About Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock
Janessa (@JanessaNevill) and Hailey (@haileycorinne13) are two extremely passionate educators from a small rural school in Alberta – Ecole Plamondon School. We met at a teachers convention and I thought it was very fitting that we bring them on the podcast today to share a little bit about their stories in education.
Connect with Janessa: Email | Twitter
Connect with Hailey: Email | Instagram | Twitter
Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.
Ecole Plamondon School Website
Napanee District Secondary School Website
Education Programs at Brock University
The Great Gingerbread House Project
**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 (00:01):
Hailey, Janesa. Thank you so much for coming on the High Performing Educator Podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show. It’s actually the first time that I’ve had two people on the same interview. So you’re like breaking a Guinness world record here. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself, both of you and sharing how you got into education.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (00:20):
Awesome. Thank you so much, Sam, for having us. We’re really excited to be here. Actually one of the things we’re excited to talk about is how teaching kind of brought us together as friends too, but I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m Hailey Babcock. I’m originally from Ontario. I did my teaching degree at Brock university and then I moved out here to Alberta and I’m now teaching high school English.
Sam Demma (00:41):
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (00:43):
Hi I’m Janessa. I’m sorry, I’m nervous. As you can tell. I teach junior high currently, but I’ve been teaching everything; I’ve taught from grades one to grade nine and all subjects. And I just, you know, got into this work because I just wanted to make a difference and I wanted to be a role model for young people. Also. I, I just totally loved going to school and I wanted to do it forever.
Sam Demma (01:10):
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (01:12):
Job for me. Yeah, I just love to share my love learning with others. So
Sam Demma (01:16):
Love that. So good. That’s so cool. I remember the first podcast I ever did. I was freaking nervous. So I’m with you on that one and you’re not alone with educators. So many people that I’ve interviewed are, are nervous and, and nerves really all they mean is that you care, right. If, if you’re not nervous to do something, then you probably should stop doing it. So I appreciate you for stepping outta your comfort zone and pushing yourself. So how did teaching actually bring you you together though? I don’t actually know the story yet. And I’m curious to hear.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (01:46):
Yeah. So when I moved out here to Alberta, I started my job at a cold school and I met Janessa and at the time I was just, you know, crazy busy trying to figure out my first year of teaching, which is a blur. I’m sure most teachers can feel that. But we just, you know, throw the years we started talking a little bit more, we both teach French as a second language. So we kind of collaborated a little bit together, came up with some ideas and eventually we just ended up hanging out all the time and becoming best friends.
Sam Demma (02:15):
That’s so cool. That’s awesome. That’s amazing. And along your journey in teaching, you’ve both been doing it for a while now. I’m sure are things have changed. Things are a little different these days. What are some of the challenges that you’re currently faced with and how are you striving to try and overcome them?
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (02:32):
Yeah, absolutely. So obviously this year is quite different. It’s also quite different from last year as well. Just because, you know, last year when we were still trying to figure out how to teach online with go it was a little bit different now we kind of have the hang of it a little bit more and we are actually very lucky at our school for the most part. We are in the building, which is fantastic. Nice. But no cases so far, so far. That’s
Sam Demma (02:55):
That’s good. That’s good.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (02:57):
That’s awesome. But yeah, we just realized that you know, the restrictions are you know, pretty difficult for the kids to remember, you know, putting face masks on sanitizing, hands, that kind of stuff. We also noticed there’s been some frequent absenteeism. So whenever a student, you know, has a sore throat, they can’t come in for 10 to 14 days. So that also makes it quite difficult. And the other big thing I think for me is just having like less interactions, less, it just doesn’t feel as welcoming, you know, like we really are trying to push that, but all of these boundaries and restrictions have really put a damper on mental health. I would say for students and staff. Definitely.
