Founder and Director
Patricia Gough is an experienced educator who spent 18 years in the classroom and 12 years in administration. Her passion for life is integrating the arts into the soul of education, along with providing evidence-based well-grounded practices in well-being. Her strong background and interest in the arts and building strong, collaborative school communities was calling Pat to follow her dream: writing meaningful, evidence based, well researched programs to help build healthy communities.
As Teacher, Coordinator, Vice-Principal and Principal of elementary schools, Pat realized how urgent it was to get schools hooked on healthy habits. For that to happen, all members of staff needed to be involved, so the entire school community would collaborate and learn together. The main goal of programming was to introduce enough healthy tools that students could use, not just during school hours, but for the rest of their lives. To be successful, daily time slots needed to be introduced school-wide!
To design evidence-based programs, Pat knew that she needed time to practice, adjust and develop, before the design stage, where she could create opportunities to ‘play, experiment and explore’ and try out her ideas. Pat made a radical life decision to leave her Principal position, after years in traditional, school settings to do just that. Wellness for All Workshop series was born!
The Big Picture
Life in any elementary or secondary school is a busy, frantic daily experience. To find time to initiate needed change, is often overlooked or put on the back burner. There are expectations and demands to fulfill. Principals have mandates from the Senior Administrators; Senior Administrators from the Trustees and School Board; and every educator has a responsibility to the Ministry of Education. The Ministry must deliver the desires of the politicians, supporting the political agenda and of course, there is always the voice of the parent. Pat believed that the only way she could return to schools with a solution, was to step out of this stressed culture, and spend time to really examine the bigger picture. She embraced this opportunity with great enthusiasm. Finding new, crystal clear lenses, was a transforming experience! An awakening, one might say!
Examining School Culture
Looking into school culture from the outside, shed an entirely different light on the situation. Sometimes ‘being immersed and too close to a situation’ clouds your vision. You can not fix what you do not know is broken. Once you are enlightened, you realize it is time to implement different actions. Getting mad at yourself for not “waking up” sooner is not productive. Live and learn. You can now use that lesson to live better.
Resistance to change often occurs when people are fear-driven or have doubt about change. That attitude often creates fixed mindsets. The main question Pat needed answered was: How do you shift a fixed mindset to a growth mindset? Schools that had a positive culture: a) redirected negative energy; b) vigorously celebrated the improving sides of the school; c) ensured that improvement efforts and plans are successful by supporting them with time, energy and resources; d) reconnect staff to the mission of schools: compassionately meeting all kids needs. Once Pat identified these features, she could build programs to meet those needs!
building a healthy roadmap
Identifying Staff Needs
Pat learned, after many interviews and years of observations, meetings, conferences, and visiting schools, the most common needs reported by staff members were: a) less business and stress; b) easily implemented resources; c) more time to collaborate; d) sustainable professional development; e) becoming more grateful & joyful (celebrating milestones together). If staffs could find ways to collectively build in these features, they believed the school culture would shift, with happier teachers, parents and of course students! Pat was well on her way to piecing together a healthier roadmap to wellbeing. If the staff was given a voice and asked about their choice, the kids deserved the same…
ON THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
Identifying Students' Needs
Children and youth everywhere responded with these common features about making their school a happier environment: A) meaningful, personal interest work; B) working on teams or with a partner to complete assignments or project work; C) more opportunities to speak openly and deal with hard conversations; D) more fun, collaborative, positive things to celebrate or look forward to. That led Pat to believe that many schools are trapped or stuck in a lot of practices that are imbedded so deeply, that even if change presents itself, sabotage, or refusal to comply, blocks progress. Pat knew the program she needed to design must address these issues in a non-threatening, friendly, engaging way. To lighten the load of heavily burdened teachers, support staffs and Principals, meant carving out time for wellness learning, seemed the best road to take. Even though, it was the road less travelled! Students would relax with a lighter approach to improving school culture.
A NEW BEGINNING FOR EVERYONE
The Solution: Wellness for All Workshops
Armed with lots of research, responses, ideas, and input from experts connected to both education and well being, Pat designed the Wellness for All Workshop series. She soon realized, it is not possible to teach or study for a growth mindset. You must demonstrate what a’ healthy culture for growth’ looks like. Growth will naturally occur and even expand when the right practices and tools are taught. Students must spend their entire life in school becoming better self-aware; understand the working of their brain vs their subconscious mind; learn if they change their narrative, they can change their life; and learn to determine what action they can take for growth.
These actions, and so much more, are all covered in a friendly, non-threatening way in the Wellness for All Workshop series. Easily implemented by teachers, parents are welcome to take it along with their child. Including 20 minutes of collaborative activities, each day to find a healthier, happier school culture, with better focused and self-aware students IS time well spent, indeed!
Welcome this simple addition to your day, with open arms and a growth mindset, and you are well on your way to…
Wellness for All!
Community Organizations Reaching Everyone
From 2011 to 2015, CORE Enterprises coordinated and expanded the involvement of community agencies that provided opportunities for youth by linking them with local resources, experts, artists and volunteers. Youth who came to CORE produced their own Personal Interest Project (called a PIP) that could develop into a small business, service or product to keep them connected and engaged in the community.
While CORE was at McMaster Innovation Park (MIP), we worked with each youth to set individual goals and map out plans to attain them. We offered studio spaces to explore, create, and discover. We expected all youth to produce a service or product that could be marketed in the Hamilton community. The dedicated CORE Team helped them with their business plans and marketing ideas in the entrepreneurial spirit of which McMaster Innovation Factory has become famous.
CORE Enterprises provided opportunities in media arts (photography, videography, gaming); music (singing, playing, recording); visual arts (various media); literary arts, (poetry, writing, journalism); dance (mirrored dance studio available); and theatre/drama (performance, teaching or coaching). Other customized topics included the environment, civics, and social justice. The content below clearly shows the fine project work CORE Youth completed; especially when they are in charge of their own learning.