Episode 401: Mental Health Matters: Teachers As Hope Givers
Make a difference in your students' mental health today! Join us in conversation with Tamlin Hall of Hope Givers and Adam Kowalczyk (Coach K) of Richmond County for the Season 4 premiere of Classroom Conversations!
Make a difference in your students' mental health today! Join us in conversation with Tamlin Hall of Hope Givers and Adam Kowalczyk (Coach K) of Richmond County for the Season 4 premiere of Classroom Conversations!
Ashley Mengwasser: Before we begin, I want to let you know this episode contains sensitive information about mental health, substance misuse, and suicide. If you or a loved one need assistance, please call or text 988, Georgia's Crisis and Suicide Lifeline. Educators, tune into a positive mindset because this premiere episode of Classroom Conversation season four is full of hope. Welcome to Classroom Conversations, the platform for Georgia's teachers, presented by the Georgia Department of Education and Georgia Public Broadcasting. I'm host Ashley Mengwasser and my, are we hitting you hard off the top of a new season with content so elevating, you'll have to pinch yourself to come back down to Earth. Not to mention we're hosting two veritable celebrities in studio today. This episode is about mental health matters because mental health matters. What does the trauma-informed classroom look like? Well, just listen for the next half hour. You'll see. Our teacher guest of honor is the highly esteemed high school health teacher and athletic director at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School in Richmond County. Adam Kowalczyk, known as Coach K, says his passion for teaching and coaching comes from something deep-rooted. And it must, because he's doing more than making waves in the teen mental health space. He's calming waves. Coach K isn't just talking body, but is very much teaching the mind-body connection. Joining him, filmmaker Tamlin Hall, not to be confused with daytime broadcaster Tamron Hall. Oh, no. Tamlin is the executive producer, writer, director of the Southeast Emmy Award-winning PBS Edutainment series, Hope Givers, which includes mental health resources for teachers, parents, and students alike. He's the founder and CEO of the driving Hope Givers nonprofit. And these two know each other. Bit of a bromance going on here. Coach K is making careful use of Tamlin's Hope Givers content in his classroom. He's even a collaborator in the curriculum development of two whole episodes. Welcome Coach K and Tamlin Hall. How are you guys?
Adam Kowalczyk: I'm great. Thank you for having me.
Ashley Mengwasser: How are you, Tamlin?
Tamlin Hall: I'm wonderful. Thank you for including me in this conversation. I'm honored to be the beside Coach K.
Ashley Mengwasser: I know. I can tell you're happy to be here, but together is the linchpin of that.
Tamlin Hall: Yes.
Ashley Mengwasser: Yes.
Tamlin Hall: It's amazing.
Ashley Mengwasser: It is amazing. We'll start with you, Coach K, because you're our teacher guest of honor. What led you to become a teacher in the first place?
Adam Kowalczyk: Well, a quick story. I actually was not always wanting to be a teacher, but when I was in school, I just had such amazing impacts from different teachers that I've had over the years. And one particular instance in college where I was struggling a little bit in a class and a professor just kind of reached out and said, "I'm willing to help and I want to provide an opportunity for students, so just check your email." And he was looking right at me and I just kind of had this feeling. And sure enough, that was a bump that got me to that next grade. And it was right at that moment I thought teachers make differences and it could be something so small. And I said, I just want to have that impact on kids and to just be able to reach some of those students that maybe just need a helping hand or a positive role model.
Ashley Mengwasser: You got the message. And now look how you're paying it forward.
Adam Kowalczyk: Absolutely.
Ashley Mengwasser: It's a beautiful thing. Tamlin, look at us, both of us hosting education content. I wonder if we're mirror souls. Have you thought about that?
Tamlin Hall: I did think about that on the way here.
Ashley Mengwasser: Do you like chocolate?
Tamlin Hall: I do. I love chocolate.
Ashley Mengwasser: How do you feel about onions?
Tamlin Hall: I'm very proud of Vidalia, Georgia, but I'm not a big onion person.
Ashley Mengwasser: We are the same, Tamlin. I just had a strong feeling about it. But you are a filmmaker, which I am not, and a twin maker, which I am not. Please explain that.
