The Art of Running (2)


Olivia Willoughby 

  • Co-host on Burnt Out educator
  • 8th-grade art teacher

Olivia As Student

  • Olivia’s father was in the military, so her family moved 10 times before she graduated.
  • She describes school as being the scariest, yet safest, place. 
  • In many ways, the public school systems across the United States are very similar.
  • This similarity and continuity gave Olivia the opportunity to connect with others, even if they themselves never moved.
  • Additionally, it gave Olivia the comfort of knowing what to expect day to day, school to school.

“I was forced to not run away from my problems. How am I supposed to deal with my emotions if I can’t run away? I guess I’ll create.”

Olivia’s Path to Education & Art

  • Throughout college, Olivia ran, dove, and took pottery classes while majoring in education and maintaining a 4.0
  • During her sophomore year, she had to undergo two surgeries, one on each leg.
  • These surgeries caused her to lose her outlet of running.
  • School was hard and she describes herself at the time as being extremely anxious.
  • At that point, she started making sculptures of her body parts as a way to process all she was going through physically and emotionally.
  • Near the end of her college career, Olivia realized she’d rather teach art than Spanish.
  • In the end, she decided to complete her student teaching in Spanish and take both the Spanish and Art tests to receive her teaching license. 

“They decided I could do it. Then I decided I could do it. So first I thought I wanted to teach Spanish. Then that was not the case.  I thought, okay, I want to teach art, but then I couldn’t do it exactly where I wanted to do it. And then, you know, all of a sudden, I’m doing it where I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it. And I’m teaching the subject I want to teach.” 

Olivia As Educator and Student

  • For various reasons, Olivia decided to pursue her master’s in education.
  • As she prepared to start the program, she thought of it as a means to an end.
  • However, her mindset quickly changed.
  • Her professors assigned books she enjoyed and encouraged connection and discussion.
  • While in undergrad, Olivia experienced a lot of fear of earning less than an A.
  • Throughout graduate school, this anxiety alleviated.
  • She realized, for the first time, that learning wasn’t about the grade.
  • Instead, learning is about the material and personal growth.
  • She learned to do the work of learning, rather than the work of turning in assignments. 

Olivia’s Desires As Educator

“I wanted to be someone within the system that saw kids like me, who felt like they were going to be sick every single day, who were scared of being here, but also needed to be here and find a place through class… When I have kids like that, I want them to know that I’ve been there every single day of my life. And that sometimes as their teacher I still feel like that.”

  • This ability to own something “shameful” induces a lot of surprise from the student
  • Desires to seep the love of learning into her students, little by little.
  • To retrain them that the grade isn’t what matters.

Why co-host Burnt Out Educator?

  • This is the type of conversation, learning, and growing that we as humans strive to find.
  • These conversations make us better and remind us what education was meant for.
  • I want to honor the experiences of other educators and be seen in my experience.
  • I’m happy to be part of a podcast that’s creating more human beings that know that they can be, and are human beings. 

Beyond Healing Center


Beyond Healing Media

Interested in supporting a child? 

  • 100% of the proceeds donated to the Burnt Out Educator will provide therapy for a child in the public school system. 
  • Not therapy capped at a certain number, but an open-ended relationship with a highly qualified therapist in the BHC network. 

The End of the Infinite Ladder (1)

Level Up. 
  • The purpose of college is to pursue financial security for his family.
  • After a brief stint in international business, Ryan switched to education.
  • While he enjoyed connecting with students, he knew he couldn’t earn enough as a teacher
  • So, he devised a plan to become superintendent.
  • Ryan’s plan detailed how he would move from one level to the next
  • He was offered his first teaching job at the local deaf magnet school
  • He successfully completed his master’s during his 4th  (out of 5 mandatory years) years at Parkview and started applying for administration jobs in that 5th year.
  • 18 months into his assistant principal job he started applying for principal jobs. 
  • When he accepted the principal position, he knew there was major work to be done to ensure he continued to be successful in leveling up.
  • During his principalship, Ryan held and led others in the belief that if a teacher worked hard enough, they could have 100% of their students be proficient on state standards.

Ryan and Objectivity

  • Throughout his career, Ryan had this desire to create connections for students and educators.
  • While wanting others to connect in this vulnerable way, he was unable to meet their vulnerability.
  • Many educators hold themselves in similar capacities of longing for connection but presenting themselves as objects.
  • Additionally, Ryan was so focused on the plan, that opportunities for anything outside of it didn’t make much sense.
  • Finally, there was too much risk in experiencing affect and it going negatively.
  • So he stuck to the plan and used his strategies to be of service in these temporary roles.

Finding Subjectivity 

  • Regardless of how hard he worked, how much time he spent away from his family, how perfect his strategy was, he was unable to reach 100% proficiency in student scores.
  • Racked with shame, he had to let go of the object he’d polished for so long.
  • Ryan was forced to choose between gritting his teeth and bearing it for the next 20 years or creating a new object.
  • So, he spent a lot of time strategizing on what might that other object be and how to provide for his family.
  • He had to divorce himself from the dream he’d been chasing, the plan he’d been working.


