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Patrice Badami

About Me

Patrice Badami has a Masters in Elementary Education and Special Education. She has advocated for families of special needs children as well as for her own children with special needs.


Acorn to Tree Learn and Grow was created to help all children and their families have access to free educational and recreational resources.

Acorn to Tree Family Podcast

Podcast with Donovan Dreyer – Helping Teens and Parents Navigate the Rapidly Changing World

Full Episode Transcript:

Patrice Badami  0:02

Hi, this is Patrice Badami, with Acorn to Tree Family Podcast.   I’m really excited today to have Donovan Dreyer. He’s a team coach for generation Zers. And he has a background in guidance counseling, and he helps teams to take you know, take off in their lives moves towards their passions into a career of their dreams. So good morning, Jonathan. Good morning. Okay. Um, so yeah, we’re gonna jump right in and start talking about your background and educational coaching.


Donovan Dreyer 0:35

Okay, yeah, well, I’ve worked mainly with teenagers over the course of my career and was inspired by just the challenges that I saw happening, especially like with the Columbine shooting. So that’s what inspired me to get into school counseling as I just wanted to get myself into the front line before there was a term frontliners. So I wanted to put myself on the front lines with the kids and being able to tune into and figure out why the kind of thing like a shooting would happen, or I saw a lot of self harm, too. And so really wanting to get in front of that and kind of figure out what’s the optimal way we can make our mental health as good as possible, you know, to kind of proactively address some of these big things that have happened. So 17 years with high school students, I got a cool chance for three years to work at my daughter’s school at the elementary school level, so one of my three daughters. And then I’ve also worked with grownups with business coaching, because there’s no more powerful way to learn what you need to know than teaching somebody. So I’m teaching what I need to learn right now, too, when it comes to business coaching. So that’s been a fun thing for the last five years,


Patrice Badami  1:41

right? Well, that sounds amazing. I like how you’re, you’re taking the students and adults in hand, helping to guide them and work through whatever issues they may possibly have, validate those feelings and then move forward in being productive for their future and tapping into whatever their dreams may be. So that’s really great. I remember when I was in high school, I was given a sheet that had little, I suppose, take a pencil and bubble in or you’re good at math. And then somehow they came, they actually came out to be talk show hosts. So I thought that was kind of interesting. But anyway, I said that they were interesting. Alright, so what have you mentioned about some of the different educational populations that you’ve worked with? You work with grammar school, students, maybe Junior High in high school? So that makes sense. It’s what you were. Yeah. For the generation Zers? Yeah, right. Um, okay. So what are some ways that parents and caregivers can help guide their children into a career that they are really passionate about? On the homefront?


Donovan Dreyer 2:45

Yeah, well, I mean, I blew it at the bubbling. And when I was in college, I went into college undecided. And I think that’s, I think that’s a mistake. I think we should go out into life, because I can’t really go anywhere on my phone. If I pull up the map app, I can’t just say, you know, I’m undecided. Siri, can you help me out here? Yeah, worked out. So yeah, other things are to get decided, you know, get a better vision, get clarity, and then constantly go after your mission in life that you want to go in. So, you know, caregivers and educators and parents, what I would say is I do have a downloadable PDF on my website, for setting and going after your less lofty life goals, because then it gets hard to have this conversation. So there’s about six questions, and I definitely would not pepper the kids with six questions. You might need to pick your spots on that. And I’ve got another one that I’ve recently created two, called dare to dream and another one called the career choice cheat code. So I’m working on that one still, but I’ve got a few things that if they want to reach out to me on my website, get ready They can get the latest download or they can just reach out to me at Donovan at get ready coaching.


Patrice Badami 4:03

Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. Definitely don’t pepper them with questions because they’ll end up you know, backing off shutting down, you don’t want that. You have to ease into it, have them guide the discussion. Have them come to you know, provide them with a you know, if you have any questions, let me know. The other thing I was gonna say is it’s really important. Like when you do go to college undecided and I’m not saying that’s, you know, bad for everyone. But think about it this way. If you go in undecided, you might be taking courses you don’t need and perhaps wasting a little bit of time and also we all know how expensive college is. So you know what, before you even get there to make it the most rich experience for you. You should probably consider maybe even internships, getting doing some things over the summer that are purposeful, that help you to kind of sift through different opportunities and see which one’s the best fit for you. So before you even think about going to college. How soon do you think students should start thinking and planning ahead? Would you say Junior High? Would you say? What would you say for that?


