schedule your day and all those kinds of things. Because I still do that to this day.


Sam Demma (24:11):
Yeah.


Peter Prochilo (24:13):
I don’t know if you’ve seen time-blocking before.


Sam Demma (24:16):
I’m a huge fan.


Peter Prochilo (24:19):
And so I see this.


Sam Demma (24:22):
This is awesome.


Peter Prochilo (24:23):
I have one of these people make fun of me for it. That’s fine. But it’s my it’s my time blocking from five in the morning, till midnight. And what are my top priorities? What are my secondary priorities? And then a certain light rain.


Sam Demma (24:40):
Where did you grab the idea from originally?


Peter Prochilo (24:43):
There was a couple that floated around one strong Elon Musk that uses something similar. And then there were a few versions online and I just modified what I saw to fit, to fit. What’s going to work for me, but that’s what I mean by a skeleton. Right. So if I had something like that, when I started, that’d be number one, you know, searching for those elements that help you organize yourself and stay consistent. That’s the first, the second thing I would tell myself is don’t take yourself too serious. Yeah. Have a little, and I did have fun. Like, don’t get me wrong. There’s my stories are pretty hilarious from when I started teaching, you know, I had fun, I had fun with colleagues. I had fun working with students got involved. You know, I coached, I did some after-school group. Like we did a, I did a bunch of things, but not to take yourself seriously and just really enjoy where you are in that moment. Don’t think ahead too far.


Sam Demma (25:44):
I love that that’s, those are awesome pieces of advice. And you got me thinking again about the organizational techniques and tactics and ideas. Have you read any books that have been foundational in terms of your self-leadership stuff that you think you should, you know, would be valuable for another educator to check out or read or listen to?


Peter Prochilo (26:02):
Well, my experience has been fairly unique well in Ontario, because it’s always been through Catholic schools. I got in counted organization. And so I’ve always taken the Ignation view. So that’s been sort of my guidepost, spiritually and organizationally. Right. And so I really that kind of did that on my own for awhile. Yeah. Seeing that ignition thought. And then the concept of servant leadership really came forward in a boat 15 years ago, perhaps. Nice to forefront in terms of what, you know, green leaf had a whole series on servant leadership. And that was sort of the solidifying moment where it was, oh, this is a thing it’s not just something that’s rattling around in my head.


Peter Prochilo (27:01):
And and then just, you know, reading as much as I could about that and, and sort of identifying the items that I, the things that I already do, and then looking at what else I can incorporate, you can incorporate everything because you, you know, this is year 30 for me in education, 30, 31. So you know, educators take, you never abandoned the good stuff, right? Like it’s like a snowball, right. You start off with your core beliefs and then this comes along, right? This, this new thought, this new approach and you incorporate it into what you’re already doing, but you never let go of what’s at your core is getting bigger. But that in the center is still the center, still the center. Right. And you, you all, you pick up the great things and you know, some things go by the wayside, but you’re always, you’re always developing. You’re always adding to that core.


Sam Demma (27:58):
Love that. Awesome. Well, this has been a very awesome conversation. I really appreciate you taking some time to come on the show and share some of your philosophies, resources, stories it’s been. Yeah. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. If, if there’s another educator listening right now who feels a little inspired or just wants to, you know, reach out will be the best way for them to get in touch with you.


Peter Prochilo (28:21):
Probably just through, email’s probably the easiest at this point. And I can share that with you, if you want me to, to share.


Sam Demma (28:28):
Sure. You can actually say it now, or I can put it in the show notes of the episode as well.


Peter Prochilo (28:32):
Yeah. So it’s just peter.prochilo@sudburycatholicschools.ca.


Sam Demma (28:45):
Awesome. Peter again, thank you so much. This has been great.


Peter Prochilo (28:47):
It’s been great. Thank you for the opportunity. It’s been great talking to you and I look forward to listening to the rest of your series.


Sam Demma (28:57):
Now 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 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.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Peter Prochilo

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.

Douglas Gleddie, PhD – President of Physical and Health Education Canada and Professor at the University of Alberta

Douglas Gleddie President PHE Canada
About Douglas Gleddie

Douglas L. Gleddie, PhD, is a husband and father who also happens to be an Associate Professor and Acting Vice-Dean/Associate Dean Academic in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta (UofA). He teaches physical and health education curriculum and pedagogy to undergraduate students and graduate courses in health and physical education, reflective practice, physical/health literacy and research methods. Doug’s research focuses on narratives of physical education, school sport, physical literacy praxis, meaningful physical education, and teacher education.

