Dave Barrett – Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) Coordinator for the Bluewater District School Board and the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board

Dave Barrett - Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) Coordinator for the Bluewater District School Board and the Bruce Grey Catholic District School Board
About Dave Barrett

Dave Barrett is the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) Coordinator for the Bluewater District School Board and the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board. OYAP is a School to Work program that opens the door for students to explore and work in apprenticeship occupations starting in Grade 11 or Grade 12 through Cooperative Education, events and community partnerships.

Prior to Dave’s work with OYAP, he was the Project Manager for the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) for 12 years and worked in many different sectors and industries over his career.

Connect with Dave: Email | Linkedin | Instagram

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)

Pathways to Apprenticeship (Skills Ontario)

What is Co-operative Education?

The Transcript

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

Sam Demma (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today’s guest on the podcast is Dave Barrett. Dave is the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program Coordinator for the Bluewater District School Board and the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board. OYAP is a school to work program that opens the doors for students to explore and work in apprenticeship occupations starting in grade 11 or grade 12 through cooperative education events and community partnerships. Prior to Dave’s work with OYAP he was a project manager for the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, SEDC for 12 years, and worked in many different sectors and industries over his career. I hope you enjoy this conversation and get a new perspective on future career planning for students with Dave.

Sam Demma (01:28):
Dave, welcome to the High Performing Educator podcast. Huge pleasure to have you on the show here with us. Please start by introducing yourself and sharing a little bit about what you do!

Dave Barrett (01:40):
All right. My name is Dave Barrett. I’m the Ontario youth apprenticeship program coordinator for two school boards both Bruce Grey, Catholic district school board and the Bluewater district school board. So we, I cover all of gray and Bruce counties, which is slightly bigger than the province of prince Edward island. And my job is to encourage students to explore the pathway of apprenticeship through co-op education and the great career opportunities in the skilled trades.

Sam Demma (02:05):
What got you into this work? Why OYAP and why are you the person doing it?

Dave Barrett (02:11):
That’s an interesting question because if you looked at my resume, I’m really not qualified to be doing what I’m doing. However in my previous career I worked in economic development and workforce development was a big piece of that. And it was one of the areas where we’d hear all the time that students weren’t participating in these great career opportunities and not exploring the skilled trades. Well, when I took on this role, I found out many were, but we, we opened up more opportunities for them to do it and tried them in different ways. And then through my role in my community contacts, we’ve created all kinds of, of different events for students to come and try it. It doesn’t matter if they’re on the academic college workplace or apprenticeship pathway, if you don’t try it, how can you know, if this is the career for you?

Dave Barrett (02:55):
So that was where sort of my, my role, my expertise, and my background brought to this. And we’ve just continued to raise the numbers of the number of students who are exploring. I don’t think the skilled trades are for everybody, but I also don’t think university is. And I also don’t think colleges, and sometimes you gotta work for a couple years to figure things out all are great pathways. I just wanna make sure people understand the skill old trades before they start thinking that this isn’t the career for them. Cuz there’s some great opportunities here.

Sam Demma (03:24):
I couldn’t agree more. I think every pathway is a valid option. Every student learner is different. You know, my dad is someone who works in skilled trades and half of my family works in skilled trades and it’s a, it’s a great way to make a living. And if you love building things and working with, and why not?

Dave Barrett (03:42):
The what, but if you never tried it before, when you were in elementary school, how can you, how can you know? Well, I don’t want to take tech when I get to high school. Yeah. So that’s, that’s kind of the, the stuff that we work towards

Sam Demma (03:52):
Now, did you grow up working with your hands and very involved in labor and you know, the trades yourself?

Dave Barrett (04:00):
I’ve had a varied background, so I I’m very upfront with students when I do my my OYAP presentation. Cool. And what I talk about is I’m somebody who gets bored after about seven to 10 years of doing anything . So I did work in construction and started an apprenticeship. And then I worked for a cabinet maker for about five years we were talking, we were, I was on the apprenticeship pathway and thought, you know what? I really don’t wanna do this. Then I bounced around. I got into healthcare and I was actually back in the day, they called them orderly, but I was a PSW in a nursing home, still the best job I ever had, but you know, moved on, did college pathway, cuz I wanted to do other things I worked in for a while. I was actually responsible for apprentices at an auto body shop for a number of years that I managed.

Dave Barrett (04:46):
And then I went into community economic development. So I used the university pathway to get my certifications there. And now I’m an OYAP coordinator and you know, that’s what we talk to students is whatever, whatever pathway you decide now you’re not locked in, you know, use the tool. And I, I, what I try and equate is the pathways are actually just tools. Use the tool when you need the tool. So if you need to do an apprenticeship, do an apprenticeship. If you go, you know what? I think I’m smarter than these engineers then great use the tool of university, go become an engineer and show them and move on in your career.

Sam Demma (05:19):
And how do you think a teacher who is, is not, you know, promoting OYAP and keep in mind, there might be educators listening as well. They’re outside of Ontario. So keep, how would you suggest a teacher promote different pathway opportunities, including the skilled trades to their students?

Dave Barrett (05:38):
I, what I encourage, I talk to my teachers about is I have no expecta that they would understand the skilled traits if they didn’t have family connection to them. Yeah. So use your experts. You know, Mo all teachers pretty well had followed the university pathway. They know it very well. They’re gonna promote it cuz it’s worked well for them. But contact your OYAP coordinator, your tech teachers your community partners and have them come in, cuz they’re the experts in this field. And, and that’s, that’s what we do here is my guidance folks, my student, success, people, careers, teachers all know who I am. They know how to reach me and I’ll come in and present the apprenticeship pathway for them and help them with activities. And then they’re the ones that I send the invitations to come to our hands on events and different events to hear different perspectives, women in skilled trades, indigenous youth in the skilled trades, you know we’ve got a nuclear power plant in our backyard that everybody wants to go work for. How do they get in there? Well, bring them here to say, here’s how you do it. You know, those types of things and use your use your local experts. People who consider, you know, expect teachers to know everything, baloney. They know what they know and their, and what their pathway took. Them, use your experts and, and locally we do pretty well with that. I think.

Sam Demma (06:54):
Yeah, I think you’re so right. Everyone goes into their job or their situation and most of their beliefs are based on their own past experiences. So if you know you

Dave Barrett (07:04):
Past experiences and perceptions. Yeah. And it’s, it’s funny cuz I actually start, I, I started it years ago, but I started my presentation with, I’m not here to recruit you to apprenticeship. I’m here to, to make sure you understand it before you start. Aren’t listening to people who haven’t got a clue, what they’re talking about. and then once we get into it, all of a sudden they’re going, oh, I had no idea the number of teachers that go, why didn’t I do this? You know, it it’s, it’s fascinating. But it’s just one of those things where there’s all these perceptions and I just spend all my time knocking them down so that when a student student hears it from somebody, they go, no, no, that’s not how it is. I do know this. So, and that, that’s how we’re breaking down those barriers. I

Sam Demma (07:45):
Love that. You can see here, no one can see this who’s listening, but there’s a little empty upside down backpack on top of my hat. And , I, I have this belief that every person in life has an invisible bag strapped to their back and is filled with all those perspectives and past experiences that shape their beliefs. And you kind of carry those things with you. And you know, oftentimes sometimes people put things in there that shouldn’t be in there and that could be, you know, perspectives that hold you back or limit you. And you know, if you don’t stop to remove the things that were never yours to begin with, they start to become weights that weigh you down. And I think it’s just a, a cool, a way to put into perspective what you’re saying. It’s like we have to empty our backpacks and be opens to perspectives.