Tamlin Hall: So I have four-year-old twin boys that are identical, Brock Rivers Hall and Hendrick Stone Hall. And they are, I guess when parents say they're my everything, they really are my everything and everything that I do is for them. And I'm honored to be a father. I think that what Adam was just saying about being a role model and a trusted adult and someone to, I don't know, I think responsibility is really important, accountability. And I look at Coach K and I go, "Oh wow. He is a role model." And I've watched him with a lot of students and I want to mimic him. I want to be a lot like Coach K.
Ashley Mengwasser: That's so beautiful. I see a tear forming in his right eye right now. You guys have a beautiful banter and a beautiful connection, and I think it is because you share that very mission that you talked about. Tell me something personal about yourselves that maybe your students don't know, Coach K. Can you think of anything?
Adam Kowalczyk: Well, a lot of my students, they know I coach several sports, so they know I'm real big and I've got Green Bay all over my room. And they know, and I'm the weightlifting teacher. So they get that aspect. But it's always a shock when they find out I am actually a big gamer.
Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, like video?
Adam Kowalczyk: And I love video games. And I've even hosted some tournaments at my school and-
Ashley Mengwasser: Look at that.
Adam Kowalczyk: ... the kids are like, "He can't be serious." And I said, "Oh, I can play some games."
Ashley Mengwasser: Watch me dominate you, young people.
Adam Kowalczyk: That's always a shock to them. They're like, "No, you're just kidding." I said, "Oh no, I love a good video game." And I still play and my wife, we'll play together. So it's a lot of fun.
Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, that is fun. Tamlin, what's a fun fact about you that most of the people who work with you might not know?
Tamlin Hall: Fun fact, maybe I'm not that much fun.
Ashley Mengwasser: No, stop.
Tamlin Hall: I got to think about it for a second. My goodness. I guess something super random is that I lived in Los Angeles for 12 years. And at one point in time I was a taxi cab driver before the Uber days and Lyft days. It was like a legit, like I wore a fedora hat, dressed up and drove a cab around for a little while in Los Angeles.
Ashley Mengwasser: I love that. OG cabbie.
Tamlin Hall: Lot of stories.
Ashley Mengwasser: That's wonderful.
Tamlin Hall: Lots of stories. Yeah.
Ashley Mengwasser: Did you ever have a rider that was so rude you just could not wait for the ride to end, I'm sure?
Tamlin Hall: There was quite a few.
Ashley Mengwasser: Any celebrities?
Tamlin Hall: Not that I know of from what I remember. It was a 5:00 PM to 5:00 AM shift. So there was a lot of stuff that we probably can't talk about on this one.
Ashley Mengwasser: Exactly right. Because you were keeping your eyes on the road and getting them where they were going safely.
Tamlin Hall: Yes, getting them safely where they're supposed to go.
Ashley Mengwasser: That's right. What compelled you to make Hope Givers, Tamlin?
Tamlin Hall: So we don't have enough time in the day for this one. I grew up in La Grange, Georgia. It's a small town. It's about an hour south of Atlanta. And I had a friend growing up who everybody loved. And I was bullied a lot growing up and I didn't have very many friends. And he would give me rides and tell me jokes. He made me feel like I belonged in this world. And his senior year in high school, he was self-medicating an undiagnosed mental illness as he was voted friendliest of his senior class. And his name was Holden Layfield, and he died by suicide. He was 19 and I was a junior in high school when it happened. And I know this is a podcast, but if you can look, I'm really old now, so I'm way past 19, like a junior in high school. Holden had more compassion, acceptance, generosity than anybody I've ever met. And it just made a deep impact in my life to want to tell his story. So the first film that I did was called Holden On. I got the life rights from his family. And then after that I was traveling around the country with Holden On on panels with parents talking about suicide and family members and a lot of individuals just talking about content and themes that were really difficult to talk about in communities, about the opioid addiction and substance use. And they were telling their stories, but using it for hope for others. And it was this pay it forward initiative in these communities. And I was like, I just want to share these stories because I just want other people, I want someone in Valdosta, Georgia to know what's happening in Breckenridge, Colorado and using that for hope and for an opportunity to realize that you are not alone and that there's other people in this community and to get more connected. So it was all about connectedness when I started Hope Givers.
Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah, it is connective tissue by function. Yeah, it is connective tissue by function. And it's a beautiful gift you give people, a gift that Coach K has received and applied in his classroom. And we're going to focus on that now for the duration of our conversation. But Coach K, a common topic of conversation is about the need for students to have a trusted adult. Can you tell us more about that and how you define trusted adult?
Adam Kowalczyk: Well, truly, I think just establishing the rapport with the students. I focus on that day one when they know me as Coach K. I'm a firm coach and I have a lot of rules and I really hold to those, but at the end of the day I tell them tough love is still love and I do care about all my students deeply and I want them to succeed. Whether that's in the classroom, on the court, in life, I just want them to do well. So I want to be that person if they're having a bad day, they can pop in. I'll have students that will bring their lunch and they'll eat lunch and we'll just talk and discuss what's going on if they're having a bad day. And I think sometimes just somebody to listen that they can go to and whether they vent or they talk about an assignment they're struggling with or a relationship they have questions about, because a lot of those things we talk about in the health classroom. And so I think just being that person that they can go to I think is really most important. When I think of a trusted adult, who could I trust with this conversation to give me good advice, to listen and not just I'm in the room, but I hear you? I'm not just listening, but I hear what you're saying.
Ashley Mengwasser: Very well said. And I should add that you're here today because you were pretty much seen as the epitome of this in Georgia's classroom. So you're certainly doing it right, and I think it comes from your ability to apply just the sense of passion and purpose. You're available, you're accessible to them, you guys talk about things, but you also hold them accountable. So you're not the pushover teacher either. You're there for them, but everybody has to show up in that relationship. I think that's really good. And you're probably seeing certain risk factors that keep coming up for your students. What are some that you've seen?
Adam Kowalczyk: One thing we really deal with in my community is just where the students come from. There are so many different backgrounds, and when I approach any child, I have to think, I don't know what their background is, I don't know what their family life is because that really shapes your viewpoint. We deal a lot with mental health, just dealing with stress and anxiety, coping skills, how to handle... Being a teenager is tough. And where I teach, it's a very high performance school. They have a very rigid schedule with their fine arts, with the academics. So just trying to balance all that mentally I think is one of our biggest challenges. Just helping the students organize their time, manage their schedules a little bit better, but we also have a very high rate of violence in our community. There's a lot of high poverty rates in Richmond County. And so also just approaching that side as well, because we never know what the kids are dealing with at home.
Ashley Mengwasser: That's right. And the solution to risk factors is to focus on protective factors, which is where Tamlin's series, Hope Givers, comes in. We know by name, Tamlin, that there is hope behind the series, Hope Givers, but who are your hope givers featured in the series?
Tamlin Hall: So our hope givers for this season are currently, it's amazing, I'm really honored, Tyler Gordon, who is a 16-year-old painting savant, who self-taught himself how to paint. He was born deaf and he did the TIME cover magazine of LeBron James back in 2020. And so he really talks about bullying and disability in his episode. And we also highlight Avery Dixon, who is America's Got Talent All-Star runner up from Atlanta, Georgia. Shout out to ATL.
Ashley Mengwasser: All right. A-town down.
Tamlin Hall: Yeah. He's got this really incredible story of bullying as well, and depression and suicidal ideation. But one thing that America's Got Talent didn't do when they highlighted Avery was that they... He talked about bullying. And so when we did the interview at Clayton State with him, he talked about bullying and I just assumed it was like peer to peer. He started talking about the adults bullying him and I have chill bumps. And it was that aha moment. I was like, "This is what this episode's going to be on now, trusted adults."
Ashley Mengwasser: There we go.