Doug’s life-long journey of exploration into joyful and meaningful movement has enabled him to work with a wide variety of people and organizations across Canada and around the world. Doug began his career as a K-12 teacher, spent 6 years as the Director of the Ever Active Schools program, served 2 years as the Alberta Board member for PHE Canada and has chaired local, national and (coming soon) international conferences. He co-authored three books including the most recent – Healthy Schools, Healthy Futures. Doug can be found on Twitter (@doug_gleddie), writes a blog at www.hslab.ca and takes care of his own wellness by being active with his family; improving his guitar picking and seeking new adventures.

Connect with Douglas: Email | Twitter | Website

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Meaningful Physical Education: An approach for teaching and learning

Healthy Schools LAB

PHE Canada

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 Doug Gleddie. Doug is a husband and father who also happens to be a professor at the university of Alberta in a career filled with change. The only true constants have been physical education activity, working with students and how joys filled the spaces in between this lifelong journey of exploration into joyful and meaningful movement has enabled Doug to work with a wide variety of people and organizations across Canada and around the world.


Sam Demma (01:16):
He has published numerous articles in academic and professional journals, and co-authored four books, including the most recent, meaningful physical education and approach for teaching and learning. Doug is a founding member of the healthy schools lab, and his research interests include narratives of physical education, school sport, physical literacy Praxis, meaningful physical education, and teacher education. Doug does his best thinking on a mountain bike or around a campfire. I’m so excited for you to hear today’s conversation with Doug. I will see you on the other side of this interview. Enjoy!


Sam Demma (01:57):
Doug. Welcome to the high-performing educator podcast. Pleasure to have you on the show here today. Why don’t you start by just introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about what brought you to where you are today in education?


Douglas Gleddie (02:08):
Yeah, sure. Thanks Sam. I appreciate you having me on it should be fun. You promised it would be fun anyways, so that’s good. Yeah. So I’ve been in education now for almost 25 years, which seems kind of strange. Cause I don’t feel that old, but I guess I am so yeah, it took me a while to kind of find my way into education a bit because I you know, with my own kids now, I always, I always encourage them to think about no matter what they’re working in or what they’re doing. Just think about what they enjoy about it. Right. And, and what are they good at and what skills are they learning and how does that apply to different things? So for me, a couple of commonalities emerged the first was just a love working with children and youth anywhere from Sunday school to babysitting, to playing with cousins.


Douglas Gleddie (03:05):
I just, I really enjoyed that piece. So that’s kind of stuck. And then, you know, physical activity movement has always been a key part of my life from like I grew up on a farm and I basically had free range of the half the section and could, you know, run around with very few restraints and you know, climbing trees, hopping, fences, getting chased by cows. It’s all, it’s all part of the game. And so that, that physical activity was really good. And just so those two things kind of connected eventually and led me to a career in education and specifically more physical education. So that went through from, you know, I spent almost 14 years as a teacher K to 12, but most of that time, junior high, but I’ve, I’ve taught everything except food studies, I think. And then and phys ed K to K to 12, settled at kind of junior high that seven to eight and then eventually ended up getting a master’s degree and then a PhD in ending up at the university. And sometimes I still feel I don’t belong, but I’m still a teacher first.


Sam Demma (04:13):
That’s awesome. It’s a cool journey. What about physical activity appealed to you or phys ed. And where did that interest come? Did you also play sports growing up like a lot or?


Douglas Gleddie (04:24):
Yeah, I did. I, you know, I played a lot of sports. I still do. It’s I really think it’s the environment. It’s just, it was that opportunity. Like we didn’t have, I mean, I certainly don’t have the distractions that kids have today with, with devices and social media and everything else. Like we were barely allowed to watch TV and there was only really out on the farm. We only got one or two channels consistently anyways, so it wasn’t a big draw. And so it was just, I think that foundation of, of just being encouraged to be outside and we made up our own games, we played and then like I never played organized sports until junior high. I played one season of outdoor hockey before it moved into or, and then it was too expensive. And so we couldn’t do it anymore, but we always played, you know, we played hockey on our pond.


Douglas Gleddie (05:19):
You know, my brothers and I, and my sister, we, we invented games, you know, throwing a tennis ball at the back steps and you had to catch it before, you know, one person will throw it. The other person have to catch it. And if it hits the screen door, y’all ran like hell, cause mom would get mad. So he figured out the rules. But I think it’s also just, just the freedom of being able to choose what you enjoy. So if you feel like what you need is a walk in the woods, then you choose that. If you feel like what you need is a, a super competitive game of tennis with someone who really pushes you to be better than you can choose that.


