Ed Talks

NLPS ED Talks brings you conversations with educators, students, school administrators, managers and Trustees that promote a K-12 education focus while giving insight on the unique individuals that work or attend our school system.

Ladysmith students Zack Silvey and Sophia Toye pose for the NLPS Ed Talks podcast

Sophia Toye & Zack Silvey – BC K-12 Anti-Racism Summit

On this episode of the NLPS ED Talks podcast, Ladysmith Secondary students Sophia Toye and Zack Silvey share their experience after taking part in the BC K-12 Anti-Racism Summit held in the Lower Mainland. What did they learn? Who did they meet? Listen to find out.

Rolanda Murray & Francesca Paladino – VIU Student Recruiters

Vancouver Island University student recruiters, Rolanda Murray and Francesca Paladino, visit the NLPS ED Talks Podcast booth to discuss post-secondary opportunities for students and adults. We ask the important questions that all potential students should consider: How can students prepare for applying? What should students consider when looking for a post-secondary institution or a particular program? Are there pros and cons to leaving town or living at home while attending university? Answers to these and more on this first episode of season five!

Matt Rickett – Health and Wellness Officer & Deputy Fire Chief

Back from fighting fires in Northern B.C., Matt Rickett, the district's Occupational Health and Wellness Officer and the Town of Ladysmith's Deputy Fire Chief, spares a few minutes out of his busy day to join us in the NLPS ED Talks Podcast booth to chat about his work near and far from home.

Ethics Bowl – NDSS

Joining us on this episode of the NLPS ED Talks podcast is a group of seven students from Nanaimo District Secondary School: Sabine Rocque, Sophia Lobb, Franklin Rokeby, Natalie La Bounty, Danielle Barberie, Laura Mace and Marcus Nguyen. Following their victory at the Vancouver Island regional event, the group was invited to the 2023 Ethics Bowl Canada High School National finals held in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, MB. They share their training and experience for the big event and took some time to have an ethical debate on compassionate robots.

Zeyad Merchant – Director of I.T. – Discussing AI

The school district's Director of Information Technology swings by the NLPS ED Talks Podcast booth and speaks with Dale about the growing use of Artificial Intelligence, more specifically, platforms such as ChatGPT. What is it, how does it work and what are the implications for education? While this particular platform is making waves, AI is not new. We have it on our phones and is used everyday in search tools and popular video streaming services like Netflix.

Annalise Lam – Student & Highland Dance World Champion

Gracing us with her presence in the NLPS ED Talks podcast booth is NDSS grade 12 student and Highland Dance World Champion, Annalise Lam. Fresh from award-winning performances (six medals to be exact) at the Cowal Gathering highland dance world competition in Scotland, Annalise shares her history, dancing accolades (and there are many) and her plans for post graduation. We could learn a step or two from this accomplished student!

Shawn Johnston – Executive Director, Human Resources

Next up in the NLPS ED Talks Podcast booth is the Executive Director of Human Resources, Shawn Johnston. He's opened the door for celebs while working for a top hotel in Vancouver and eventually took the path to a law degree. How did he go from small town Ontario to the big city to eventually landing the top HR job in the district? Have a seat, listen and find out.

Holly Dupont – CYFSW

Kicking off season four of NLPS Ed Talks Podcast is Child Youth and Family Support Worker Holly Dupont. Executive Director of Communications and host Dale Burgos sat down with Holly before the official start of the 2022-23 school year to find out what a typical start up looks like for someone in her position. She shares stories of her upbringing in Ladysmith and how that experience led her to what she does today. Fun fact: She has listened to all of our podcasts to date!

Joan Brown – Snuneymuxw First Nation & Scott Saywell – Superintendent

We continue our journey through Truth and Reconciliation. We are honoured to have Snuneymuxw First Nation CAO Joan Brown join our podcast to share her story and speak on behalf of her ancestors on the need to respect people, culture and the land on which we reside. She and Superintendent Scott Saywell share stories of the journey between the First Nation and school district. We touch on the Syeyutsus Learning Framework, the Board goal of Reconciliation and unique partnerships like Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School and Te'tuxwtun (Fifth Street project). The goal is to honour the brilliance of the ancestors and weave Indigenous way of life into our daily lives.

Honourable Jennifer Whiteside – B.C. Education Minister

On this episode we welcome B.C.’s Minister of Education and MLA for New Westminster into our virtual “podcast booth” to discuss her early years in B.C. and the series of events that led to her overseeing one of the largest and most important portfolios in government.