Dave Barrett (08:25):
Sam. I love that. I, I think that’s brilliant. I’m actually gonna steal it from you. I’m really big on R and D Rob and duplicate. Nice. I love that cuz that’s exactly what happens. And I, I see it too often. I got into a a discussion with a student who was certain, he wasn’t allowed to go into the skilled trades because he was on the university pathway. He said, no, no I’m only allowed to go to university, but he truly believed that. So then we have to talk about, and that was a perception that he was carrying in that backpack that you talked about, that we needed to say, here’s the real information. And here are the opportunities for you. We’re not saying don’t go to university. We’re saying all of the pathways are open to you. It’s up to you to figure out what’s gonna get you to where you want to go next.

Sam Demma (09:06):
Love it. Absolutely love it. And if you were to try and con you know, not convince, but trying to educate students about the upper opportunity that exists in, in the trades, like how do you paint them that picture? You know, go ahead and paint that picture now.

Dave Barrett (09:20):
Oh, I’m gonna give you the two minute version then. All right. So the first thing I talk about is in the skilled trades is the money. So when you become a registered apprentice, you have to be paid. There’s no free apprenticeships. So you have to be paid in a block release situation. You’re going to be paid for about a year. Then you’re gonna get a letter in the mail that letter’s gonna say, it’s time for you to go to trade school. Most trade schools are at community colleges. You’re gonna pick the college that you wanna go to. So if aunt milli lives in Ottawa, you can say, I want to go to the Ottawa college that offers my program, cuz I can live with aunt milli for nothing perfect. You don’t apply the ministry of labor training and skills development phones. The college buys your seat and pays 90% of your tuition.

Dave Barrett (10:04):
Most apprentices pay about $500 whenever they go to trade school, wow, you finish trade school. You go back to work. The interesting part is, before you go to trade school, you’ve been working for a year. You qualify for employment insurance. So right before to go to trade school, you and your employer will go to the employment office. Your employer will lay you off. You get fast tracked onto employment insurance. So you get paid while you’re going to trade school. And if you need it, there’s living allowance. There’s mileage allowance and there’s childcare allowance. If you have to put kids in daycare in order for you to attend, this is usually the part where I see parents elbowing their students going. You should look at this. So this is the way apprenticeship works. Block release. There’s some other ones where you can continue to work. And then you go to school in the evenings.

Dave Barrett (10:50):
And one Saturday, a month, my nephew did one where he worked the first three, four weeks of the month. And then the last week of every month, he went to Trey aid school. So there’s variations, but most of them are like that. So this is an opportunity for students to get in. And if you read the papers and the statistics, there is a skilled trade shortage and this isn’t just Ontario, Canada, north America. This is a worldwide issue. So if you wanna stay local in the skilled trades, you can, if you wanna, and locally, you can do that. If you wanna see your country, you can do your skilled trades and your ticket can get you across the country. If you wanna go international, skilled trades can get you there as well. So it opens all kinds of doors. And again, it’s one tool. And the argument that I always talk to students about is if you wanna argue with me on smarts, wages knowledge, and you think someone with a university degree is better than someone that has a college diploma is better than somebody that has a, a journey person license.

Dave Barrett (11:48):
I can win the argument in every direction, whether you wanna talk on wage. I know people from university with university degrees that are the smartest people that I know. And I know people with university degrees that are like talking to a bag of hammers. well, it’s the same in the skilled trades. Yeah. I know skilled trades people. Yes. They didn’t go to university, but they’re some of the smartest people you’ve ever and they’ve put in the time to really know their craft and they make all kinds of money and they love what they do. And that’s what I talk to students about is don’t go into this for the money. Don’t go into it just cuz I’m talking to you like that, go into it because you have a passion for it. And if you ask me which one I should get into, I’m gonna correspond right back and say, what do you wanna try next? Cause if you spark an arc and go welding it let’s talk. If you spark an art and go, I hate this. Perfect. Now, you know, don’t become a welder. Let’s go try something else until you figure it out. So there’s my two minute pitch for the skilled trades.

Sam Demma (12:45):
I love it. I love it. Right. It’s the idea that generalizations aren’t okay. It’s like, you know, there are people in the trades who are brilliant. There are also people in the trades who Aren, there are people in university who are brilliant and there’s people in university who are brilliant. exactly.

Dave Barrett (12:58):
No, but it’s perceptions, right? It is. And, and it’s this hierarchy that we’ve somehow built for ourselves. And, and I, I disagree with it and it’s really fun to disprove that I don’t have to pick on anybody, but it’s very easy when we talk salaries, when we taught knowledge. One of the things I just added two years ago to my presentation is science, technology engineering and mathematics. Stem is huge in education right now. Well stem, the skilled trades is where stem hits the road. Cause if you don’t understand OMS law and boils law, you’re not gonna do well in the skilled trades, particularly in welding and electrical engineers are the ones that draw the drawings who takes those drawings and actually builds them skilled trades people. They have to understand engineering, mathematics, PHA, and theorem. Oh, they used to throw that on the chalkboard.

Dave Barrett (13:46):
And I go, oh, when am I ever gonna use this in my life? Become a carpenter. That’s how you square wall 3, 4, 5, come on man. That’s and it’s just making those connections that you can actually do it. So that’s, you know, mathematics, perimeters volumes just had a friend of mine complaining about the, they had to completely redo their plumbing cuz their plumber couldn’t do the math. It’s important that you know these things and it’s not for somebody that doesn’t do well in the classroom. They have to understand what they’re getting into. And one, they have the passion, the math, the engineering, the science technology all makes sense. That’s awesome. Plus we use really cool equipment in the skill trades like

Sam Demma (14:24):
Yep. I’ve heard stories even in my own high school of kids repairing a teacher’s car and then getting to drive around the block. And that? Not that this is what happens

Dave Barrett (14:32):
Everywhere. No, they, oh no, that never happens. But yeah, exactly. You know, and the in it’s really cool. Like I looked, I visited a training center locally and they had what were called dark rooms and inside the dark rooms were mill rights and boiler makers who were operating robots inside nuclear vaults, I’m going and they had to be skilled trades people in order to do this. So you’re using the coolest equipment and their supervisors were flying drones around to do the inspections. I mean, what a great, you know, so gaming skills when mom and dad said, Hey, your gaming skills will never Mount to anything, get into the skilled trades. You might just find out they will

Sam Demma (15:08):
Buy some drones.