Sam Demma (05:53):
That’s awesome. I love that. And I’m really fascinated farming for him. We’ll get to that in a second with, with this idea that if you don’t, if you don’t so anything, you don’t reap anything to go at a young age, you get taught, like if you don’t plant the seed, you’ll never get the vegetable. So I feel like whether, you know, it or not, you’re taught that if you want something, you have to work for it. And I’m curious to know for you personally, if that life of growing up on a farm, like taught you a lot of principles that you think you still hold today.


Douglas Gleddie (06:25):
Oh. And you know, you have to, you certainly have to take care of things. There’s responsibilities. Like we, we had mostly livestock. I mean, we did crops and we had a massive vegetable garden. And so you do, you have to put the work in and you can’t just plant the seed. And then, you know, three months later start picking tomatoes, you know, there’s, there’s weeding, there’s pest control, there’s fertilizing, there’s, you know, all that kind of stuff in there and it takes work. Right. And and then with livestock, you learn a lot of both sacrifice because you can’t, you can’t take care of your own needs before your livestock’s needs because that’s your livelihood. And so, you know, there were years, like I remember a year when my dad, my dad hurt his back and I was, I was one of the only, I think I was the only kid at home.


Douglas Gleddie (07:13):
My older brothers were away at college and it was like minus 50. So we had sheep and we had, you know, probably six, 700 ewes to take care of. And so they’re all outside and, and they had shelter, but you need to get on feed them. So you, you bundle up and you put on your ski goggles and you, you do what you need to do, but you have to take care of that before you take care of your own needs, because literally they will die without your care. So I think that work ethic, that, that ethic of care, and, and also like we did things together as a family, like it was a family farm. We work to get stuff done. And when, you know, when it’s time for the, you know, the, the, the phrase making hay while the sun shines and comes from a real place, because you got to get that hand. So, you know, I spent time sitting on a Baylor past midnight you know, picking up hay bales, stacking bales because you have to get it done. And it was, it was hard work, but we did it together. Right. You’re in it together. Yeah.

Sam Demma (08:19):
That’s awesome. Like I, my, so my grandfather worked on a farm for most of his life. He came here with nothing and he work at GM at night and then on a farm during the day and barely ever saw my, my dad, my dad would tell me that once a week on Fridays at like 2:00 AM, he would come home and get off early. And he would wake the family up for a pizza and a, they would all eat together and like the mall, cause tomorrow tomorrow’s not school, everyone can sleep in. And you know, it’s funny cause like the things you’re saying are like similar things to my grandfather, I think passed down to me about like hard work and these types of values to transition the conversation slightly. I was just curious about asking you about that. But to, to transition this slightly what, what, what led you into education? So you could have taken like the passions you grew up with in many directions, coaching athletics. Why, why did, why did it end up that you went into teaching?


Douglas Gleddie (09:16):
And a good, good question. Sort of go back to what I said earlier about trying to find what, you know, what kind of makes you tick and what you enjoy, like the outdoors children and youth mood. But, you know, I, I considered being a conservation officer like being an official wildlife cause that’s outside. But so I think for me, I, like I had an experience of, I ended up teaching overseas for, for a year in south America. And I really enjoyed that experience of working with the kids. And I think for me the difference was that being a part of a kid’s learning journey and being a part. And, and when you see, when you, when you have a student in specifically in phys ed, that they kinda, they kinda get it and that, that, you know, that switch kind of turns it or that, that switch flicks and you kind of know, they go, wow, this is really fun.


Douglas Gleddie (10:13):
Like I enjoy this and you see them picking it out. Like I’m a big mountain biker. I love, I love to mountain bike. And I used to run in the junior high. We ran a mountain bike club and we did stuff. And to, to, to see someone and specifically there’s a, there was one girl. I remember she was pretty tentative about stuff, but she came on a trip with a bunch of us and there, she was the only girl on the trip, but she did awesome. And she went off like this two foot jump that she never would have done before. And she was just so excited. Right. So, so to kind of see that and to encourage that and to get people excited about movement and, and taking care of themselves, I think that’s where I ended up, you know, going down that road to teacher education. Cause I didn’t, I did an undergrad degree in, in basically history and physical education, a major concentration. And then I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a while. And I played around with stuff and I, I played sports. I did some coaching, but it was really that, that physical education piece in those early, that early learning and being able to connect with kids that way, I think.

Sam Demma (11:20):
Cool. And whereabouts were you in south America when you taught overseas? Oh,

Douglas Gleddie (11:23):
I was improved. Oh wow.

Sam Demma (11:26):
That’s awesome.

Douglas Gleddie (11:26):
Very small jungle town.


Sam Demma (11:30):
Did you ever hear music like this? [inaudible] That’s awesome.


Douglas Gleddie (11:39):
You just have that handy right there.