Sam Demma (03:33):
Yeah. Well, so relatable. I, I wholeheartedly agree you anything to add there or facing the very similar of their challenges.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (03:40):
Very similar. Yeah. I mean, just like the biggest difficulty for me is there’s less opportunities for meaningful hands on and fun kind of interactive things we can do just cause of restrictions. Like I teach math and I love to cook with the kids and I love
Sam Demma (03:55):
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (03:56):
Yeah. And I love to do hands on. Like HandsOn is very important like that. There’s lots of sanitizing, lots of protocols involved and it’s hard. So
Sam Demma (04:06):
I’m curious, how do you integrate cooking into math? You just like, you just peak my curiosity and I feel like it’s something interesting you could share.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (04:15):
I, if you, like, when I taught grade, well, I’ve taught grade 6, 7, 8 math in the last few years actually to the same group of kids, I’ve just followed them.
Sam Demma (04:23):
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (04:24):
So in grade six we did gingerbread houses. So we you know, manipulated recipes with with equivalent fractions and things like that. Okay. You know, obviously the gingerbread, we built houses and we talked about area and perimeter and then they just had fun and decorated it.
Sam Demma (04:41):
And that’s so cool. I remember that was fun. I remember being in elementary school, thinking to myself that math was the most boring subject, but I didn’t have a teacher who helped us build gingerbread house to teach us areas, area perimeter. So that’s really cool. I like that. Thanks for sharing. Yeah,
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (04:58):
I know. Oh, sorry. I know ju we fractions with like M and Ms. That different colors and stuff too. Super cool. Sensitive fractions of like you know, Skittles and smart use and things like that. Or I could actually do that this year. Cause I would just give them like their whole pack of Skittles and I didn’t have to touch it. So that was good. But like I missed being able to make pizzas for fractions. I like pizza.
Sam Demma (05:21):
I like, you always see the pizzas in the math books, like cut up and use as examples, but you’re taking it to a whole new level making a real pizza. So I love that. Yeah, but I think it’s really cool that what brought us together was the teacher convention. And I’m curious to know, like, is that something that you guys always look forward to every single year and, and what did you learn from it? Did you take anything that you found really helpful that you might want to share with the audience?
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (05:46):
Me personally this year, I found it was phenomenal mainly just because it was just a little different, you know, we didn’t have to drive up to Edmonton. You know, we got to stay at our homes and whatnot, but I also found that the variety was a little bit different this year. I was kind of excited to see. There was a lot of like motivational speakers, a lot of individuals who have you know, excelled in like the amazing race and all that kind of stuff. Just all these different challenges. And so it was really awesome to see all of these people who have overcome so much kind of talk about what they’ve done and how it’s helped them with COVID. So I don’t, I thought it was really good this year, too.
Sam Demma (06:25):
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (06:26):
We kinda tended to go to a lot of the, the motivational speaker type things. I saw a lot of that and it was, it was good. It was like, I don’t know. It was, it was nice despite, you know, given we’ve had such a challenging year, it was nice to just hear some really good stories. So, and we got to spend the whole time together, so it’s great.
Sam Demma (06:42):
Yeah. And, and we met each other, you know, it was now we’re on this podcast because of it. No, that’s awesome. That’s so cool. I know it’s, it’s difficult to teach right now because a lot of your colleagues, like some people that you might see across the province right now, you may see them for like two years. Right. And I don’t know about you, but I’m a hands and I’m a hugging person. And I like to like, you know, give high fives and hugs and say hi to my friends and family and not being able to do that is sometimes difficult. And I would argue not only with colleagues, but also with students, you know, giving a kid a pat on the back or a high five is such a huge way to show them that your support, how do you think we can still make students feel, you know, heard, seen, and appreciated that during this challenging time? Is it just about checking in on them virtually or what can we do to still replicate that feeling?