Tamlin Hall: As we sit here, I think even me, when I was growing up, when I was getting bullied, there were adults who said things to me that I still remember. If I look back on it, I go, I'm probably who I am today as an adult because I look at that and I go, "I don't want to be like that." That's not who I trust. That's somebody who's broken my trust. And if you know any relationship you've ever been in, whether it's a romantic relationship, when that trust is broken, that trust is broken and it's really hard to get back. So trust is so important for us in creating hope givers and giving the audience hope givers that build trust and build relationships and connectedness that I think is great. We got a few others. We got our first Spanish-speaking episode this season.
Ashley Mengwasser: Love it.
Tamlin Hall: Which I think is awesome. And we highlight a couple of other Atlanta-based talent, and we've also included some student reporter segments this year that we were working with. Marietta High School, Vidalia High School, Vidalia onions.
Ashley Mengwasser: I wonder where that came from.
Tamlin Hall: Bringing that one back. And Chestatee High School in Gainesville, Georgia. So we think it's really important to really give the voice to the youth and the teens and what we're doing now because teens want to hear from teens.
Ashley Mengwasser: They do. It's wonderful that you're making trust and the focus of that concept such a priority. Thank gosh for the Coach Ks out there that are showing that in real life for students. What would you say is your underlying objective of the whole series, if you had to put it in a sentence?
Tamlin Hall: Yeah, that would be probably a really, really, really, really long sentence.
Ashley Mengwasser: You can do it. I'll ignore the run-on as an English major.
Tamlin Hall: I'm going to keep it simple. We're here to help save young lives and that's it. We can have fun doing it. Teens, they're a really tough audience and they can sniff out inauthenticity...
Ashley Mengwasser: Yes, they can.
Tamlin Hall: ... completely. So we're authentic, we're real. We highlight the highs and the lows. It's what life is. But we maintain ourselves as Hope Givers, the producers, as the trusted adults. And we give the voice to the teens and we say, "Here we are. This is what we can do together." And by doing it together and staying more connected, then that's going to create more trust. And when you create more trust, there's more vulnerability. And when you have vulnerability, you have trusted adults that are in the room that listen, and then that helps save young lives because those are all protective factors.
Ashley Mengwasser: Yes, and real relationships. Coach K, what protective factors are you able to demonstrate and cultivate in your health classroom as a result of Hope Givers?
Adam Kowalczyk: I use Hope Givers a lot. And we actually had an assembly. And I think what I love about Hope Givers is we can come in and talk about topics that really are pretty serious and it would be very easy to hear conversations about it and just walk out feeling down and you're like, "Man, that was kind of bleak." But Hope Givers puts it in such a fun way, and it's lively and there's so much positivity around it. And if you meet anybody from the company, everybody is so genuine and it shows in the show. And when you give that to the kids and the teachers buy into it, just being able to open up good conversation. That's the number one tool. Tamlin asked me, "How do you use it?" And I said, "The conversation that results from watching these episodes or using some of the curriculum because kids want to share, that is the one thing that I have learned deeply over the last many years I've been teaching."
Ashley Mengwasser: Do you want to tell them how many
Adam Kowalczyk: I'll be going on year nine. So not too many, but it's that conversation piece. And kids want to be real, they want to share, they want to open up. But what I found is they don't always have that person that they feel they can. And I tell them all the time, sometimes there's things you probably just want to tell your friends. Some things you maybe don't want to tell your parents, but you kind of need to. And I said we were teenagers once, so we know you don't want to tell parents everything.
Adam Kowalczyk: ... teenagers want. So we know you don't want to tell parents everything, but just having somebody to listen and to give good advice, and just making the classroom that safe space, that true safe space. Because sometimes, we'll label it, you can share, but the kids will tell you, "No. My mom said I could tell her anything, but I got in trouble when I told her this." So this is just one of those things where I said, "Truly, there's only certain things I have to report," and I tell them that upfront, but they do. They open and they share, and the kids share when you realize, "I'm not alone." That is one of the most important things is there are other people that go through this or that have a similar situation, and they don't even realize it because we're afraid sometimes to open up.
Ashley Mengwasser: Right. That's almost an awakening. But you're providing the trusted adult relationship, and you're combining it with the vehicle of Tamlin's Hope Givers, and that seems to be a recipe for success. And you're so involved in this that you had a hand in the curriculum development for, I believe, two of the episodes. Do you remember which those were?