Sam Demma (11:41):
Whatever, whenever you tell bad jokes, I’ll crack this one, but that’s awesome. What brought you out to Peru? So like w was there like an opportunity? Tell me more about that.


Douglas Gleddie (11:55):
Yeah, it was it was. after I graduated from my first degree I just, I wanted to, actually, I was looking at traveling the world that wants to just maybe take a year and travel around, but I wanted to kind of give back. So I wanted to either go and, you know, volunteer somewhere or work on a mission or do whatever. And so I was looking at opportunities and I just actually wanted to do that for about a month. And then I just wanted to travel. But one of the guys I talked to he’s like, well, we’ve got an opportunity at this school if you want to come here and teach. But it’s a full year. And I was like, nah, not interested in, he looked at me, he said, I think you’ll be back. And it was at this big, I don’t know mission Fest.


Douglas Gleddie (12:37):
It was called all these different opportunities for different service organizations and that sort of thing. And so, and yeah, I was back and I talked to him a little bit more and, and and you know, they needed someone to teach phys ed and a little bit of history. So it seemed like it was tailor made for kind of the training that I’d had. And so that’s how I ended up there. It was great. It was a fantastic experience just to be immersed in completely different culture, different language. You know, I took some Spanish classes before I went down, but I basically learned on the fly, which was fun. And I was teaching mostly Americans at the school. But just to, just to live in the community and, and I would love to go into town and go play basketball and volleyball with people. And there’s just different, different cultural situations that you have to learn and figure out. So it was yeah, I would say it was a pretty formational experience.


Sam Demma (13:33):
That’s amazing. And did you find it challenging or if so, like what were some of the challenges at first?


Douglas Gleddie (13:40):
Oh, yeah, it was challenging because like, I didn’t know anyone there. Right. And you, at the time, like you have to think this is, so this was in, let me see 1993, it seems like a long time ago now, but very little internet. I did get an email address when I went down there, but I literally only knew one of the personal email address. And that was my brother who was at the university of Saskatchewan at the time. Like even phone lines were one way. So literally if I would phone you, I’d be like, Hey, how’s it going, Sam over, over?


Douglas Gleddie (14:23):
So, you know, a little bit of isolation, but great community. The language was a challenge, but I, you know, I enjoyed that. I’m, I’m pretty open and pretty willing to take risks. So you just kind of jump in and you mess up some words and you, you know, you figure some stuff out. Yeah, I don’t, I just found it to be a really, like, there were lots of challenges, but nothing seemed unsurmountable. You just kind of go through and, you know, you’re 23 and you figure it out. Right. You know what that’s like?


Sam Demma (14:57):
Yeah. I mean, in two more years I will. But people always talk about gap years, fifth years especially now with COVID, it’s being talked about even more. And something that always emphasize is travel. Like, do you think traveling to another country is an experience that everyone should go through living somewhere else? Kind of off topic, but just curious about your thoughts on that.


Douglas Gleddie (15:22):
Yeah. I do. Like with my, with my classes, with pre-service teachers at the U of a, I, I certainly encourage if you have the opportunity to try and like go teach in Cambodia, go teach in Thailand. There’s lots of opportunities. You can still teach, for example, using Alberta curriculum and some of these schools. And so it doesn’t, it doesn’t hold you back for your career in Canada. But and I do think there’s a difference between just traveling and visiting. Like you can go, you know, you could go visit Peru for a couple of weeks and you’ll get a sense of things, but when you live there, you know, I, I kept on my favorite phrase after I’d been there for awhile is a, I’m going to butcher the Spanish, but it’s like, I’m not a tourist. I live here like this. So I go to the market and someone would go, oh, this is, you know, this is five solos. And I’d be like, no, no, no, I’m not a tourist. I live here. Oh, you know, half that.


Douglas Gleddie (16:22):
But so I do think going somewhere and spending a significant amount of time with the people that are there. Like I had an opportunity to spend three weeks in Kenya, a number of years ago, and it was different than spending a year improve. And I still, you know, we were working with the local community and, and we were you know, we, we shared tents with, with locals and we shared meals and we did that the whole time. And so that was really good, but it was still only three weeks. And so you’re still kind of parachuting in and then running away. Whereas when you’re there for a longer time, you can deal with Velop relationships. You can get deeper understandings, I think, but I would definitely recommend if you have opportunity, not everyone has the opportunity and you know, it can be difficult to find the funds and to find the support to do that. But if you have the chance, but yeah. Going to a, you know, a resort and Ken Kuhn doesn’t count as visiting another country.