Donovan Dreyer 5:10

Well, my poor daughters it was before they were 10.


Patrice Badami  5:15

Honestly, that’s not, that’s not bad.


Donovan Dreyer 5:17

Yeah, I’ve got one daughter that attends a cinema makeup school in LA, she just went there last month. She’s 19. And that is hyper specific. And I don’t think she would have figured that out and gotten such an out of the box, you know, approach to her future without those conversations starting early. And my other daughter, we just went and visited a school that really specialized in business like no other like every single kid gets a business administration degree. But they still have some of those Gen Ed’s. So there are electives, you get some chance to take some things that are not totally related to your field at this school. But I think we’re well served to actually start this as soon as possible, and get more and more and more clarity. I mean, I just went in completely undecided, and filled in my little bubbles too. And I just think we need to get more clarity. Yeah, maybe some people are gonna go undecided. And it’s unavoidable. But you better have $1,000 a year to spend to


Patrice Badami  6:16

write that’s exactly what I’m saying. That’s exactly it. I mean, you can expose your children, my daughter’s a Girl Scout, I’m a girl scout leader, you can start there and start visiting a vet and go behind the scenes at a restaurant. These are the reasons why scouting can be such a great experience because you can be exposed to different vocations, just by earning badges and whatnot. So that’s one that’s like, if you want to start thinking about younger children doing that, um, let me ask you this. How do you coach teens to get ready to live meaningful lives? Once that you’ve gotten them? How do you help them guide them towards college? They’re in college? And how could you help them in that way?


Donovan Dreyer 7:00

Well, some kids aren’t hired hardwired for that. I mean, I definitely had some I had to pull kicking and screaming by the ear, just to graduate as a school counselor. And, you know, maybe most kids are average. And as a school counselor, like you have such a huge amount of kids to serve, that their motivation levels are all over the map. So for me, one of the things that’s most powerful is kids have to want to have the or they actually have to have the basics out of the way. So you got to have the fundamentals in place. And you got to be pretty good at the basics. If we’re going to look at meaningful and purposeful life, we have to take care of the basics. So you know, therapy and counseling and things like that are really good for that baseline, or getting extra help in school, when you’re struggling with your grades. Those are the fundamentals and basics. So to even think about getting, like a purposeful and meaningful life set up. That foundational stuff is so so so important. From there, you know, it’s not every student that’s going to have that desire for something more meaningful and purposeful. So I kind of think like the bell curve, I want those kids that are already super interested in creating one. And they’re just confused, I’m thinking about one more than a person that I’m going to follow up with. And they, they don’t have the help, but they’re so hungry, to get that meaningful, purposeful life figured out. So that’s step number one, or step number two is if you got that foundation in place, and you’re already hungry. Now step three, let’s get some coaching going. So you actually have some support, and somebody that’s really also super excited about helping you figure out how to create that meaningful career. And then parents are part of that equation, too. We have to have a whole team approach. So just like it takes a village to raise a little child, it takes a team of support, and, you know, strategy, a strategic leg expert like myself, to help kids actually get that piece put into place because that’s a high level to go for meaningful and purpose in life.


Patrice Badami  8:58

Right. I was gonna say and in addition to helping there the first step, helping students to consider whichever college and whatever degree they’re interested in, you’ll also be able to guide students who are interested in vocational, you know, careers as well, which was very important to explain, explain to the listeners. So, um, in those areas you’re able to do they have internships that are, can you help guide people locally? The ones that you work with locally towards internships that are meaningful and early jobs and whatnot.


Donovan Dreyer 9:34

Like informational interviews, like you said, are important. I didn’t interview an airline Captain until I finished my entire aviation degree. When he had kind of like, just a twinkle in his eye and a serious spark for that. I thought, I want to have that for myself. I want to have a career like that. Right. Fortunately, I got all the way to the end before I even got a good interview with somebody to see what it’s really like. Right? Then, you know, just his excitement for it made me feel like, I have to find something like that. So I would definitely say, and I’m doing this with my own daughters, like, earn and learn at the same time. So if you can get internships or maybe community service, doing something for free, that’s great. But if you get something that’s a paying gig, you know, even if it’s customer service at a coffee shop, that’s pretty important. So if you’re kind of more introverted, then you might just get the coffee shop job, just to get better at communicating and talking to people. So it’s super, super helpful to think about what we’re learning while we’re earning money. And then if you can get even more specific, that’s even better, so that you can get more of a feel for a career that you’re interested in. One of my local students, she’s done things within the medical realm, like helping out getting a job at an elder care facility. So that’s really helpful for her to see if nursing is going to be a fit, right? Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great, great idea.