Dave Barrett (15:09):
exactly fly drones, working robots, real ones. Yeah. It’s kind of cool.

Sam Demma (15:13):
So how did you get into this position? Tell me more about your journey through education yourself. So

Dave Barrett (15:19):
I like, as I said, I was I was working in community economic development and I did, you know, again, I got bored after I was there for 12 years, but I started to do a lot of work with my, a local school boards. So the person who was in the Ontario youth apprenticeship program position was retiring and I’d done a lot of work with her and she said, you should apply for my job. And I’m going look at my resume. There is no way, but I applied anyway. And I had worked with some of the people that were on the hiring team and they said, yeah, let’s take a shot. And that’s worked out really well. So I’m actually not a teacher. Mm-Hmm I come to the position from industry, but I’ve worked in the auto industry, construction industry. I, you know, did some work in manufacturing.

Dave Barrett (16:03):
So all of these things culminated in my position and I think it’s, I’ve got a passion for it. And again, you talk about percept, you come into it and I hear this kids today, baloney kids, they are more engaged. They’re they’re the same as I was when I was there. They just look funny. I look funny to the generation ahead of me. Yeah. They look funny to me, but talking with them and especially when they get a passion for culinary, we run a culinary program. It’s fun to talk to them cuz they know, know their craft and they can’t wait to get into the industry. And that’s, that’s what I love about this position.

Sam Demma (16:37):
Someone recently told me experience comes from age is, you know, is not true. It’s experience comes from experience. And I would also argue experience. Doesn’t also come from a paper, you know, sometimes it comes from experience and you know exactly the fact that you’ve worked in all the different, like various, you know, industries in the field that are the same fields that these kids are gonna get into, gives you the opportunity to give people a very clear picture of each and every one of them. Right. Exactly. And

Dave Barrett (17:05):
That’s it. I bring that, that perspective to it that I didn’t, I couldn’t read in a book or I lived it. So I, I can honestly say here’s what I experienced and here’s how I overcame it, whether I needed to overcome it or not. And, and I, I do think that is valuable. It’s, it’s interesting because in my presentation I actually took that piece out about my, my pathway and all the teachers said, put it back in. That’s the part where the kids went, this guy’s credible. Yeah. So I, I talk about my own faults, my own indecisions, my own bad decisions and my own good decisions. And, and through that they go, okay. Yeah. I, he still, he looks like he’s doing all right. And he’s still living his life. So carry on. Exactly.

Sam Demma (17:47):
Yeah. That’s awesome. And how do you approach a student who is in class and is, or who’s coming to you and, and telling you Dave? I have absolutely no idea what I wanna do with my life. like, I feel like that’s a common conversation you probably have with students.

Dave Barrett (18:02):
And it’s, I, I go back to what I said or what do you wanna try next? So have you been to my events? Have you tried? And, and if some of the things that we’ve created with our local partners is I shops are expensive to run. So they’re only in our high schools. So elementary students don’t have a chance to be exposed to them, but we live in a day and age where technology rules. So I’ve got welding simulators, I’ve got an excavator simulator, I’ve got all kinds of dexterity challenges. I’ve got robots and things like that, that we take into the elementary schools and we let those students try these things. And what I find cool about that is you see students who are, you know, not the athlete, not the academic, all of a sudden excelling in their grade seven, eight class.

Dave Barrett (18:47):
And they’re going, how, how do you know how to do that? Because they’re the hands on learners that have been building stuff since they were four, but this gives them the chance to try it. And once they try it, then we start having the conversations about what parts of, of skilled trades do you like. And, and that’s how we sort of build that model. So when I have the conversation with students, it it’s more around, okay, how can I help you try some of these things? So I’ve, I’ve had, you know, you’re right. I, not long ago I had a student who wasn’t sure if you wanted to be a carpenter or a chef and I’m kind of going, okay, we have some work to do here, cuz that’s pretty diverse. Yeah. but let’s, let’s talk about trying stuff. And what is it you like about this and what is like about that?

Dave Barrett (19:32):
And then we built them from there and they’re actually in my level one cook program right now. Cause they that’s awesome. They kind of decide. And I said, at the end of it, if you, if you hate the level one cook program, you get the end of the day going, this isn’t for me. Perfect. Now, you know, didn’t cost you dime. You’re just gonna be stuck cooking Easter dinner and Thanksgiving for the rest of your life. But other than that, you can go become a carpenter. Now, you know, that’s it’s you got some great skills.

Sam Demma (19:56):
I, I try and here’s another thing you can Rob, maybe an analogy but I, I, I think of it like career search, like a buffet, right? You go to a buffet and you, you walk around, you take a little bit of everything they have to offer and you go sit down, you eat some of it. And certain foods you hate and you don’t grab that ever again. And other foods you end up loving and you know, you keep going back for those. And it’s like the same with trades, the same with jobs, any anything in life. It’s like, you figure out what you love doing, not by theory, but by doing the thing, you know,

Dave Barrett (20:28):
Consider that stolen. I love that’s you’re you nailed it. That’s a, exactly what it is, is keep trying stuff. And I, and I talked to the students that way. I said, your job is the students to try everything you can in the next four to five years, that’s your job. And then from there, you’ll sort of maybe figure it out and be honest. When you, when I talk about my career pathway, I was probably close to 30 before I kind of nailed it. Yep. Cause I’d done construction. I’d done healthcare. I’d done manufacturing. I’d done. These other things went, eh, no, no. Yeah. And then all of a sudden I got into community stuff and I went, Hmm, this makes sense to me. And then workforce development and guiding people to, to careers and helping my community grow. And I went, yeah, I really like this. And then that’s, that’s where I went from there. But it took a while to get there. Remind me, don’t be afraid of

Sam Demma (21:15):
That. Remind me how many years you’ve been in the OYAP position, helping students, you know, figure out different pathways.

Dave Barrett (21:21):
I just started my 10th year.

Sam Demma (21:24):
If you could go back to year one, knowing what, you know, being in this role for 10 years, what would you have told year, Dave?

Dave Barrett (21:31):
Honestly I would’ve said try more stuff, make more mistakes. Mm. Keep trying, keep trying I, some of the programs that came that we’re doing now that are really successful, I really wish I would’ve started them earlier. And a lot of them came from just doing so a good example. We had, we had young women’s events where I would get a couple schools. We’d, you know, they’d pick young women to get on a bus and we’d take them to different industries just to see what they were like. And I thought, well, geez, aren’t I hero? I had 40 young ladies on a bus and we took them into the auto industry, the agricultural industry and these different ones. We talk skilled trades. And then my colleague said, well, why don’t we just do this at their high schools? And that way they can all come.