Sam Demma (17:18):
Yeah. I think that’s very important to state. I actually, I’m a big fan of traveling just for new perspectives and awareness. Like I did Iceland two summers ago before COVID and we drove in a car, slept in the car, like crazy experiences, but to the whole country in like 10 days, and I’m actually going to Calgary and we’re going to do like again, a big road trip, not staying at any hotels, they’re all like hostels and Airbnbs, but yeah. And I think it’s a great experience for anyone to have only teachers, but people in general, I’m curious about people who made an impact on you while you were still in school. If you can remember. I know you’re not that old, but, but think back to, you know, you and high school, even in college university, did you have any teachers that at the snap of a finger you can think of this person had a big impact on me as a student? Maybe even like pushed me in this direction a little bit.


Douglas Gleddie (18:16):
Yeah. I think there’s certainly, I mean, I, I did have I had a physical education teacher in elementary, junior high, who and I didn’t really recognize it until later kind of looking back his impact. And it was interesting like quite a number of years later, I was doing a workshop out our teacher’s convention here. And he signed up to to introduce me, which was kinda neat because it was like, oh, that’s Mr. Goodell. He gets to, he gets introduced, man. So he started out, he’s like, well, this is Doug. I taught him in elementary and junior high. And if this is a great session, I taught him everything. He knows if it’s not a good session, he couldn’t teach that dang kid anything.


Douglas Gleddie (19:02):
But, you know, he, he was very innovative in his own way. He tried some really unique things with participation in schools, Ford and not, and, and those are things that I’m working on now. So I think looking back, like I wouldn’t have recognized it at the time, but looking back, I, I see, yeah, there’s some, there’s some impact there. I had a volleyball coach and just for one year in my last year of high school who came in and, and took a completely different approach to coaching that was much more developmental and fundamental that just let’s play games. Let’s just scrimmage.


Sam Demma (19:33):
What does that look like? Like what did she, or what did that person do that made a big difference?


Douglas Gleddie (19:38):
Yeah. Well, I think first of all, he came in with like, he had some high-level coaching experience in Japan and different places. And so, you know, we would, instead of just all these set drills and we would still ran some drills, but he, he had all these different games, like small side of games that helped you become a better player. And you know, it just, and he had ways to motivate. And I know not, not every player necessarily have the same experience that I did, but I just found the year before, when I played, it was just basically just scrimmage. And if you’re on the starting six you’re on that side and you got a different approach, and if you weren’t in the starting six, whereas this coach, he was just like, no, I want to develop everybody. I want everyone to be better at what they’re doing.


Douglas Gleddie (20:21):
And, and he was setting up plays and he was teaching us new things and there is a sense of fun. And so yeah, I took a lot on of his instruction. And then I had, you know, I had some, some you know, other T like a chemistry teacher and English teacher in high school who had just, again, more looking back, I just recognized, no, I had an English teacher in grade 10, and I don’t know if people still read death on the, the classic Canadian story of, of sealing outside of Newfoundland and stuff, but she was looking for what’s the big theme. What’s the, and I basically wrote a whole paper saying, it’s just a book. Like, it’s just a book. It doesn’t have to teach it. But as I was writing at events, I came around, well, okay, fine. There’s themes. And, and she really challenged me in a good way.


Douglas Gleddie (21:09):
Right? Like she could have just given me a zero on the paper and said, you didn’t do what I asked, but she said she actually engaged with me and went through and that’s good. Right. I had a chemistry teacher who chemistry, biology teacher who kind of made things real. And it’s interesting. I went back and told him, so he he’s actually directly responsible for me being able to, to save a couple of people’s lives, which is kind of crazy. And I was actually when I was in group. So he told us a story and in a grade 12 biology class about carbon monoxide poisoning and how, when they were on a road trip with the school and not in those days, kids could drive their own vehicles and go to school events. And, and there was a couple of kids who they had the exhaust was leaking into the car and they started to fall asleep.


Douglas Gleddie (22:03):
And so he was saying to us, well, you know, someone has carbon monoxide point and you cannot let them fall asleep. You got to get them out in fresh air. You got to get them breathing. You got to get moving. So, you know, probably eight, nine years later, maybe not quite five, six years later when I was on a, a boat trip across lake Titicaca in between Bolivia and Peru. And it’s a big lake, it’s one of the highest navigable lakes in the world and the boat, we are on the diesel fumes. It was a stormy stormy afternoon. And the diesel fumes are coming in the, in the cabin when we pulled into port. And I spent most of the time outside in the rain, cause I didn’t want to breathe the fumes. And we came in and one lady from France was completely passed out and her son was going in and out. And so I knew what to do B because of this teacher. And so I got them outside and literally with the young man, I just, I really just slapped the hell out of him because I had to keep him awake.