Patrice Badami 11:04

Yeah. And I was gonna say, here in New York, there’s for children with special needs, whatever they may be, there are facilities called like, for example, access VR, helps children with IEPs, as soon as they’re assigned an IP helps to guide them through high school, and then guide them towards either vocational starting their own business or going to college. And they provide things like help, if you’re in the program, you can get driving lessons, so that you have the ability to drive. They help you with coaching, and they help you with resume building, interviewing. So if your child has special needs, contact your school district and see if they know different agencies nearby that will be able to help also check with you. You can look under the government under children with disabilities. There are different resources there, if you go on to that. Another thing is to bear in mind is that sometimes if a child has special needs, that you know, going backwards into the high school setting, oftentimes parents can request life skills training, which life skills here, you know, ones that I’ve experienced, includes banking, how to take care of banking, General Motor, taking care of your car on a very basic level. And these, these are life skills that a lot of parents are pushing to have included in the curriculum in high school, so that once they start their job, and they have a problem with their car, or they need to know how to deposit a check, these are things that are available. And I’m sure that that’s something you’ve experienced, you know, do basic life skills courses on the high school as well as early college level. So that’s something you should definitely consider to help your child move forward rather than being moved towards that goal of being out of the nest on their own and being sufficient, you know, self sufficient, what exactly you had mentioned briefly in your set lofty life goals guide. So that’s something that people can download, and help your child to work through this guide, and really prepare and start opening up the box and looking towards the future. What else? Could you tell us about that?


Donovan Dreyer 13:20

Yeah, well, it’s just tough to start these conversations. And a lot of kids we get, you know, with our kids, they’ve heard everything we have to say, so we don’t really have anything else they haven’t heard yet, right? We have so much wisdom and advice that we’d love to give them. But I just made a post the other day that, you know, our kids need our attention more than they need our advice. What I’m definitely all about is empowering kids and drawing out their genius, you know, so whatever, whatever kind of, we all have struggles in life. But I think we also all have that kind of thing that that captain for the airlines hat as well, we got to we got a special gift, or a special interest in something as well. So these questions help extract out. So this is the thing about good questions, helps us draw out the things that really matter. And so sometimes we’re like asking a kid, what do you want to do when you grow up? And then I don’t know. So it kind of breaks it down to like, what are some maybe your personal interests, relationships, friendships to be when you grow up in your career, the money that you would want to earn, maybe the impact you’d want to have with your health, which you’d like your health to be like? So getting more specific on these questions can really help and picking one at a time. It might be one day or one per week.


Patrice Badami  14:36

Yeah, like make a chart up. Right, like make up a chart and on the chart, have the different things you’re really interested in could be martial arts, for example, could be graphic computer graphics. A friend of mine loved yarn. He used to finish people’s knitting projects. Now he’s selling yarn he creates and he’s huge. He does both knitting. He’s amazing. Easy, I remember seeing him when he was just working in a yogurt store and he was telling me about needles. So take something that you’re interested in, and he has a huge website. And now with the help of social media, you can begin a career, that could be something that could really push you to do more, you like makeup, maybe you can start representing a makeup company. So that’s great. That’s something that I didn’t have when I was growing up. We didn’t have social media, and you can use it as a tool to jumpstart your career as well. What are some ways teens fall into making decisions for their future that may lead them into a career that they are not really passionate about?


Donovan Dreyer 15:39

Um, well, I just think like waiting on it, you know, just going through the motions of doing math, science, English, social studies, foreign language, and doing all this stuff, and middle school, high school. And most people procrastinate on this, and they just will suddenly be up against these major decisions and have ability and they’re not equipped to make them and they don’t experiment. So failure to experiment outside the box of what’s in the schools. As a challenge, like my daughter, who’s at the cinema makeup school, she started during the pandemic, doing her makeup looks on Instagram, and Tiktok. And so she’s got what I call a 2.0 day resume. We’d hand in a resume, we still hand in a resume, or you put it on, or some kind of website like that. But she created her portfolio over these last two years, two and a half years, by just putting the first look second look 1020 Exactly though she loves getting your portfolio right out there in the world and experimenting to after why you might like losing interest, and then you’re you can cross it off the list. But her interest just went up and up and up and up. So we should definitely gauge the interest, just parents’ interest? Is it pushed by other kids that are doing something like Best Buddies? Or is it genuine? And we have to really kind of have some of those conversations about, you know, is this something that you like? Or is it not something you like, are you not doing enough, try a bunch of different classes in schools, try a bunch of different activities, so that you get the chance to experiment enough to really land on that one. That’s super exciting, because otherwise, without that experimentation and trying things, you will never find it. Yeah, and