Dave Barrett (22:18):
Geez. That makes sense. So we started doing young women’s nights where the students would come. We’d allow them to invite their favorite aunt, their mother, their, you know, best friend to come with them. And then we put them into the welding shop and then into the auto shop and we’d circulate them around. And all of a sudden we were having 80 and 90 young ladies trying to skill trades at nine of our high schools. And we’re going, okay, this is better. Well, that’s that kind of grew. But that only happened in the last, before the pandemic three years of the first five years, we weren’t doing it. So it’s stuff like that. Where I’m I like trying stuff. I don’t let the bureau bureaucracy get in the way. Let’s try it. We pilot it, make all of our mistakes and then run with it.

Sam Demma (23:03):
That’s awesome. Love that this has been a exciting conversation. It’s already been 25 minutes time flies in when you’re having a good chat. But if another educator is listening, wants to learn a little more about how they can encourage skill trades and their students, and wants to ask you a question, what would be the best way for them to reach out and get in touch with you?

Dave Barrett (23:22):
If you want to email me: dave_barrett@bwdsb.on.ca. Shoot me an email and I’ll respond. I’ll talk to anybody about skilled trades and events and share anything. I, I think these are great pathways. I don’t think they’re for everyone, but if you are interested in an event or how we do things more than happy to share.

Sam Demma (24:06):
Awesome, Dave. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Really appreciate it. Keep up with the awesome work and we’ll

Dave Barrett (24:10):
Talk soon. All right, Sam, thank you so much for the opportunity you take care too,

Sam Demma (24:14):
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 view. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you wanna meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network. You’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

Join the Educator Network & Connect with Dave

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Tracey Klinkhammer – Management Co-op at The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus

Tracey Klinkhammer - Management Co-op at The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus
About Tracey Klinkhammer

Inspiring students to succeed is what Tracey Klinkhammer aspires to in her role at the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Management Co-op Department. With a focus on helping students turn their abilities into exciting possibilities, Tracey leverages her diverse experience in sales, human resources and education to really partner with the students in the program to support their goals.

Starting with an engineering degree and completing an MBA with a co-op she knows firsthand the impact of integrated learning. She recognizes through her own journey how there are many pathways to get to where you want to go. Tracey believes in making a difference one student at a time.

Connect with Tracey: Email | Website | Linkedin

Listen Now

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

Resources Mentioned

The Dream Machine Tour

Alex Banayan: The Third Door (book)

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 (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the high performing educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker Sam Demma. Today’s special guest is Tracey Klinkhammer. Inspiring students to succeed is what Tracey aspires to do in her role at the University of Toronto Scarborough’s management co-op department with a focus on helping students turn their abilities into exciting possibilities. Tracey leverages her diverse experience in sales, human resources and education to really partner with the students in the programs to support their goals. Starting with an engineering degree and completing an MBA with a co-op, she knows firsthand the impact of integrated learning. She recognizes through her own journey, how there are many pathways to get to where you want to go. And Tracey believes in making a difference one student at a time.

Sam Demma (01:25):
This is a very refreshing and awesome human to human conversation, and I hope you enjoy it and take something valuable away from it. I will see you on the other side. Tracey, thank you so much for coming on 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 behind the reason why you got into education?

Tracey Klinkhammer (01:49):
Well, thank you first for having me, Sam, I’m super excited to be here. This is very fun for me. So it’s a long story. I’ll try to keep it short, but it starts with my own passion for learning. I think I was one of those kids in school couldn’t get enough. And I had really great teachers that fed that passion. And so I was always getting pulled into, you know, extra projects and so going into high school, I think I realized how much I benefited from people investing in me. And then I started getting into peer tutoring, which led me to realize I loved teaching. I loved helping. I loved seeing my friends progress past their math tests and I was really interested in being a math teacher. But at that time when I was applying to universities, my father sort of gave me the choice of taking a math degree at my local university, which is a great university or fleeing the nest.

Tracey Klinkhammer (02:40):
And I could go anywhere in Canada if I took engineering. And so that was a very it was an easy decision for me. And so he said it wouldn’t close any doors and it was, it’s a great degree. Engineering’s a great degree. Mm. But I didn’t wanna be an engineer, taught me a lot about problem solving and so on. And every year my dad would say, do you, how’s it going? No, I don’t wanna be an engineer. So the only door it did close though, was teachers college. Funny enough so I had to figure out, okay, so I can’t get into teachers college. What can I do? So I did what we did back then before phones and surfing, I turned to the smartest girl in my class and I said, what’s your plan? And she talked about doing her MBA and talked all about this thing called co-op, which I didn’t know about co-op at that time.

Tracey Klinkhammer (03:25):
And so, you know, walked over to the payphone. That’s dating myself and says people probably like payphone, who is those? And then I booked an interview and, and did my GMAT and got into the MBA program. Mm. So I, I didn’t quite get into formal education until five years ago when I did join U oft. Nice. But what I realized as I became an HR professional and I took some time off and did some training on the side, I realized I was always about people enablement. And so even, you know, if you, about what education is, it’s really about giving students the tools they need to be successful. And I took that mindset with my HR jobs. And then finally this opportunity because I ran recruitment programs across the country and I was in talent acquisition. And I, I realized the value of co-op. So then I brought people in and I started partnering with the ship Toronto Scarborough and realized it is an amazing program, amazing students, amazing people. And so for three years, I basically saw the value of co-op as we brought on students and then eventually transitioned to being part of their team. So that was a long story, but I’m currently at the university of Toronto and, and I work in the business program supporting students who are in co-op.

Sam Demma (04:45):
What, what prompted you to make the jump from HR job to UFT? Like, was there a defining moment in your story that you thought it’s time for me to move on from this? Or why did you decide to switch?

Tracey Klinkhammer (04:57):
I think I just got to a point in my career and I think this is a really important thing they always talk about with students. I think sometimes there’s a pressure to feel this, you know, what success looks like and to sort of follow a certain pathway and the pathway tends to be vertical. And so a lot of students, you know, when they look at definitions of success and they look at creating pathways for themselves and modeling, you know, other people, what they tend to see as vertical progression. And I think I just got to a point in my career where I, I really stopped and thought, you know, what’s really important to me. Why am I in this job? What do I wanna get out of working? And and the answer was really about making a difference. And so not that I, in my other job, I, I loved my job.

Tracey Klinkhammer (05:40):
I, I wanna say, you know, I loved working for the cup that I worked at. I just thought that I had a chance to really affect change one student at a time by, by getting into a university setting. So, and it really did feel full circle. It really did feel finely, you know, after all these years getting into a formal education setting, which I had talked about wanting to do when I was in high school. Mm-Hmm . And so it, what I didn’t also tell you is I did sales in between there too. So, you know, sales…

Sam Demma (06:09):
What did you sell?