Douglas Gleddie (23:07):
And then for the, for the woman, like she she was completely out she had locked up her jobs, so I couldn’t give her multimode. I had to give her mouth, the nose to kind of keep her in oxygen. And then we had to there’s no ambulance is there. So we had to call basically called a cab and took a cab to the hospital. And I was trying to remember all my high school, French. And but anyways, by the time we left, she was, she was sitting up on oxygen. She was healthy and thankful, and I hope she didn’t have any damage. But so yeah, there’s, there’s some, but just the fact that this teacher was trying to be real with us and trying to share, not just, this is what carbon monoxide poisoning is and you know, the carbon oxide of fixes to your red blood cells. So that oxygen can’t. And I mean, he taught that stuff too, but he also talked to rural applications. So that was pretty cool.


Sam Demma (24:02):
Have you already written a book or are you going to what? The Frick dude, like these stories are crazy. Find this 50 degree weather with sheep and saving some lives.


Douglas Gleddie (24:15):
Yeah. I’ve had a good, I’ve had a good life. I’ve had a good life.


Sam Demma (24:19):
It’s cool, man. It’s cool. Well, that’s awesome. I love it. Real world application is always something that inspired me in class. Cause it made me feel like I could use the things I learned right away. Maybe not in that case, but some point in your future, you could use the thing passion to, it sounds like this teacher was someone who was passionate about what he was talking about. And when I think back to the educators that made the biggest impact on me, it was the passion that really spoke through.


Douglas Gleddie (24:46):
And I, and I think they, the teachers that have the most impact, you can tell that they enjoy what they do. Right. And they also enjoy the people they work with, which includes students. Like when I was teaching too, there’s always a few people in the school I’m going, why are you here? Like you clearly don’t like kids, you clearly don’t like the subject that you’re teaching. So why are you here? And even when I had student teachers, I would just tell them, listen, if you’re passionate about teaching or your subject area, just like you said, you’ve got that passion for it. And you enjoy working with kids. There is no better job in the world as far as I’m concerned. However, if you don’t and you’re just here because you think it’s good benefits, it’s a decent salary for the education level. You like the summers off, you know what, honestly get the hell out. Cause we don’t need you here and we’re going to be blunt, but that’s, we’ve got better things to do. And these are, these are young people’s lives that you’re messing with.


Sam Demma (25:44):
Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more. I think there’s, there’s a lot of other careers where you could be mindless and just show up and do the work and go home and it doesn’t have an impact on others. Yeah. Education is definitely not one of them. And especially when it comes down to the things we say, you know, kids look up to their elders and teachers most of the time and you tell a kid something like it might stick with them for the rest of their life, you know and, and affect them either positively or negatively. So, yeah, I totally agree.


Douglas Gleddie (26:14):
Although on that note, you never know what might stick. Cause I a number of years ago I met with a former student who we had reconnected on Facebook and, and so we went out for coffee and, and it was great. And he’s now a teacher actually in a, I think a very, a very good teacher. But I taught him in grade 7, 8, 9. And so he’s like, oh Mr. Gladney like, it’s so good to connect it to you. And he goes, I’ll always remember that one lesson that you taught us. And I was like, well, less than is that Never order a messy down there on the first date.


Sam Demma (26:54):
What’s the story. Can you share the story real quick?


Douglas Gleddie (26:57):
Yeah. So it’s like, I’m like, well, thanks that I’m glad you got one thing out of tire. Well, so what I, what I did, I was teaching grade nine, social studies and I used to run a virtual stock market. And so I give each of the kids a hundred, a hundred thousand dollars and they had to invest. And it was a, it was this website that was actually pulled numbers from the Toronto stock exchange and it kept track. And so I made a bet with my classes. I said, whoever can earn more money than me in this three months, time span with your a hundred thousand dollars, I’ll buy you lunch. And so it was these three, these three boys they all earned more than I did. And so I took him out for lunch and we went to this local dinner tour. And at first, you know, their typical junior high, you’re like, I’ll get a small something with this. I’m like, guys, I’m buying your lunch, get the jumble don’t air. They’re like all in. And then we’re eating these things and there’s mess everywhere. And that’s when I, I said, well, word of advice, guys, never order, you know, a big message in there on a first date.


Sam Demma (28:03):
Was so funny, man. That’s awesome. That’s funny. That’s, it’s, it’s true sometimes. Depending on what that person needs, maybe that person just needed a humor that day. Right. And like something to lighten the load. Like I sometimes I’ll do a speech and what I think is so important, someone else comes out to me and says, oh, and you said this, it was so important. And I was like, I don’t even like, think that’s an important thing, you know? And I think that’s also really important to remember every everything we say matters. Awesome. And so you’ve worked in a range of different school environments different settings. Explain a little bit about where you are now and what the job entails.