Adam Kowalczyk: I believe it was one and four?
Tamlin Hall: Yeah.
Adam Kowalczyk: I think were the episodes I did. And they spoke to me, some of the things that they talked about. And I always say, sometimes, things are just meant to be. And the episodes, as I've watched them, they're all great, and I use them all, but sometimes, you just feel, "Man, that was meant for me." And I hope that there are kids out there that feel that way, that, "Man, this was just meant for me," and that's what I love. And so I wrote some curriculum and lesson plans that try to be very plug-and-play, that they're so easy to use, and they get the kids involved, and show the video, and just have a journal entry or a conversation. And I think the kids would still get a lot out of that, which makes it so easy to use. That's what I love about it.
Ashley Mengwasser: And just run with it. I should tell you that I've watched, and I think it's a wonderful series, especially your two episodes. Were they on bullying? May have been one of the topics. And was the other one suicidal ideation, maybe?
Adam Kowalczyk: Dealing with the foster care system, and-
Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, that was part of it. Yeah.
Adam Kowalczyk: Mm-hmm.
Ashley Mengwasser: Really tough stuff, honestly, but real things that young minds are facing. You seem so comfortable talking about mental health, Coach K. Why do you think that is? I'm thinking back to other athletic educators that I had back in the day, and I think that they were always open and warm. There's just something to that, and you demonstrate that so well. Where do you think that comfort comes from?
Adam Kowalczyk: Well, I've always enjoyed working with kids, and I try to be that person that people feel they can go to and that they're comfortable around. You can't win every battle, but-
Ashley Mengwasser: True.
Adam Kowalczyk: ... I want to put that out there. And I think the kids realize that coaching helps, I think, because you really get to know kids in a totally different sense. When you get them out of the classroom, they can relax a little little bit. And at Davidson, we also get that fine arts piece. So you get to see the kids really in their element, and somebody in the classroom that maybe you're struggling with, and then you see them on stage, or you see them out on the court, and it's a totally different person, and you really get to know the whole child. And I think that is one of the most important things that educators can do is truly know the whole child and take care of the whole child. And so I try to be that person, but I've always been that way. Even when I was a teenager, I used to babysit my cousins, and I loved it, and I looked forward to it, and it paid pretty good, so that's always a perk. But I've just always wanted to be a people person, even since I was young.
Tamlin Hall: Yeah. I would say for us, with Hope Givers, very much of an outcome, our goal is to create a positive culture and climate everywhere we go. It's with my staff, it's with our crew, our talent. It's with our educators and our teachers, and then it goes into the classroom. And that's one thing that I'm going to sit here and admire Coach K for a second and say I admire your positivity. Because I think that oftentimes, that's what youth, that's what teens, that's what adults see.
Ashley Mengwasser: Need. Yeah.
Tamlin Hall: I want to be around somebody that's positive. I love it. That warms my heart. That makes me feel like I can trust that person. If we live and we carry ourselves in ways where possibly we're doing something that's maybe not as positive, then maybe someone's not as trustful to approach a conversation or a connection or a relationship. So I just admire your positivity and what you bring every time I see you, dude, so-
Adam Kowalczyk: Thank you.
Ashley Mengwasser: You the man, Coach K.
Tamlin Hall: Yeah.
Ashley Mengwasser: You the man.
Adam Kowalczyk: Thank you.
Tamlin Hall: You are. You're my teacher of the year.
Ashley Mengwasser: Exactly. You make a great point, Tamlin, that thoughts have momentum, and those can go one way or the other, depending on how students are being exposed to handle that. So I think that's one of the things that Hope Givers does so well, is it offers them up a way to kind of process some of this. So I want to ask you, how do you think Hope Givers gets at this something that teens are going through in ways that are better than other mediums might? Why does it work so well?
Tamlin Hall: I think that Hope Givers hits something that others haven't in the way that, what I mentioned earlier, about authenticity, is that we're leaning into the positive. We're leaning into, yes, we're talking about stuff that sometimes is hard to talk about and it's difficult. And oftentimes, as creators, what creators do is they look at that and they lean more into that. And I'm the opposite. I play with opposites as a creator, and I go, "What can we do to contrast that?" Well, when we're talking about something that's sometimes tough and difficult, well, can we bring some humor? Can we have some joy? Can we dance?