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (07:30):
Absolutely. well, one of the things that genes and I talk about a lot is just humanizing ourselves, you know, allowing students to know that it’s okay to make mistakes. You know, we all go through challenges in our lives. And even just the whole idea of just being there for them and letting them know that yeah, we have, you know, mental health concerns too, that we go through as well and just reminding them that they’re not alone. And the one thing that I have noticed that kind of gave me a lot of hope when everything kind of started with COVID was seeing how much the kids still relied and needed those interactions. So even though they weren’t able to high five, their friends and they couldn’t sit right next to them, you could totally tell how happy they were just to be back together. And after summer, like, it was just amazing to see the kids kind of find a way through the restrictions to still, you know, be themselves and to still be excited to be here.
Sam Demma (08:24):
Amazing. Oh, I love that. And Janese, you’re saying elbows now. Everyone’s elbows tapping
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (08:30):
Elbows, air hugs. Yeah. Air fists, fist bumps, air hugs. Yeah.
Sam Demma (08:38):
I guess I guess we’re bringing rock, rock paper scissors back. Yeah. Because everyone can play that right now. That’s awesome. Exactly. Very cool. And over the, over the careers you’ve both had in teaching, I’m sure you’ve seen student transformations. Now, every educator I talk to says, you know, one of the reasons that they love teaching is because you have the impact to influence a young person’s mind that could eventually change their life. And you know, you can’t solely say that one person’s responsible for changing a student’s life. Like they have to take the action, but you can influence their thoughts and actions, which is such a powerful responsibility. And sometimes you don’t see the impact for 20 years. Sometimes you see it the next morning. It just, you, you never really know how it’s gonna show up. And I’m curious to know in both of your careers, have you witnessed any student transformations that have been really inspiring to you? And the reason I’m asking is because someone else might be listening, thinking, wow, like I feel really burnt out. I forget why I’m even in teaching. I don’t even know why I’m doing this anymore. Maybe I’m gonna quit soon. And sometimes hearing a story of transformation might spark someone’s passion or remind them why they got into this. And if it’s a serious story, you know, you can name the student, Bob or Sarah, totally change the name just to keep it private.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (09:54):
Yeah, absolutely. There was one near the beginning of the year that I really started talking about there’s this one individual will name him, Tom. Tom, I started teaching him in grade nine and he was just very, you know, came from a difficult home. You could tell that I don’t know how else to say this. There was a lot of like negativity in the home, a lot of like racial slurs, homophobia, all that kind of stuff. And this individual had just a lot of problems with like anger management, dealing with his emotions, not really being able to connect to his peers well and not understanding how to regulate, you know, when he is angry and whatnot. So for the first like year or two, him and I would just completely butt heads. And he’s also one of those students who, who likes to be left alone unless he has questions.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (10:39):
And I’m one of those teachers who likes to check in on everybody. So we definitely butt heads quite often. Yeah. Often we had, you know, our difficulties multiple times sitting down with myself and him and the principal, just trying to figure things out. And he was online for the first two months, this year for online teaching. And then when he came back in November completely different kid, I swear. It was absolutely amazing to see he came back completely respectful. He would come in and like compliment us. He talked to me about how he, he didn’t realize how how much of an influence I was in terms of like English teaching and that kind of stuff. And he even said that, you know, he missed seeing my face every day and that’s one of the reasons he was coming back. You know, just seeing that transformation was fantastic. He completely changed his mindset. He’s growing up up, and he’s also recognizing the individuals in his life who have kind of pushed him into that perspective. And I’ve seen him thank multiple teachers in the school. Like it’s, it’s beautiful to see really
Sam Demma (11:33):
That’s so cool. That’s so awesome. Ands. How about yourself?