Patrice Badami  17:19

You know, it’s like , for example, you’re telling your daughter about makeup. Here with our BOCES program, they have cosmetology, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to also consider maybe a local community college or a four school college later. But for now, while you’re in high school, you can definitely take some of those vocational courses in the area that you’re interested in. And then build on your high school and college degree. Also, you can get a business degree and you also have the experience vocationally actually getting out into the world so you can take advantage of the different things available. And there’s a lot available. There’s different types of art classes available in high schools. There’s definitely graphic design, there’s studio production, there’s so many different things. So take advantage. Take a look and see what your high school as well as your there’s a lot of different rec centers, and they offer lots of different sewing different types of horses nearby. So what should teens do when should they begin the college search? You kind of touched on that you said maybe even as early as just the beginning of junior high, which here would be sixth grade? Start thinking about it? 


Donovan Dreyer 18:28

Yeah, college search as much as like the passions, the interest, the passions, careers, you know, having those conversations. So I mean, thinking about the end and the beginning of puzzles, like a puzzle pieces you and where you want to go in life is where the puzzle is, like I’m doing that, doing that search of the different types of careers and talking to people and finding out what they’re about. And having these conversations about what would you like life to be like my youngest daughter has way different interests like, travel and maybe the type of home she’d want to live in. And some of the material items, and my other two daughters are not as focused on that. So each kid is super different. So just getting a good sense of who they are and where they want to go. Then we put in the path to where we want to go. That’s true to Siri on the phone, when we know both parts, where are you and where do you want to go right here you’ll fix that really quick. So we got to figure out where we are and where we want to go. Then it could be college then it could be you know, vocational school only it could be vocational school with


Patrice Badami 19:32

could be the armed forces to


Donovan Dreyer 19:35

do that. And he went into the academy and his grades were too low to get into an academy. And then he got his best semester ever and then all A’s and then, you know, then he really got his opportunities opened back up again, which he was about to shut down. If he could turn things around and he didn’t have the connection to you know, this in between time there all these classes to do well in high school before he graduates that he didn’t learn Like, but if he thought about the end goal, and he had to do better path, that’s what really helped him out is getting focused on that end goal.


Patrice Badami 20:09

Yeah. And like you know, as a family, you can expose your children by visiting different different places going traveling around a little bit, maybe, maybe you go to maybe you a SeaWorld, and you go behind the scenes and talk to a marine biologist, these are different things that you can do to help support and pull out the interest in your child and also to help you become closer to them, having them be able to have the ability to speak to you more openly as they get older, the more you expose them to, let’s see. So what are some great tips for teens in choosing, we discuss choosing the college of their dreams? Again, we just don’t want to be redundant here. But I just wrote these questions. What else would you like to share with us about what you’re doing? What’s up and coming?


Donovan Dreyer 20:52

Yeah, I think what’s happening right now is we’re at a shift when it comes to education all together. You know, if we really look at college versus not college, I think for about 5060 years, the assumption is college. And that’s going to be the answer. Now, when we look backwards, that’s totally been true, you can get some of the best jobs by having any old degree, it doesn’t matter if you’re undecided, undecided. But I think that’s shifting right now we’re looking, you know, forward into the future into a kind of a parabolic amount of change happening in our world, technology wise, and just the upheaval kind of things going on in the world and how we’re trying to get along with each other how we’re navigating the phone, which could be a serious danger, versus a serious, great tool, depending on you know, whether you’re falling into the traps and get manipulated on the phone. Or if you’re using it wisely. So I think when we look at navigating the road going forward, it’s an unknown road, there’s a lot of unknown variables. So think when you look at well, why would you want to have support from somebody that could help you in navigating this tumultuous changing times? I think that’s what’s really important is we need to beef up our support system, in order to handle the many different changes that are happening in the world and to be able to catch up, if things are changing rapidly, we need to catch up as much as possible. We think about somebody like Michael Phelps, having eight coaches, when he was already the best swimmer in the world, then all of us could certainly use more support. I mean, I’ve got a coach this whole year planned out for 2020 301, for all 2022. And almost all the last year in the last 11 years. I’ve had somebody in my corner, that’s there cheering me on, rooting me on and also doing the tough love of like, okay, where are you not doing what you need to do? So?