Ashley Mengwasser: Do an activity.
Tamlin Hall: Can we do an activity?
Ashley Mengwasser: Loved your matching tracksuits in the one episode-
Tamlin Hall: Oh, yeah.
Ashley Mengwasser: ... by the way. You looked fantastic.
Tamlin Hall: Oh, Brandon Todd. I love him. Yeah. So I think that's definitely something that I would say that is unique for us, is really pulling out and seeing the hope and finding that in the story. It's really important.
Ashley Mengwasser: The format works so well, too. It almost feels a little bit like a variety show.
Tamlin Hall: It is a variety show. Thank you for acknowledging that. When I think about it, the second season especially is just really leaning into this variety style. So I taught at UCLA, so I teach part-time at UGA for screenwriting. I teach a MFA program.
Ashley Mengwasser: Well, that's a big deal. Can we pause for that?
Tamlin Hall: One, two, three. Cool. So, yeah. So I was at UCLA, I got my master's at UCLA, and I was teaching there. And what I found with 19 and 20-year-olds was that their attention span was zero. And especially with social media, and it's swiping, it's looking, so you have about three seconds to grab somebody's attention before they move on. So that was one thing that I really used in my personal life into the creative life of creating Hope Givers of no segment can be very long. We have to do it-
Ashley Mengwasser: Keep it moving.
Tamlin Hall: ... and keep on. Move. Move the story forward, move the story forward, move the story forward. So that's something that you really see in our series that we try to be very intentional about.
Ashley Mengwasser: It's paced so well, and you can get something from every little piece of it. I think it's just very well-designed. Coach K, let's conclude with the resources that you've been using to support mental health in your classroom. And let's go with some that teachers can start using tomorrow. We've got Hope Givers, Emmy-winning Hope Givers, we've got Google Classroom. What are some other things that you're using?
Adam Kowalczyk: I am actually a teacher. I use a tremendous amount of self-made content-
Ashley Mengwasser: Look at you.
Adam Kowalczyk: ... because I want to teach to my students, so I don't use too many. Hope Givers has been probably one of the biggest, especially when we're talking about some of the things that teachers may normally say, "I don't know how I want to do that in the classroom. I don't know how I'm going to bring that up. I don't want to say anything that's too edgy," and this just makes it such an easy way to bring some of that out. I do try to reach out and find different resources. I use some of the Big Four data, the National Institute for Health, for example, and I'll pull some content, but I'll use that to create lesson plans. And we do a lot of journal entries and a lot of discussion. I think that's probably the number-one thing I do when we talk about mental health, because it's so different for everybody. So I try to stay away from things that are too generic, and really create content that really pertains to the students that I'm teaching in my classroom.
Ashley Mengwasser: It's tailored. It's bespoke instruction.
Adam Kowalczyk: Yes.
Ashley Mengwasser: Yes. And I think that's why it works, because you're targeting your audience because you know them so well. Tamlin, I heard you hint at a Season Two, which is big news. That's exciting. Where can teachers find the Hope Givers content and associated resources?
Tamlin Hall: Well, they can find Hope Givers on Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Ashley Mengwasser: Woo woo.
Tamlin Hall: Which has been an amazing partner. Laura Evans, the Director of Education at GPB, has been an incredible partner and believer in Hope Givers when all there was a proof of concept. So they can go there. We're on PBS Learning Media that's attached to the Google Classroom. You can also go to PBS. You can also go to WETA PBS, which is Washington DC. They've got some content of ours. NYC's got some content of ours.
Ashley Mengwasser: And you don't just watch the show and make your own notes, right? There are actual tools for implementation, right?
Tamlin Hall: Yeah.
Ashley Mengwasser: What's there?
