Raising the Bar: Championing Change in Education with James Whitehouse


Join host Jamie Mason Cohen in an inspiring conversation with James Whitehouse, the Head of Elmwood School and a TEC Canada member. By tuning in to this episode of The Leadership Standard podcast, you’ll discover the secrets to raising the bar in education and leadership, exploring innovative strategies that empower the next generation for unparalleled success post-graduation. James challenges the status quo, urging listeners to think beyond the ordinary, because education, he believes, should be nothing short of extraordinary.

The episode also explores the profound impact of female leadership and the need for strong male and female role models in our society. James passionately argues for inclusive education systems that offer equal opportunities to all children and underscores the importance of leaders treating others with kindness and respect.
Don’t miss out on this enlightening discussion that will leave you rethinking the future of education and leadership. Tune in now to gain valuable insights that could shape the way we prepare the leaders of tomorrow.

Episode Highlights:

  • 00:00 – Introduction Jamie Mason Cohen dives into a conversation with James Whitehouse—uncovering how James’ unique journey led him to run an educational institution as a business and also the growth it has brought him as a leader.
  • 00:05:00 James Whitehouse discusses the skills, attributes, and approaches that young girls, like his daughter and his students, will need for the future of work.
  • 00:10:00 James Whitehouse stresses the importance of teaching conflict resolution and emotional coaching to both students and adults. He shares how Elmwood School—an independent day school for girls located in Ottawa, teaching girls from pre-kindergarten to grade 12—has implemented emotional coaching for teachers, emphasizing that conflict can lead to growth.
  • 00:20:00 James emphasizes the vital role of students’ mental wellness, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting socialization gaps and the need for community support. He credits his mentors—including his TEC Chair, Tim Redpath, and his late father— for teaching him valuable lessons, including taking things one step at a time, embracing simplicity for effective outcomes, and trusting gut feelings. These lessons, he emphasizes, are crucial for leadership in the business world, too.
  • 00:25:00  James stresses the importance of trusting intuition by making mistakes and learning from failures. He advocates taking risks to develop informed gut instincts. Additionally, he highlights the significance of not tolerating poor behaviour, emphasizing that addressing it is vital for shaping a healthy environment in classrooms, workplaces, and other settings.
  • 00:35:00  James reflects on the challenges of running education as a business. Initially hesitant, he embraced the business approach for delivering quality education. Becoming a TEC Canada member, he learned from business leaders, transitioning to a higher leadership perspective, focusing on team empowerment. Understanding business metrics and organizational aspects was vital for his growth. Despite leadership’s loneliness, he finds support as a TEC Canada member, valuing a space for advice.
  • 00:50:00  James stresses female leadership’s impact, citing Angela Merkel and his mother as inspirations for their belief, forgiveness, and understanding of complexities. He advocates diverse role models for students, fostering varied perspectives. James wishes for inclusive, safe educational environments enabling self-development and world-changing opportunities for all children. He emphasizes the need for higher education standards, underscoring leaders’ role in setting examples with kindness and respect.
  • 00:55:00 Jamie Mason Cohen admires Whitehouse’s leadership at Elmwood, hoping his daughter can receive a similar education. Whitehouse encourages hope for inclusive education systems. The episode concludes, emphasizing leaders are made, not born, and invites subscriptions for more insights from diverse fields.

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About The Leadership Standard Podcast

The Leadership Standard, hosted by TEC Canada speaker and leadership development and resilience expert, Jamie Mason Cohen, features in-depth conversations with subject matter experts all across the business spectrum.

Featuring thought leadership and actionable insights to challenge your assumptions – and inspiring stories of business triumphs, struggles, and perseverance that provide a motivational push – every episode of The Leadership Standard is a revealing discussion about the life of business and the business of life.

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