Dr. Sandra Allison – Medical Health Officer

We welcome Dr. Sandra Allison, Medical Health Officer for Central Vancouver Island to the virtual NLPS ED Talks Podcast booth. Dr. Allison shares stories from her upbringing in rural Manitoba to her time in Northern B.C to her move to Nanaimo. After getting to know her, we chat about COVID-19, vaccine rollout and the work that is involved managing a global pandemic.

Mark Walsh – Secretary-Treasurer

After a brief hiatus, NLPS ED Talks returns with newly minted Secretary-Treasurer, Mark Walsh. Born and raised in Victoria, Mark shares his excitement for working in education following a career as a banker, lawyer and former Secretary-Treasurer for the Greater Victoria School District. He shares his first impressions since starting with NLPS in April and drops some hints on his ideas for the future.

Franjo Crnkovic – Teacher/Coach

In the podcast booth we have teacher and coach Franjo Crnkovic. Born in Canada and sticking close to his Croatian roots, Franjo spent his youth in Nanaimo before joining the Croatian military and playing every sport imaginable. Today he teaches French and runs the NDSS West Coast Wilderness Studies program.

Chad Jobe – Teacher/Award Winner

In the NLPS ED Talks booth we have award winning teacher Chad Jobe! On this episode we’ll hear about his journey to teaching, struggles growing up and the many successes he is seeing with the students in the district’s Learning Alternatives program. Chad shares life experiences from his time as a chef and his encounter with The Great One when he lived in Edmonton. What was the award he won? Stay tuned to find out. Watch a short clip of “The Kid Whisperer’s” win

Kitty Kanhoffen – Teacher/YouTube Personality

We’ve got a celebrity! Elementary teacher Kitty Kanhoffen (and yes, Kitty is her real name, awesome right?) sits down in the NLPS ED Talks booth to share tales of snagging the big ones in waterways across BC and beyond. Her Fishing with Rod videos have garnered tens of thousands of views on YouTube. She isn’t going to divulge her secret fishing spots, but she does share her experiences in and outside the classroom.

Kate Russell – Principal at Gabriola Elementary

New to the district, Kate Russell brings her worldly experiences to the halls of Gabriola Elementary. Born in Regina, growing up in Victoria and working on the other side of the world in Egypt, Kate shares stories of living in Oak Bay, teaching in communities across B.C. and boarding a plane set for the Middle East. She’s worked in and visited more than a dozen countries before settling back in on Vancouver Island. She’ll share her stories of cultural differences and the experiences her daughter had growing up in the desert surrounded by millions of people to a community of 1,500 in the mountains of B.C.

Dionte Jelks – Principal at Ladysmith Intermediate School

Born in the south side of Chicago and growing up in what was once known to be the poorest neighourhood in the United States, Dionte shares his story of living in the Robert Taylor Homes projects and attending school in areas plagued by gangs, drugs and violence. Dionte also shares his inspiration and key figures in his life that helped him succeed in school, sports and music. After receiving his psychology and education degree, Dionte returned to where he grew up where he helped shape minds in the classroom and on the field. He’s got a close connection with First Nations schools in BC and shares his secret to success at Ladysmith Intermediate.

Ladysmith Intermediate – Universal Design Project

Tracey Teneycke, Grade 7 teacher at Ladysmith Intermediate School, and eight of her students share their experiences from a recent Universal Design Project. The purpose was to raise awareness on the school and community’s accessibility challenges. Students spent two days in wheelchairs inside the school and around the town of Ladysmith. Students noticed some opportunities and wrote letters to the Mayor of Ladysmith, Aaron Stone, and Superintendent of Schools, Scott Saywell. Have a listen to their solutions!

Jacksun Fryer – Student/Dancer

At 16, Jacksun Fryer has accomplished what no other BC dancer has done before – as one-half of dance duo, Funkanometry, they have the distinction to have made it the furthest on the NBC dance competition television program, World of Dance. They didn’t take home the top prize, but he now has some great stories to tell. He’s also danced for Team Canada in both Italy and Denmark and hopes to attend UCLA once he graduates from Dover Bay. What was it like to meet international pop star Jennifer Lopez? Listen to find out.

Arianna Phillips – Student/Athlete

It all started with Tee-Ball and figure skating at four years old. Now 16, Arianna Phillips has tried a multitude of sports and has won medals in almost all of them! The Dover Bay Grade 10 student has traveled the globe and has brought home gold, silver and bronze medals from the Special Olympics, as well as provincial, national and world championships. How many sports has she competed in? Listen to find out.