Tracey Klinkhammer (06:10):
I, I sold, but don’t tell anybody I called my grandma. I like, oh my grandma. I said, grandma, I got my first job. And so, yes, I’m still in drugs. I worked for AstraZeneca, so, oh, wow. I did. And so I brought on because I couldn’t get an HR job because I didn’t have the experience. And so someone said, well, get a sales job, understand the products, understand the people. And then you’ll be able to support them in that HR function. But at the time that I got into and sales taught me a lot about, it’s funny, all my jobs gave me bits and pieces. That helped me be a good advisor, cuz that’s basically what my role is. It’s kind of advising. So sales taught me about listening and the importance of really understanding need and really, you know, under taking the time to gather requirements and really understand, you know, pain points and how you can really help someone through that. So I actually think sales experience hands down for anybody is a great fundamental experience. I think everybody should do sales at one point in their life.

Sam Demma (07:10):
Yeah, I agree. I agree. I have, I have a coach.

Tracey Klinkhammer (07:13):

Sam Demma (07:15):
so I have a coach and a mentor who spent half of his life selling surgical equipment and he is now a speaker and he’s been speaking for 25 years and he teaches me everything. He knows about sales and like that’s one of the most important things, but he helps shift my mindset from, you know, thinking about sales as selling to serving, like you’re mentioning about understanding people really on a deep level and what they actually need. And if you are, are the person to help them. And it’s, it’s so true. It’s, it’s so true. It’s funny that you mentioned that now it’s come full circle as you got into a classroom, because you mentioned that you were a student who always wanted more mm-hmm and it seems like your daughter is too, because you’re in her bedroom and behind you on the wall is a chalkboard . Yeah. Which is like that’s so cool. Like having a chalkboard in your bedroom. That’s amazing. What do you think led to you being that student that always wanted more? Did you have people in your life who stressed the importance of education? Was there teachers who played a fundamental role in your life?

Tracey Klinkhammer (08:12):
I think it was to be really honest. I think it was my parents. Yeah. particularly my mom, she didn’t have our access to higher ed. Okay. And I think, you know, growing up with her circumstance, I think she realized she, my parents are phenomenal have given me like their, you know, amazing role models. But I think for my parents, it was like when you go to university, not if it was always higher, ed was always part of our conversation. Now, funny enough, they never actually pressured me. It all came from me. I, I really drove myself. My parents were not those hovering parents. They never helped me with my, like, this is not a bad thing. This is a good thing. They didn’t help me with my homework. They didn’t check up on me. I was really motivated to, you know, manage my work, ask for more.

Tracey Klinkhammer (08:58):
They, they looked for opportunities and supported those opportunities when they came up and when, you know, teachers approached them and they were so supportive, but it really did come from me. And I, I think it was those teachers that took the time. Cuz now that I’m on the other side of it, I realized that the E easier thing for them to do, would’ve just been to do the basics mm-hmm . And I think about, you know, my grade six teacher going up, she knew I love language and she would create these special, extra you know, study guides for, you know, crazy words and how to use them. And I love that stuff. And I look back now and I think, oh my gosh, she did that all in our own time. And that’s, that was really early on. And even in grade one and two, I was taken out with seven other students and we stayed with the grade one class in grade two and we worked on special projects.

Tracey Klinkhammer (09:46):
And again, they were really that would’ve been like the easier thing to do. Would’ve just been to let us all kind of go with our cohort, but they kept us separate. And so early on I realized, you know, if you sort of demonstrate and, and show that passion, that you really can find people in your life that wanna feed that. And so definitely teachers have a, a big role to, to play in that. So, and in high school too, same, I could go there’s a lot, you know, that that’s that I realized. And I don’t, that’s what I don’t think people like, I always tell my kids cuz they’re in high school and one of them’s in grade eight and I always go back to those teachers that made a difference cuz I know the difference they’ve made cuz my, my kids are talking about them and I thought you have no idea how transformative your experience in the classroom was for my kid. And so I’ve really tried to instill in my children and for anybody that’s listening, you know, it’s a great thing to do. Gratitude is huge. It’s a really, it’s an easy gift to give it’s free and it’s a, a great way to give back. Now I feel like I have to go back and call my grade six teacher I feel like I have to go back and tell my grade one grade, two teachers. You know, thank you. Thank you.

Sam Demma (10:53):
Well, I appreciate you sharing that because you know the educators that are listening to us right now, it’s also a reminder to them to note that sometimes students don’t tell you these things. No that you’re, you know, you could be making a huge difference, but not hear about it for 30 years. And no it’s important to, to understand that that doesn’t mean you’re not making an impact. The impact is still there. It just might take a while for you to see the F roots of it. Or you may never see it, but know it exists. And I just think that’s important to stress as well, because you know, you know, maybe the student didn’t have someone like yourself telling them, you know, be grateful and tell your teachers, you appreciate them, but the students really do. And I I’m sure you even see that in your role at U F T you know, like I’m, I’m sure when you give advice to students you, you help help them find the answers to questions that they have not by telling them what to do, but by helping them explore themselves, I’m sure they’re super grateful.

Sam Demma (11:47):
Do you have any stories of, of students at UTSC that, that you know, you keep, you keep in the forefront of your mind maybe when you’re feeling a little down or you know, a little beaten up?

Tracey Klinkhammer (11:57):
Well, this has been a rough year. I will tell you this year has made, you know, has been made better. I work. This is one of the best programs in the country. Yeah. I am so proud to work at U oft and I love the students that I work with and they’re their teachers. I’m always learning from them. And for me, I don’t do it for the gratitude truthfully, like that’s, that’s a bonus. And what, what really moves me is when I actually see them achieve their goal mm-hmm and help them figure out what that is like, what you were talking about. It’s really unlocking their pathways. I think every young person when they’re sort of embarking, and this is the time of year now where students are ex accepting their college and university applications and thinking about what’s next for them. And I always think it’s really important to understand how fluid those, those goals can be.

Tracey Klinkhammer (12:45):
And, you know, helping a student understand through reflection and through their own growth and learning, you know, to really tie into what’s important to them and understand, and it can change along the way. So the best part of my job is being with the students. That’s what I love about working with the business program, cuz I’m with them from the beginning to when they graduate. And that change is so amazing. Cuz some students come, they have a plan, they execute on the plan. That’s great. They graduate. And that all went to plan. There are some people who had a plan and the plan is not what they I’m sure I can see you. Right? Yeah. I think more students feel like you do Sam, but that’s not how I thought my plan was gonna go. Yeah. And so that’s a really cool thing to be a part of too, because then I, you know, then I’m more, that’s back to the consulting thing and the advising, which is about listening and themselves reflect and figure it out.

Tracey Klinkhammer (13:36):
And cuz I think they ultimately know where they wanna go. It’s having the confidence and the, the belief in themselves to do it, especially when they’ve experienced some failure because news, flash, you know, everybody at some point we have a lot of great students and I always tell them it’s for, for a lot of students, they real, haven’t experienced a lot of failure in their life and that first experience can be really painful. And and there’s a number of ways students react to it. I think they, this is gonna sound weird, but I think it’s such a great thing. I think it’s such a great teacher. And resiliency is one of the most important things. I think a young person can learn and help successful through their, their time.