Patrice Badami  22:37

That helps. Yeah, I have a mentor, as well concerning my website and what to do and what not to do. Yeah, so that makes sense to have someone as a support system, who is impartial and outside your family, so that you’re able to, you know, they’ll be able to you know how children are, they’re able to speak a little more clearly a little bit more openly to someone who isn’t quite right in their family space. So it’s always good to have an impartial, objective opinion, to help guide a child or a young adult who’s navigating the New World. So you know what, tell us about your website, your courses, and everything that you’re offering to help guide people.


Donovan Dreyer 23:20

Yeah, the teen takeoff program is definitely all about those kids that are what we call all the high school counselors call them the high fliers. So some of the kids that don’t have, like critical needs or a crisis, they just kind of get kicked to the curb. So I’m kind of embracing those kids. And it’s not just for college applications and essays, I actually would refer to somebody else. I’ve got a good partner that’s good for, you know, helping kids with the college process. But what I’m all about is actually doing the soul searching and helping kids figure out well, what are my dreams? And what kind of skills do I actually need to use when I grow up? If I don’t use math, science, English social studies and foreign language as much, what are the real skills Seth Godin calls these the real skills that we need, like they’re called soft skills as well. But these are so important now, for kids to be able to be adaptable. And these high flyers are really looking to be leaders, they’re really looking to be impact players in the game of life. So my team takeoff program is really perfectly designed for those kids that want that big edge to be the difference makers of the future. You know, I’m a professional helper and a social innovator and a change agent for people and I want the next round of kids to have somebody supporting them so they can go out and kind of make that positive difference they want to make in the world. So that’s my teen takeoff program. And it’s also 20 somethings in there as well. So I just helped some kids figure out their major and finalize that I helped a kid figure out his study abroad plans. I helped another kid come from South Africa to the US to play soccer in college. Wow. That’s, yeah, those are the kinds of kids that I love working with because there’s not enough Support for them, because it’s like, you’re already got to figure it out. Well not to kind of become the amazing leaders we need. I think there’s a kind of issue with our leadership these days. And we need higher quality leaders. So if we start earlier, and give those kids support, then I think they’ll turn out to be the kind of difference makers and leaders that we’d be proud of in the future. And so the website is Get ready. This is where you can usually find my latest download. And, yeah, I also have a process if people are seriously interested, then I can give the application website as well, which is just Donovan, dot get ready.


Patrice Badami  25:37

Okay. Yeah. And I was just gonna say, there’s also you also have a Facebook group


Donovan Dreyer 25:44

that I gotta face, but I usually do most of the work I do right on my personal Facebook page. So you can just friend me on Facebook, for sure. Okay, so


Patrice Badami  25:52

Do you have  Facebook group?


Donovan Dreyer 25:56

Yeah, I do have a Facebook group for school counselors. So it’s really kind of more specific for school counselors. But so you can just get a hold of me, right, right through my personal page, and right through Facebook Messenger, or Instagram messenger. I’m very


Patrice Badami  26:10

Instagram, and then Twitter, possibly LinkedIn. And you also there,


Donovan Dreyer 26:14

I’m everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.


Patrice Badami  26:17

Yeah, we’re gonna have all the different information on Donovan available on the website. And also on Anchor podcast, you’re gonna have it a little bit on Spotify, on all the major podcast platforms in the next few days. And then we’ll be on the website probably by the end of the week or so. But listen, thank you so much. Donovan Dreier came to talk to us this morning with his Get ready website. He has a lot of great information to help bridge the gap between completing perhaps whatever courses you need to take, and actually moving forward. He bridges that gap with support and it’s just a great idea. It’s a really helpful concept. And it’s going to be life changing for not just the student but for the family knowing that there’s extra support. So please feel free to reach out to Donovan on this. You can reach out to him through messenger on Facebook, find them on all the social media platforms and definitely check out once again, get rid of Donovan, thanks so much for joining us today. It really was very, very helpful. I’m sure you provide a lot of information to families today. And everyone out there. Everyone out there. Thanks again for listening to the acorn to tree family podcast.

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