Tamlin Hall: So what we do was with our series, what we wanted to do was kind of have a standalone videos of like, "If that's it, if that's all you want to do? Just do that." But we have lesson plans. We have curriculum, that is Health Education Standards aligned, nationally, sixth through 12th grade. We got you covered. It is completely free, like Coach K said, "Plug and play." So that's all on the GPB site that you can find. We have resources that are vetted, for mental health resources, that are on there as well. For anybody that is going through some challenges that maybe need a little bit more resources because disclaimer, Hope Givers, we are not mental health professionals, but we sure do work with a lot of them. Because we have to ensure that our content gets the two thumbs up. So all of that is on the GPB site. And you can head over there. You can go to our website, hopegiversga.org.
Ashley Mengwasser: Excellent. And Season Two, which we've just established, any chance Coach K is going to have a hand in some of that curriculum?
Tamlin Hall: Yes. Coach K is going to have more of a hand in that curriculum. We just had a conversation last night about how that's going to work out. And I would say Coach K's been really great for what Hope Givers is and what we are now and where we're going. He just told me yesterday, I don't know if I can say this, I'll say it and then you'll say, "Don't say that," but he said, All the middle schools and high schools got approved to use Hope Givers for this upcoming school year.
Ashley Mengwasser: You made that happen, Coach K.
Adam Kowalczyk: At the end of the day, I teach at one school, but I just want kids to be successful. Anything in life, if you're going to do it, do it right. And I want to go big. And something that's so great as Hope Givers, I just feel like needs to be in more classrooms. So I just had those conversations and GPB is what allowed that to happen because that is an approved resource to use in the classroom. So it made it a little bit easier but I truly just want to impact as many kids as I can. I don't want teachers to feel like it's just me and my class. There's so much more out there and there's so many kids that just need somebody or a good program or somebody to listen to. So anything I can do to help, to write lesson plans, it's so rewarding. Anything you do with Hope Givers, when I get off a call, I always, and we know how Teams meetings are and online meetings, and sometimes you walk out and you're like, "Whew." But when I get off a call, I'm like, "I just feel amazing," every single time. Everybody that's involved with this is so positive and genuine and that's what makes it so successful.
Ashley Mengwasser: It's built into the DNA of the thing because of what Tamlin told us in the beginning about his motivating mission, which is very salient and very alive. You two are true teammates, beacons of hope, both of you. Thank you for being here.
Adam Kowalczyk: Thank you.
Ashley Mengwasser: Before we go, do you think you could leave us with a quote that you either made up yourself or are known for borrowing that gives some hope to all those listening?
Adam Kowalczyk: Yeah. One thing I say all the time, and it's short and simple, "Raise the bar, raise the child." That when you hold them to a standard and you elevate those expectations, so many kids will work and meet those. So we don't want to set the bar low. We can always help if the bar's a little too high. That's what a trusted adult is for, that's what teachers are for, that's what parents are for. I'm going to hold you to that high standard, but I'll help you if it's needed. So that's one that I say all the time.
Ashley Mengwasser: I love that. What about you, Tamlin?
Tamlin Hall: I don't really want to go now because yours was so good.
Ashley Mengwasser: No, come on.
Tamlin Hall: Oh, man.
Ashley Mengwasser: Don't leave us hanging.
Tamlin Hall: So back in the day I was an actor, and so a lot of acting classes and so I'm taking one from a play. It's called Zoo Story and Edward Albee is the playwright. "Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly." And I think that that's just part of life and the journey that we all are in, that oftentimes we think that everybody is perfect except us, especially on social media. But what we're doing is we're all making mistakes and we're all on this journey and we're all just trying to figure it out. And as long as we can try to figure it out together and be more connected, that way back's going to be a little bit shorter.
Ashley Mengwasser: And that was all he wrote. Enough said there. That's all for Episode One. Tamlin Hall, Coach Adam Kowalczyk, thank you so much for being here with us today. Audience, we've got a whole new season in store for Georgia's hope-filled educators who are always on our minds. You're a great teacher. I'm Ashley. Come back next week for more Classroom Conversations. Bye for now. Funding for Classroom Conversations is made possible through the School Climate Transformation Grant. There is hope. If you or a loved one need assistance, please call or text 988, Georgia's Crisis and Suicide Life Line.