Sam Demma (14:18):
So a student comes to the office, crying that they failed something like how do you, how do you deal with that? Like what kind of, I guess what kind of, what kind of questions would you ask to help them find their own answers?

Tracey Klinkhammer (14:30):
Well, I, I think first it’s starting with kind of empathy and compassion, right? Yeah. Like acknowledging the feelings. And I think that’s the thing, I’m a super positive person, but I think the students have come to realize that I’m good with all the emotions. You know, your, your university college life is gonna take you through a wide range of experiences. Some of them are gonna be really positive. Sadly, I’ve been with students that have experienced tremendous loss. And that, that, that comes in all sorts of different experiences and that’s hard. Cuz you’re seeing student experience that. And I think for me it’s more about understanding where they are in that moment and what they need in that moment. And then, you know, I work at a school world, it’s got lots of great resources to help support students depending on, you know, what’s happening. But I think the big one is just kind of being with them and saying, I’m sorry, and I hear you and not trying to problem solve.

Sam Demma (15:24):
Sometimes people just go straight to the questions.

Tracey Klinkhammer (15:26):
Yeah. I don’t sort of whip out my checklist and you know because everybody’s different. And also when I have a relationship with the student, when I’ve known them for a few years, you can really tell if someone’s, you know, kind of the majority of your interactions have been a certain way. And then you see this change, you realize this is an important moment and I try to make space and time. And I think the biggest thing and the most challenging thing is being really present because obviously I have a family we’re in the middle of a pandemic. I think I, I think to really be effective in education, I think you have to really focus on how are you really present with that student in that moment? So they know that you ha you’re, they’re heard and that they’re supported. Does that make sense?

Sam Demma (16:08):
Yeah, of course. It’s, you know, it’s letting them speak what they have to speak and, and understanding what their situation is and almost being like a best friend, like, right. Like that’s what it kind of sounds like at the end of the day.

Tracey Klinkhammer (16:22):
No, I like to draw some boundaries, you know, of course yeah. Like I’m a nine to five here to there. Yeah. And you know, they’ve got lots of friends. I think what I am though is I think I am someone, you know, given my experience, given my role, I am someone where they know that they they’re not alone, that they can that. So there is a place to sort of help cuz you know, whether it’s related to job seeking or academic performance or maybe there’s something personally in their life, knowing who to reach out to things are gonna happen in your life. And I think what I want the ’em to know is I can’t solve your problems, but I can definitely be here to support you and connect you with the people that can like I’m not a counselor. Yeah. I’m not a, you know, like I, we, we have these great people that help support and I’m as much as I’m obviously friendly with them, we have lots of laughs and we’re fun, but there is there is that I think it’s about trust. I think what you’re getting to, when you talk about is, you know, they get to a point, I think they, they really know that I care and when someone cares, you’re more apt to share and build trust with that. So that’s what I try to do. I try to show I lead with caring. That’s kind of hopefully that’s how they perceive it, but yeah.

Sam Demma (17:32):
Cool. Yeah. I love that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. I was getting at the idea that like, they feel like you’re a friend, not that they’re talking to you like 24 or seven or anything, but you know, like they’re

Tracey Klinkhammer (17:42):
Not hitting me up on you know, not, not texting each other, like, you know yeah. Boundaries, Sam boundaries…

Sam Demma (17:49):
Right. yeah, it makes, it makes total sense. And you know, what types of challenges are you faced with this year? I know it’s different, it’s very different. So like what does it look like? How have things changed?

Tracey Klinkhammer (18:01):
Well, let me ask you that. How are you, what kind of challenges are you?

Sam Demma (18:04):
Well I mean, I almost quit speaking back in may. And that’s when I met this guy who became my coach named Chris. Like I, it’s funny, it followed the whole classical heroes journey. I went on an adventure and COVID hit and then I found a mentor and his name was Chris. And then I had trials and tribulations and I almost quit and here we are now, but at, it was, it was terrible. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know if I could keep doing this. Then he started shifting my belief system to understand that this could also be the greatest opportunity because people need this sort of inspiration and motivation and just positivity now more than ever.

Tracey Klinkhammer (18:46):
Chris. I like it. I like Chris. He has a good attitude about he’s cool. So it’s the same thing. I think we’ve all had to pivot. I, you know, what I hear from you Sam is that you were thrown a huge curve ball, which basically the pandemic has for everyone, like for our students, for our staff, you know, I work with a really great team and we’re used to working with each other and seeing each other on campus. I miss them. I feel, you know, it’s isolating working in my basement is not my favourite. Sam, it’s cold down there. I had to buy warm socks and like I got a heated blanket for my birthday or for. But you know, and I miss that I think what I miss the most and what I find the most challenging is how organic everything was, all those connections with students and, you know, being on campus think students sort of, you know, available to pop in and, you know, I work in the business building, so you’d see them when you’re walking around the building, there was so much information that was exchanged that I was a lot better able to sort of keep up with what was going on here, information.

Tracey Klinkhammer (19:47):
And I think the, the, the biggest challenge has been how intentionally need to be when you’re online. And I miss the casualness of just being in a workplace where, you know, you enjoy the company of your colleagues, you enjoy the, the students that you work with. And so I think that’s been the biggest challenge. And I think all the students are feeling a little bit of isolation, right? Like it’s, so some students are living their best life. They like this online thing. I would say the majority are anxious to come back to, to to school and for our co-op students for a lot of them, you know, they’ve done work terms where they were in the workplace and now they’re transitioning to having to learn how to navigate the world of work online. And so that comes with its own set of challenges and, you know, supporting our students through that.

Tracey Klinkhammer (20:31):
So what I love about my team though, is I work with someone who inspires me. He’s you know, one of my, one of my, my manager, Phil, I’ll give him a shout out. He’s always thinking about new ways of doing things. And and I think that’s where you have to go to just like how you talked about, you know, where, what can you do? How can you respond to this in a different way? I think we’ve asked ourselves that as a department and we, you know, we ask that of the students too, when they’re looking at managing through that. So yeah, it’s been a tough year for everybody.

Sam Demma (21:02):
Yeah. That’s great. And I, I agree. It’s a, it’s a weird different year. And I think, you know, I find too, if we focus on the negative too long, we’re always gonna find the negative. And if we try and focus on the positive, no matter how small we can, can grab a hold of it and figure out some other things that can happen because of it. There’s a quote. I love that, you know, without dirt, you can’t plant a seed or, you know, this guy, Charlie rocket always says Santa delivered presence, not in the light, but in dark . And I was like, ah, you know, this little analogy just to remind us that when there isn’t a, a tough situation or something to overcome that there’s also some form of an opportunity hidden in there somewhere. The problem is often sometimes a part of the solution in some way, shape or form.