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (11:37):
Well, I have a, sort of a unique role at my school. I actually only teach like less than half of the time. But I I am this, we call it the student services team coordinator here. Nice. So I I guess deal with inclusive ed needs and you know, referrals and I coach and mentor students and teachers and ensure, you know, accommodations are in place for kids who need it and all that kind of stuff. Nice. So I get to work with like, we have, we’re a K to 12 school, so I get to work with everybody. So it’s, it’s awesome. Like some days I’m in kindergarten and then I will be in grade eight and then later on I will grade four and nice. And because I only teach such a small bit, it makes scheduling weird. So every year I literally, I teach something different every year. It’s like, whatever there is needed to be taught it’s mine just because it’s like, so as a, as a result, I actually like the current class I taught I’m teaching right now. I, I taught them in grade one grade, two grade, six grade seven grade eight, and I’ll probably go with them to grade nine.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (12:39):
So yeah, I I’ve seen the growth and the change cause I’ve been there, the whole journey kind of thing. And it it’s cool. Cause my first year here I taught grade six. And then a few years ago that class graduated and they asked me to BDMC for their, so it was just like, okay, really cool to grow up. And just the people that they become. I love it. I don’t know if I’d go anywhere else. I, I have it pretty good in the house.
Sam Demma (13:10):
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (13:15):
So nervous for that too. So
Sam Demma (13:17):
No, that’s so good. I love that. No, that’s amazing. And I have to ask when you were both students, did you have teachers in your life who had a huge impact on you that kind of inspired you to get into teaching? And if you remember their names, which most people do who were they, so you can all or them, but then also share what was it that they did that had such an impact on you so that other educators can try and replicate that for their own students?
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (13:44):
Absolutely. well, one of the things that I find when I speak with teachers is I feel like they’re usually one of two types of teachers, usually they’re the, you know, straight a students loved school, came back to teach school or they didn’t necessarily have a great schooling experience. And I was kind of on the latter side, I didn’t really like school. I didn’t have have good grades, you know, I didn’t have a lot of friends. And then when I got to grade seven, I had a teacher named Manam Kelly. I don’t remember her first name, unfortunately, but she, she slowly kind of explained to me that, you know, like I, I have potential and I need to push myself and you know, I am loved and cared for. So we kind of got a good relationship there. I started, you know, being more confident in myself, but then it wasn’t really until grade 11 that I found my true passion, which is English language and writing, you know, poetry, short stories.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (14:35):
And that came directly a creative writing course. I had a grade 11 teacher. Her name was Shalene Kelsey. She is still, I believe working at NDSS in nap Ontario. And she I’m sure she remembers, but she was a part-time guidance counselor and part-time English teacher. And I was pretty much wherever she was. She loved quotes. She loved you know, digging deeper into words and I just connected with her and I meshed with that and I realized that, you know, writing and reading is something that I’m good at and that I like doing. And I kind of push myself further and my confidence just blossomed. So she’s big on the, and now I teach high school English, so
Sam Demma (15:13):
Yeah. That’s awesome. Very cool. That Janessa, how about yourself?
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (15:17):
Yeah, for sure. My favorite teacher, I guess I would say I had a few of them in high school. I was really into my math and science and except for physics. I didn’t like physics cuz it’s hard. So my physics teacher’s name was Mr. Dick or is Mr. Dick he’s still around? Yeah, he he was awesome. He, I was that kid that would show up early cause my mom was a teacher she’d dropped me off at the school when she would go to school and I would go straight to him and be like, Hey, help me with physics. Like every day. And now I’m like, oh man, I was that kid that showed up every day. Like if, if I had kid, you know, when I’m trying to prep in the morning and get my coffee, like if I had a kid show up every day and I’m like, help me with my work. I don’t know, man. So I was that person and he did and he got me through it and got me through the diploma. And it’s interesting now though, cuz my colleague and friend is I carpool with her every day is his wife. We together now.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (16:14):
Mr. Dick still teaches at J Williams in Laish that’s where I was born and raised and I still live here. And so we still could see each other at, you know, a division conferences and stuff. Sometimes we hang out in social groups, so I’m friends with him now. So it’s, it’s cool. It, it, it’s neat living in a small town and keeping those connections, I guess still trying to figure out that small town life. Yeah. Yeah. It’s good though. But he kind of inspired me to go. I actually, I wasn’t gonna be a teacher at first. I wanted to actually be a pharmacist and in the end I’m so glad I’m not, cuz that would be really boring. But I, yeah, he and my other, my chem and my bio teacher inspired me to go to school for science. So I do have a bachelor of science first and then education. I kind of fell on when pharmacy didn’t work out, which thank goodness. But yeah, so
Sam Demma (17:08):
That’s awesome. Very cool. Yeah. And if you had to narrow it down to something, both of you, something your teacher did specifically that had a huge impact on you, what would that specific thing be? Was it that they were willing to help? Was it that they always looked out for you? Like what did they do specifically
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (17:27):
For me? I think it was the fact that Shelene just recognized that we come to school with our own problems. You don’t as necessarily know what goes on in student lives. So she, she was one of the only teachers that really truly, you know, checked in every day to see how I was doing. She knew when my basketball games were, she knew, you know, if stuff was going on at home with mom and dad, like it was just that willing to connect, willing to understand at being on that same level. You know? And I think that’s one of the things that I try to focus on as a teacher is doing the same thing for my students is allowing them to know that there is someone there on their level who, who really cares about them, wants to hear about them. If students ask me to go to hockey game, I’ll go, you know, and I think that’s really those relationships, those connections. That’s what she gave to me.