Matt Kuzminski – Teacher/Coach

We dare you to try and read out loud Matt Kuzminski’s accolades in one breath…bet you can’t do it! On this episode of NLPS ED Talks, Matt, a teacher in the Learning Alternatives Department, shares stories from the classroom and the basketball court. As coach with the VIU men’s basketball team, he’s led the charge to national and PACWEST championships and has grabbed Coach of the Year more than once. Check out his impressive coaching bio on the VIU website.

Bill Shook – Facilities (Grounds keeping)

Bill Shook has been working in the Facilities Department since 1986, but the Shook name has been a fixture in the district for decades, as his parents were long-standing School Trustees. Bill has worked as a custodian, groundskeeper and even spent some time as a school secretary. He’s a product of Nanaimo’s school system and looks to hang up his hat when he retires at the end of March. He plans to continue with a hobby that has seen him play over 20,000 matches…find out what keeps him coming back for more on this episode of NLPS ED Talks.

Sarah Dmytruk – CTC Student

We welcome Sarah Dmytruk, our first student to the NLPS ED Talks podcast. She’s a January grad who was the top female student in the Career Technical Centre’s Level C Welding course who is already working in the manufacturing industry and finds time saving lives. Here is her inspiring story!

Dale Burgos – Exec. Director of Communications

The host has become the interviewee! Trustee Bill Robinson returns to NLPS ED Talks to interview Dale Burgos, the district’s Executive Director of Communications. Dale is a former broadcaster turned public relations professional who has worked in radio, TV and the not-for-profit and education sectors. What was his communications strategy during the recent snow days? Listen to find out.

Charlene McKay – Board Chair

Charlene McKay is a newly elected Trustee (Oct. 2018) and the current NLPS Board Chair. She’s an Island Original that has lived and worked across B.C. She’s been an active parent council rep at her children’s school as well as District Parent Council Advisory President. Found out what she likes to do for fun and what priorities the Board will be focused on in the next four years.

Scott Saywell – Superintendent/CEO

Scott Saywell is halfway through his first year as the district’s Superintendent/CEO. Find out where he grew up, where his ultimate favourite spot is to sing, what he likes to do outside of work and what his vision is for the school district in the coming years.

Nancy Ketchen – Human Resources (Professional Frog Catcher)

By day, Nancy Ketchen is the district’s Absence Dispatch Coordinator, by night, she’s a professional frog catcher! Nancy has the unique distinction to be the official American Bullfrog catcher in BC. Her work is integral in university research across the country. What do bullfrogs and sleep apnea have in common? You’ll have to listen to find out. Watch the video teaser clip to see them up close!

Dominique Sullivan – Teacher-Librarian

Dominique Sullivan, Teacher-Librarian at École Quarterway in Nanaimo, talks about tech (Google Suite for Education) in the classroom and the importance of taking care of your mental health. Dominique is also a long-time yoga instructor, recently appointed Facilitator for the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education, and teaches a course for teens called “Making Friends with Yourself: Mindful Compassion for Teens”. For more info: Website: www.zenlibrarian.ca Instagram: @zen_librarian Twitter: @librarian_zen Facebook: Zen Librarian

Lynn Brown – Mental Health and Addictions Manager

Lynn Brown, the district’s Mental Health and Addictions Manager, talks about the legalization of cannabis and its effects. She also shares the district’s education practices and offers helpful information for adults to consider when having conversations with youth about the use of marijuana. Lynn refers to provincially funded Emotion Focused Family Therapy for all families looking for coaching on how to deal with difficult family situations with their kids. In Nanaimo call (250) 739-5790.

Dave Prevost – Transportation Manager

Snow or icy conditions on Vancouver Island roads is a challenge! Dave Prevost, Transportation Manager for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, explains the process he follows to determine if it is safe for buses to be on the road. What about school closures during these times? Dale Burgos, Executive Director for Communications, explains the process the district follows when determining if schools should remain open or call it a snow day. It’s an involved process that is hours in the making, have a listen!

Crystal Dennison – Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation

Crystal Dennison, Executive Director of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation, highlights the good work, needs and goals of the Foundation that supports NLPS students through breakfast/food programs, school supplies/programs, and scholarships & bursaries.

Trustee Bill Robinson

Bill Robinson, third-term school trustee for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, shares stories from his storied past as a CBC radio personality, published author, and his time living in a Buddhist Temple. The mind behind “The Best Me I Can Be” initiative in the district also shares his hopes for the coming term.