Tracey Klinkhammer (21:41):
Yeah. And I think that’s what I always tell students too, like lessons that you learn sometimes aren’t wrapped, you know, on your analogy of the gay ifs. They’re not always wrapped in pretty paper. Yeah. sometimes those lessons and you don’t realize that they are actually a gift. So you get these lessons at the time when you’re in it, it might feel really overwhelming and it’s hard to reflect in the moment, but I’ve seen a lot of students that when they look back on those experiences, they realize how important, how impactful they were to where they ended up getting to. But in that moment, it can, it doesn’t feel, it doesn’t always feel like a gift when you’re learning that lesson. That’s not wrapped in the prettiest of papers. You know what I mean? Yeah.

Sam Demma (22:18):
I’m with you. And you mentioned Phil, Phil’s been an inspiration back to Phil for one second. Like what is it that Phil’s done that’s inspired you or you know, motivated you. And I asked the question just because I feel like in our, all of our lives, there are teachers and motivators. Like I can mention people that inspire me. I already mentioned Chris, my coach mm-hmm what is it about Phil that kind of inspires you? I think

Tracey Klinkhammer (22:40):
Phil is just, he’s fantastic. I mean, he’s worked at the university for maybe, I don’t know if he’s gonna get mad, but 15 years, maybe I’m adding up. And I’ve, I’ve worked at UT for five years. What I, what I really appreciate about Phil is he inspires me because he’s always looking to be better for himself and for our students, like he puts our students first. He’s always, I don’t know how he manages to read so much. He listens to a million podcasts. I think he reminds me of the people that I had in my life early on that were always feeding my need to learn and to grow. And so he’s always, you know, flipping me and our team, you know, articles he’s come across and he’s really helped me see the value of that investment in yourself. Cuz sometimes you get really busy as an educator and you realize, so, oh, I have to keep learning.

Tracey Klinkhammer (23:31):
Like I, here I am teaching. And I’m, you know, a lot of my work you know, we, we help our first year students, we teach a course in terms of getting them ready for jobs, but we do a lot of one-on-one counseling. And I think sometimes you get into the, you know, the, the, you know, the kind of the day in day out of your job and you forget that you’ve gotta take that time to invest in yourself. And he’s always reminding me that that’s important. And working with someone in an educational setting that puts students first that, you know, values innovation and new ideas. It’s great. Like, I, I, I, I hope that everybody gets to work with someone like that. So yeah.

Sam Demma (24:08):
And if you could, you know, go back in time not that it’s too far, we’re not gonna date you but if you could…

Tracey Klinkhammer (24:16):
I did talk about my payphone, Sam.

Sam Demma (24:17):
I did talk. That’s why I’m, I’m like, I’m trying to save you here, but it’s too late. if we did go back in time, you know, to Fred Flintstones. Yeah. Yeah. If, if we went back in time to the first year that you, you did this sort of work in education, like knowing what you know now, what advice would you give younger Tracey?

Tracey Klinkhammer (24:36):
Oh my gosh. I would give my younger Tracey, like this year has been tough because I think in this role of caring, you know, you real again, and being present, I didn’t realize the impact of COVID on like of the pandemic on me personally and, and just, you know, working on my own and not having the team to re-energize me. I, I would’ve told myself earlier, make sure you, you take care of yourself a little more, more intentionally. I think it was that, that was it. Aside from that, I, I think, you know, and I probably would’ve put more time earlier and, and I still do it, but just, I forgot how much I love reading and, you know, kind of keeping recharged and connected. So I think those two things is just more about self care and and filling the, filling my bucket so I can fill others. So, yeah.

Sam Demma (25:32):
Oh, cool. I agree. Those are great. Those are great pieces.

Tracey Klinkhammer (25:35):
Would you go back and say, if you could tell yourself before you got on your journey, I’m always curious, what would you do?

Sam Demma (25:39):
Well, unfortunately, there wasn’t any payphone , but I would tell myself two and invest in Tesla for sure. totally joking. If I could go back in time to when I was 17 and going through some tough experiences, I would remind myself that my self worth as a human being, isn’t attached to things that I do that I’m innately, you know, worth just as much as every other human being, just by the fact that I’m here and I’m born mm-hmm I would tell myself that I’m a competitor and I operate best when I challenge myself and it doesn’t have to be in a linear fashion, meaning always soccer as it used to be when I was younger, it could be in any way, shape or form, whether it’s a challenge to run a marathon or to push myself mentally in a specific way or to take a new yoga practice on or something. I would tell myself to, to ask myself how I can use my gifts and talents to serve others and to help others. Cause I feel at my best as well when I’m serving or in some form of service mm-hmm I’ll tell myself to not hate reading throughout high school.

Tracey Klinkhammer (26:45):
Maybe it’s important. I tell my kids to read every day. Reading is so important. They listen to like, you know, they, they underestimate the power of reading, like the, it is important. Okay. What else? Sorry. I’m I’m on your train. I got really onto that one.

Sam Demma (26:57):
Well, I’m sorry. I’m like spitting out 15 different things here. I know you’re making me feel like I gotta go by.

Tracey Klinkhammer (27:01):
I can revisit. What would I tell myself five years ago?

Sam Demma (27:05):
well, you got me on, you got me on the spot too. And I’m like, I dunno.

Tracey Klinkhammer (27:10):
Know what, but what I like though, what I heard about you is it’s all that self-reflection piece. Right? And I think that, and that’s the part where I really, you know, want our students to get to is just about figuring out where your gifts are, where your’re are and really looking inward. I think a lot of students want, and I think, you know, you may have felt that same pressure to look about, you know, look to your left, look to your right and see what other people are doing. It takes a lot of courage to sort of look inward and dis you know, kind of discover for yourself. You know, you talked about you as a competitor and creating a space for yourself where you can leverage that at strength, the yours, and a lot of students spend a lot of time on what they’re not good at, instead of just saying, Hey, what am I good at? And let’s, you know, let’s grow with that. Let’s, you know, nobody’s gonna be great at everything, but figuring out how to really leverage your own strengths and keep moving. So, yeah.

Sam Demma (27:59):
And there’s times where I’ll put myself in a situation where I know I’m not good at something to try and, you know, build this skill mm-hmm , but in certain, you know, certain moments when I’m down or when things aren’t going well, I wanna put myself in a position where I feel at my best, so I can get back to my best mm-hmm . And for me, that’s running or pushing myself physically, but that’s just for me. And I think for everyone, it’s totally different. Like you said, mm-hmm you mentioned reading and I know you love reading. So would you mind sharing a couple of sources or things you’ve read that you think are valuable?

Tracey Klinkhammer (28:28):
Well, thanks for asking Sam. I think I tell I really should get a commission for this cuz the number of people I have reading this book and I know you’ve read the book, you know what I’m gonna say? I do know the third door, not the, and I do not work for Alex, but everybody should read the, I think it, it, it goes for students, it goes for educators. It goes for really anybody in life. It’s a story of resiliency and and it, and it’s applicable in a business context in your own personal life. Would you say, would you say that’s a solid book recommendation?

Sam Demma (29:02):
A hundred percent. In fact, I just, I just have another third door experience. Maybe I can share real quick.

