Thomas Gaudreau is an experienced educator and a highly regarded community leader. Until recently, Thomas served as the Founding Director of an Alternative School serving Middle School age students. His professional interests include: Education Innovation, Teaching, Education Leadership and Staff Development. Growing up in Northern Wisconsin, Thomas was mostly interested in outdoor activities and fine arts. He enjoyed activities like going on hiking trails and farm visitations.
Thomas began his professional career in rural South Dakota as a Middle School literacy teacher. His initial sojourn as a teacher and community leader saw him work with Hispanic immigrant communities employed in the vast sheep ranching industry. Several years down the line, Thomas Gaudreau moved to Southern Minnesota. His rank as Intermediate Grade Teacher gave him the opening to showcase his leadership and advocacy skills. The responsibilities apportioned to him include:
• Mentoring beginner teachers
• Coaching peer teachers regarding the use of instructional technology and the importance of curriculum innovation
• School District representative on social studies
• Subject matter expert for the gigantic Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning
• Leader of District-wide Staff Development Committee
• Appointed Teacher Rights Chairman and Chief Labor Contract Negotiator
What was your favorite subject back when you were in school?
My favorite subject was science. Besides conducting experiments and understanding the world, I appreciated the fact that science offered explanations to various phenomena.
What was your first job?
My first teaching job was in a Middle School teacher in South Dakota. The work entailed instructing students, enforcing behavioral rules, maintaining order and administering assignments. The job offered me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children.
What prompted you to choose the industry you currently work in?
The idea began back in Northern Wisconsin when I was a youth leader. I kick-started my career as a professional educator in South Dakota. The leadership qualities I had inculcated in my youth proved critical when I became a teacher.
How have the initial jobs prepared you for what you do now?
Working as Middle School teacher in South Dakota prepared me well for the position of Intermediate Grade School teacher in Southern Minnesota. Attributes like being resourceful and leading by example helped make me a better team member. In Southern Minnesota, I represented teachers in many professional forums across the School District and beyond, including Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning, Harcourt Brace Assessments and Pearson Assessments. The other leadership duties bestowed upon me include mentoring beginner teachers and overseeing the implementation of instructional technology and best practices.
Describe your best day at work
My most cherished moments are when I get into the classroom and begin interacting with students. I always feel good when students experience success in the classroom and out in the world.
What do you do to stay motivated at work?
Reading inspiring books and writing about my teaching experiences.
Which business ideas excite you most?
I am excited about new age business ideas like flexible, shareable workspaces and package free shopping. The package free shopping idea is growing because people are becoming increasingly concerned about the amount of wastage in food and drink packaging. Unlike the non-recyclable Styrofoam and plastics, package free shops now offer consumers simple and convenient alternatives. Selling flexible workspaces is a lucrative business niche, especially for unbound freelancers and big corporations looking for space to hold meetings away from the office.
Have you ever used any unorthodox techniques to market your work or attract business?
Nothing that I know seems out of place. Being a teacher, every new day presents an opportunity to shape the young ones and advance the course of education. Besides teaching, I am also involved in mentorship and curriculum development. The same unwavering passion is necessary for anyone with the desire to succeed in private business.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
I believe the most outstanding achievement is collaborating with the School District, teachers and School Board during the week-long Teacher Institute event held annually in the summer. The training provides a perfect opportunity for education stakeholders to share their experiences and observe best educational practices. I have been called several times to speak and it’s always encouraging to receive positive commentary from my peers and seniors.
What wisdom or word of encouragement would you like to share with your younger self?
To be a good role model for students, learn to offer constructive criticism and try as much as possible to set realistic performance goals. The latter can be achieved by setting fittingly challenging assignments based on the student’s aptitude and experience.