Sam: Why do you do the work you do with young people?
Heather McCaig: I believe that young people are our future and that they can accomplish anything."I had someone believe in me, and I have never looked back. I want to be that person for my students." Heather Dawn McCaig Click To Tweet
Sam: What inspired you to get into this work?
Heather McCaig: I have always been involved in leadership in some way. I think this came from watching my parents and their volunteer work, how dedicated they were and still are to our community and helping others.
Sam: What gives you hope? What do you think is the biggest opportunity in education right now?
Heather McCaig: My students give me hope. I teach leadership and English as a Second Language. I have students that have come to my class from all over the world. At 12 years old, some of them have been through more devastation and trying times than most Canadians will in their entire lifetime.
They smile every day and their joy at being a part of our community warms my heart and reminds me that life is all about what we make it. With our global community, I believe connections worldwide are more available to us than ever before. That is a huge opportunity for us.
Sam: Share a story about a situation where you witnessed a student transformation due to the impact of a caring educator.
Heather McCaig: I had an autistic student once who was so afraid of cameras, loud noises and being around people. I watched him over the course of three years in a leadership class. By the time he left highschool he actually helped out in the middle of the Pep rally and had filmed himself doing a presentation. I was never so proud of that young man.
Sam: What unique ideas, tools or software are you finding very helpful in your practice right now?
Heather McCaig: Breakout rooms on Zoom or Google meets is very helpful in allowing me to still have students meet together. The connection pieces for me have been very hard with not having as many kids in person.
Sam: What is your motivator (or your driver)?
Heather McCaig: I am grateful. Grateful for my life, for my family, for living in Canada with running water and grocery stores with everything I need readily available to me."I want my students to develop an appreciation for what they have and how they can cause change for the better for others with very little work on their part." – Heather Dawn McCaig Click To Tweet
Sam: What advice would you give your younger self when you just got into education?
Heather McCaig: My first couple of years were very hard. I lost two students the first semester out, one to suicide and one to an accident. I would remind myself that everything you do with students matters, they remember the small things that you may not. So add the extra compliment, take a moment to chat about hockey or skateboarding, whatever is their passion. Let those students know that you care. Especially the ones with the hard exterior."Look at things from your heart, not just the curriculum. Make them feel like they belong; the rest will follow." – Heather Dawn McCaig Click To Tweet
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Sam Demma is an entrepreneur, youth coach, and keynote speaker. He co-founded the volunteer organization PickWaste, created the High Performing Student, delivered two TEDx Talks, and is a Board Director of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. Sam’s mission is to provide students with the hope, tools and strategies they need to become servant leaders in their schools and in the lives of those around them. www.samdemma.com