Tracey Klinkhammer (29:08):
I love thethird door. I always, cuz that was basically my life for people that are listening. The third door analogy is essentially a story about what happens when you encounter obstacles. And it’s this young guy who’s in med school who wants to figure out what makes famous people successful. And he, you know, kind of sells a won’t well, you gotta read the book to know, but basically the analogy comes up with is if you can’t, you know, successful people, if they can’t get in the main door of a club or the VIP entrance, they find a third way in. And so I think, you know, when I think about my own life, okay. Wanted to be a teacher, you know, one of the obstacles was obviously my parents were foot in the bill. Okay. I’ll go to engineering, couldn’t get into teachers college. Okay. Do an MBA, got into people enablement, which was ultimately what teaching was and then found a way back to education. So I think eventually I feel like I am where I belong. It’s taken me to get here. I absolutely love my job. I love the people I work with. I love the students. So the third door is a, is a good teacher. And I love that. Now tell me about your third door experience. Tell me about it.

Sam Demma (30:12):
So I’ve been reaching out to people in very unique ways over the past couple of years because of that book and because of things that I’ve been exposed to by mentors as, and colleagues more recently though, there’s this gentleman named Charlie rocket, who’s in the us right now, driving around on, on an RV called the dream machine and he’s making people’s dreams come true. And he’s building like amazing communities all throughout the states and he’s just, he speaks in schools and he does this, these, these dream machine drops like Hasbro gave them five, $500,000 and they give a whole city filled with children, free toys on Christmas that couldn’t afford it. Like there’s, it’s so cool. The work they’re doing and his story’s crazy. Like he managed, he managed a huge rapper named two chains and after seven years became 300 pounds and had a brain tumor and he was gonna die.

Sam Demma (30:58):
And he left his work in the music industry to become an iron man. And in a year he lost 160 pounds and completed this race, which is crazy to think about in the same year that he almost died and had a brain tumor reversed the brain tumor and now is doing all this work. And so I, I think it to myself, wow. What I, what I think I have to offer could really compliment what they’re doing in the states. And so I’ve reached out like 12 times and just not getting it anywhere. I haven’t got in touch with him. He hasn’t got back to me and I finally said, I’m gonna do this. Like, I’m gonna figure this out no matter what it takes. There’s another door here that I’m gonna enter. And I ended up networking with all the people in his, in his Instagram following. And I, I came across a guy named Timmy who happens to be his cameraman and we built like an amazing relationship. And I spent the last three weeks listening to all 62 episode episodes of, of Charlie rocket’s podcast. And I…

Tracey Klinkhammer (31:46):
I love it.

Sam Demma (31:49):
Wait, wait. It gets worse. It gets better. I made a note, a page of notes on every episode. So I have a 62 page booklet with a cover letter that says my onboarding is done. When do we get started question mark PS, don’t skip the last page. And if you flip to the six, the third page, it says www dot message. Dreamer.Com, which is their company and a redirects to a landing page with a video where I pitched this idea of coming on board. And then I spent $180 to get a custom made box with his logo all over it. And his cameraman gave me the mailing address and I just dropped it in the FedEx international express one day shipping today. So stay tuned, decide this here’s an example of the third door.

Tracey Klinkhammer (32:29):
I love it. So, but here, like countless, like 12 times you’ve been rejected, you know, your lack of kind of response. Yeah. It doesn’t, you know what you’re thinking is how can I find a different way in, right? How can I connect with this guy? You are making me, as you describe what he is doing. I feel like I really have to UPP my game.

Sam Demma (32:45):
Geez. Yeah, this guy’s crazy. My gosh, it’s super inspiring.

Tracey Klinkhammer (32:49):
Like how do people do that? I don’t know, like anyways, good for him. And that’s great. I hope you get him on I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for you.

Sam Demma (32:57):
I’ll let you know.

Tracey Klinkhammer (32:57):
I love it. My onboarding’s been done. When do we get started? Love it.

Sam Demma (33:01):
Little confident, a little confident, right? I like it. I like it. Yeah. Anyways, Tracey, this has been a great conversation. We went down so many different alleys. I don’t wanna say rabbit holes. Cause I feel like that’s a negative thing. I think our were, we, we went down so many, you know, pathways on onboardings on, on, on bridges that were leading us to beautiful highways. So thank you so much for taking the time to, to chat today. If an educator listening wants to reach out to you, what would be the best way for them to get in touch?

Tracey Klinkhammer (33:28):
Think LinkedIn, I don’t know how many Tracey Klinkhammers are on there, but I’m always happy to connect on Linkedin. I don’t have a big social media presence. I think we talked about this. I’m really in this job to really affect change, one student, at a time. And I think that’s kind of always been my way and I, I think I take in that sales experience and my HR experience, cuz I was in consulting roles and I was in education, like training and development. And so that was all about creating, you know, training experiences for people in a workplace that supported their learning. And I think I take all of that with me in my, you know, my experiences with students. And I really want them to know that, you know, our, our team, not just me obviously, but our team’s there and it, and it starts with just one student at a time.

Tracey Klinkhammer (34:13):
And I always, I say to my husband, I have the best job I could be literally sitting across from a student that it’s going be a trailblazer and I’m gonna be able to say, I knew that person mm-hmm when they were a student and maybe just maybe, and maybe they tell me and maybe I’ll never know. Maybe they feel like I had some small part in helping light that fire or help them find that piece of themselves or self reflect or, you know, get them on, you know, support them with the tools they need to get on the path that they want. So that’s why I do it. I do my job because I love my job and I, you know, I want our students to succeed in the way that works for them. So I don’t have a cookie cutter approach. There’s no one pathway that’s right. For any one, you know, that works across all students. It really comes down to each individual. So that’s it. So if anybody wants to learn more about that, they can. But it’s pretty simple. I’m not Charles, you know, Charlie guy, rocket. Yeah. I know Charlie rocket, my goodness. I’m gonna go home and go think about how I can up my game.

Sam Demma (35:14):
He’s not a teacher, so don’t worry, you know, he’s a, but he’s a, like he, he’s just an awesome guy. Like I I’ve wanted to, like, I want to go to the states and do a tour with him and like speak in the schools with him. Like that’s what I’m hoping comes out of it. But yeah, just it’s inspiring.

Tracey Klinkhammer (35:31):
You’re listening. I’m I’m like back in Sam big time. So I’m really excited to keep me posted.

Sam Demma (35:36):
I will. I will. Thank you so much this conversation. I appreciate it. Thanks Sam, take care. And there you have it. Another amazing guest, an amazing interview on the high performing educator podcast. As always, if you enjoy these episodes, please consider leaving a rating in review. So other educators like yourself can find this content and benefit from it. And here’s an exclusive opportunity that I mentioned at the start of the show. If you wanna meet the guest on today’s episode, if you wanna meet any of the guests that we have interviewed, consider going to www.highperformingeducator.com and signing up to join the exclusive network, you’ll have access to networking events throughout 2021 and other special opportunities. And I promise I will not fill your inbox. Talk to you soon. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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