Douglas Gleddie (28:44):
Yeah. So I’ve been at university of Alberta and the faculty of education now for nine years. I think it’s sorry. I’m in my ninth year, I guess it would be more accurate. And I’m currently an associate Dean of graduate studies in the faculty. So I’m doing more admin than teaching which it’s been an interesting journey doing administration. And I do enjoy aspects of more leadership than administration, but I do miss the teaching. So I haven’t taught undergrads for a couple of years. I’ve been teaching grad students and I do love teaching grad students because we have a program. We have a health and phys ed master’s cohort program, which every few years we take in a new group of 24 students. And that is fantastic. It’s so rewarding. But yeah, so you know, we’re going through lots of change right now.


Douglas Gleddie (29:37):
So there’s, there’s budget cuts, there’s program changes there’s institutional. So it’s dealing with that stuff, but, but change management is very interesting. Just to see, you know, who’s, who’s okay with taking a risk moving forward and who wants to just stay comfortable. And the fact is we’ve been forced out of comfortable from because of the budgets and stuff like that. But I do really enjoy working with grad students. For example, I just, I just had one of my PhD students just successfully defended her dissertation on Tuesday morning. So that’s super exciting. And she’s got a wonderful career ahead of her. So that’s give a little shout out to Dr. Harden Krieger as of freshly minted, but yeah, I think, I mean, a university is a unique place and as a, as a teacher there is a lot of education that goes on there.


Douglas Gleddie (30:32):
It’s, there’s a lot of flexibility and there’s a lot of opportunity to try new things. So like this master’s cohort, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It took us about five years to get it up and running. But once we did now, it’s very successful. I’ve got some great colleagues that I work alongside that help out and, and share the load and bring their own expertise, passion, and innovation to the program. And so that’s, you know, good work with good people is, is really, that’s kinda my kryptonite. It’s hard to say no to


Sam Demma (31:05):
Awesome love that. Cool. And what do you think are some opportunities right now in education? Like I know COVID has changed things a lot. It’s given us tons of challenges, but I think along with all challenges or some little opportunities here and there, curious if you have some of that.


Douglas Gleddie (31:21):
I think you know, I kinda, I kind of get annoyed when people are like, well, what was the silver lining of? COVID like, well, there’s no silver lining. A lot of people died. A lot of people got sick and it really sucked for the last 18 months. But at the same time, like you said, we definitely learned something, right. So I think we, we learned that or were reminded maybe I always liked one of my favorite mark Twain quotes, and he’s got a lot of good ones, but never let school stand in the way of a good education. That’s a rough paraphrase, but school is just one way to get educated. You know, there are so many different places to get educated. And I think for post-secondary institutions, we’re learning that we can’t just sit back and say, Hey everyone, this is where it’s at.


Douglas Gleddie (32:09):
You need to come to us. We need to be out there, but we need to be innovative. We need to be reaching people where they are providing what they need. That doesn’t mean we give up on theory. It doesn’t mean we give up on the idea of a university in the idea of a university is to share ideas and discuss and debate. So I think that’s one way you know, even with our health and phys ed cohort, we, we recognize early on that the way to bring people in is to not have them all come to campus all the time. So we do a summer, we do like two consecutive summers where you come for two weeks and it is important that we connect face to face and then the rest is online, but they’ve created those relationships. So, you know, the fact that you can, you can interact and create pretty deep relationships with people without being in the same room. Now I still think ultimately face-to-face is where it’s at. And you have to get there eventually. But, so I think that, I think we’re going to see a lot of post-secondary programs that are pushed to innovate and the ones that don’t, they’re going to fall behind.


Sam Demma (33:16):
Got it. Cool. Awesome. And you know, I can’t remember how many years you said you’ve been teaching 29, 25?


Douglas Gleddie (33:23):
I think 25


Sam Demma (33:24):
Okay. And this is, might be a tough question, but if you took all the experience and knowledge you have now through the past, you know, two decades of teaching and you could give some advice to your first year younger self when you were just getting into the job, like knowing what you know now, what would you tell that first year Doug?


Douglas Gleddie (33:50):
Well, I think the consistent thing all the way through is that like teaching what’s like life, it’s all about relationships. So if you don’t care about relationships, the rest of the rest falls behind. And I think the biggest piece of advice is it’s not about you because as a young teacher, like I remember going on the gym and shooting around and, and you know, I used to play a lot of basketball and, and I’m, I’m pretty tall and I used to be able to jump. And so, you know, I go in there and I’d be like, I’d be like Dunkin on kids and stuff. And I’m like, yeah, I just dumped on a 14 year old look how good I am. That’s part of that’s just because I was young and part of it too, you’re insecure and you’re trying to cement your place into things. But I often tell my, my student teachers right now, as you may tell, I like a lot of quotes and a lot of different things, but there’s a, there’s a Soundgarden line. You know, be yourself, it’s all that you can do or it’s all that you can be. And so that’s really, you have to be yourself. And if you’re your honest, authentic self, and you’re also reflective and you’re relational, I think you’ll go far.