Sam Demma (18:12):
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (18:13):
I could just say the same. Yeah. Just, they just made me feel welcome and you know, they wanted me to be there. They wanted me to be successful and yeah.
Sam Demma (18:22):
Awesome. Really super
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (18:24):
Appreciative that, and
Sam Demma (18:25):
That sounds, that sounds great. And now you have a reason both to view, to reach out to those teachers and say, Hey, I mentioned your name on this podcast. You should check it out and you’ll probably make both of their days.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (18:38):
Funny enough, Shalene, Kelsey just added me on Instagram yesterday, so woo.
Sam Demma (18:43):
That’s awesome. So good. So if you could travel back in time and speak to your younger self when you just started teaching and like in part advice, knowing what you know now and all the wisdom you’ve gained over the past, you know, how many years you’ve been teaching, what would you tell your younger self? What advice would you have given to first year Hailey and first year Janessa?
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (19:06):
Well, I think mine might be a little different cause I’m only in here four here, so still pretty, pretty new, but that’s okay. I would definitely say just, just trust yourself, trust your instincts. It’s okay to not feel okay. Reach out when you need it. And my big thing as well is obviously it’s really important to have all aspects of your teaching abilities, very strong, but again, number one is relationships. That’s what I would say to myself is just make, make those relationships, those connections with the kids and then move forward with the teaching.
Sam Demma (19:37):
Awesome. Love that.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (19:40):
She said relationships, connection. That’s that’s it for me basically. Well, that’s not it, but you know, yeah. It’s very important.
Sam Demma (19:49):
I love it. Okay, cool. Awesome. And if someone wants to reach out to you and we can group you two together, I guess. If someone wants to reach out to both of you, what would be the best way to get ahold of you? Should they email? Like what email can we give the audience to reach out to you if another educator’s listening and they’re like, we wanna get in touch with you and ask a question or have a conversation.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (20:09):
Absolutely. I think we can both probably just give our school emails then. It’s just email@example.com
Sam Demma (20:19):
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (20:22):
And I’m firstname.lastname@example.org. Do I need to spell it?
Sam Demma (20:27):
Spell it. Yeah, you can spell it if you want to.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (20:30):
Sam Demma (20:38):
All right. Perfect. Sounds good. And thank you both so much from the bottom of my heart for coming on this show, I look forward to staying in touch and seeing all the amazing things you both do. Janessa, if you ever cook in any more pizza or making some gingerbread houses, I’ll send you my mailing address and you can trip it over here. But anyways, thank you guys so much. I really appreciate it. It’s been a great conversation.
Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock (21:01):
Yeah. Thank you. It’s been awesome. Getting to know you and yeah, hopefully we can discuss further as we continue on our educational journey.
Sam Demma (21:08):
Join the Educator Network & Connect with Janessa Nevill and Hailey Babcock
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.