Sam Demma (35:06):
Cool. This has been a great conversation. Thank you so much for sharing some of your experiences and stories. And if someone’s listening is been inspired by anything and just wants to connect, what would be the best way for them to reach out to you and get in touch?


Douglas Gleddie (35:20):
Hmm. Well, probably I’m the only social media I’m on at the moment is Twitter. So I think I’m, I don’t even know what my handle is. Yeah. I think it’s d_ bloody pretty original. My email is dgleddie@ualberta.ca. Chances are nowadays, you can just Google stuff and you’ll find people I’m fine with emails to connect up. That works for me. Awesome. I also really appreciate the work you’re doing Sam in terms of this, like, podcasts are so great. Like I’m a huge podcast fan. I listened to a wide variety when I’m working out or just walking or biking to work or whatever. And there’s so many, you know, you asked about the way like institutions change and education changes. Like I write peer reviewed papers and there’s an important piece for that. But if it never gets into the hands of teachers or into the hands of people who can use it, it doesn’t go anywhere. So to do things like this, podcasts, blogs, talking to teachers, book clubs, whatever it is, that’s where it’s at. Yeah.


Sam Demma (36:29):
I appreciate that. I appreciate it. And I hope it continues to reach more educators so they can learn about everything we talked about. And I think I’ve interviewed like 120 people now, selfishly, I’m learning a lot. And I think everyone’s getting to learn from each other. It’s like free peer to peer personal development


Douglas Gleddie (36:48):
Now. So I’ve got a question for you. If that’s allowed?


Sam Demma (36:52):
Sure, we’re still live.


Douglas Gleddie (36:56):
It’s not an embarrassing question. So you’re, you know, you’re interviewing all these folks and you’re looking at education and you’re doing this. What’s your, what’s your plan moving forward. Are you, are you going to go into more formal education? Are you like, I think you’re educating people now. But what’s your, what’s your immediate then maybe longterm plan.


Sam Demma (37:14):
It’s funny. You mentioned never letting school get in the way of education. I’m someone that believes that, that as well, there’s so many ways to get educated, educated and informed. I actually went to university for two months. I’m a student to take a gap year. A fifth year, went to school, realized that it wasn’t what I wanted and then dropped out and coming from a European family, my parents immediately were like, what the heck are you doing? You know, it’s talking about us laughing that kid inside the head when you were in Cambodia on the boat. You know, I got, I got some math, a couple of times metaphorically. And I told my parents, I want to speak to kids. I have stories that I think would inspire them to follow their dreams, to be servant leaders, to give back. And I just started doing that at the age of 19 and I found a youth speaking university and I went and I, I flew to California.


Sam Demma (38:06):
I flew to Vancouver. I bought these programs found a coach, hired a coach kinda like dove in. And so all the work I’m doing is catered towards helping young people and youth realize the importance of their own potential and possibilities. And then also along that line, understanding that life isn’t all about you, but you have to also give back and be a good human being. So like, what’s, what’s the future right now. I’m actually working on a spoken word album and I won’t share it live, but after we hit the stop recording, I’ll, I’ll share it with you. And I’m also working on a book called dear high school. Me, which much of life lessons for students from someone not far removed from school. So I’ll get into formal education. I’m not sure I will continue doing the stuff I’m doing now, but just try and do more.


Douglas Gleddie (38:55):
Yeah. And just know, I don’t ask that question out of a, “you should really do formal education” because I do think we push, we push kids to university too much for some it’s absolutely the right place to be. Right. But like I said, there’s so many different places to learn. There’s so many opportunities to grow and develop. And so I think it’s really cool to see what


Sam Demma (39:17):
I appreciate that. And I, I love the question and I’m, I’m very cautious about giving other young people advice, because again, it’s not like it depends on where you want to go. Right. It’s like if I wanted to be a doctor engineer or a teacher, like you have to take certain paths. So yeah, I appreciate the question. And again, this has been an honor. Thank you so much for coming on the show, keep up the great work and we’ll talk soon.


Douglas Gleddie (39:39):
Yeah. Likewise. Thanks for having me.


Sam Demma (39:41):
And there you have it. Another amazing guest and amazing interview on the high performing educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating and review. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you 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 sign up to join the exclusive network. You 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.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Douglas Gleddie

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.