“What I’ve learned is there is no strategy to meet that goal. There’s no single strategy that does that. The thing that has the capability of doing that is through connection, one to one, human to human, authentic, subjective connection.”

  • Further, maybe inviting someone into vulnerability and having an impact on them is greater than what any strategy could offer.
  • Maybe seeing the human, caring and showing positive regard, and loving them for who they are and who they aren’t, is more powerful than teaching them the strategy to help them meet the objective they think they need to meet.

Beyond Healing Center

Beyond Healing Media

Interested in supporting a child? 

  • 100% of the proceeds contributed to the Burnt Out Educator will support providing therapy for a child in the public school system. 
  • Not therapy capped at a certain number, but an open-ended relationship with a highly qualified therapist in the BHC network.

Introducing Burnt Out Educator (0)

Welcome to the Burnt Out Educator 

Meet Ryan Savage

  • The Burnt Out Educator
  • Current Executive Director of Beyond Healing Center
  • Retired/Resigned Educator
  • This podcast is about revealing the human in the 7th-grade girl’s basketball coach putting in many hours for practice, traveling, and games – all while sacrificing those hours in their personal life.

“I made these concessions of the things that felt good to me or that I wanted to pursue, but found these barriers inside education… There were portions that felt almost dehumanizing, that if I’m going to find success in that space, then I need to meet this list of criteria, some of which may be compromising to what I either desire or who I am as a person.”

Meet Olivia Willoughby

  • Co-Host
  • Currently in her 5th year of teaching
  • Teaches 8th-grade art
  • I create my classroom to make space as often as possible to say, hey, we’re creating and we’re doing what we need to do, but what’s more important is who you are. 

“It’s about the people in the room learning, myself, and the other adults in the building, every single human. They have a purpose and a place. I think that’s exactly what we want to discuss on here.” 

Burnt Out Educator

  • The education system is massively influential to the makeup of the US
  • The Burnt Out Educator is an interview-based podcast where we talk about this system from a grassroots perspective.
  • At BOE, we place immense value in hearing people’s stories.
  • Because it is only through these diverse stories, we can hope to see the larger system clearly.
  • Importantly, we want to hear stories all along the spectrum.
  • From burnt out to thriving, we want to hear the experiences of educators and students.
  • Understand, there is no interest in convincing educators to leave education.
  • Put simply we are inviting humans to see themselves as humans. 

Burnt Out ———————————————————————- Thriving

Questions for the listener

  • Can you allow your humanness to come through your role as an educator?
  • Does it feel confronting to you when a student needs you to be more than just their teacher?
  • Are you willing to put techniques and knowledge about a specific subject matter aside to talk about what’s happening in their lives outside of the room?
  • Is the relationship between teacher and student a means to an end? Is it something that needs to be leveraged to achieve a goal? 

Subjectivity & Objectivity

When you’re seeing me, you’re meeting every moment I’ve ever been in.

  • Objectivity: the role of educator
    • The robot
    • “You’re the art teacher, they’re all a bit out there.” 
  • Subjectivity: the human that plays the role
    • “No, I do this because I’m Olivia.”
    • When you’re seeing me, you’re meeting every moment I’ve ever been in
  • Intersubjective space: the space between two subjects
    • How it felt for Olivia to see the student showing up needing more than her objectivity 
    • The sum is greater than the parts

There’s tension between objectivity and subjectivity, an interpersonal conflict between the profession and what it expects.

Maybe we’re all just humans. 

  • Seeing the humanity in yourself and others
  • When you start to pay attention to the ways we understand humans emerge throughout their lifetime, you realize you are different after every experience you have. 
  • We notice the big ones, the influential, the traumatic moments.
  • But you’re also different from one room to another.
  • For example, Olivia’s contemplation of what was going on with a student who threw a pencil across the room and screamed a cuss word.
  • Instead of following some strict protocol, she saw the student as the full human with life before and after her class.

Our Invitation to Interviewees.

  • BOE is inviting educators into this space with the hope of seeing them through these questions:
  • Why did you choose education? Why do you enjoy working with kids?
    • Did you meet that objective?
    • What cost are you willing to endure to sacrifice your subjectivity to meet that objective?
  • Is education a career? A job? A joy? Can it be all of them?
    • How does that change over time?
    • What’s the story behind that answer?
  • How do you navigate the persistent conflict between impossible expectations and caring for your students? Objectivity and subjectivity?
  • What’s it like to be a member of a system that’s perpetually labeled as broken? Who or what is the problem? Who or what is the solution?


We’re not here to tell people how to be. We are not here to tell them what to be, or how to live. We’re here to see human beings that happen to participate in the same community (education) and give them validation of “please, share, because we would love to hear.”

Goals of the Burnt Out Educator

  • Provide a space for educators to tell their stories
  • Provide an opportunity for the listener to come, connect, and feel what’s in this room. 
  • Here’s the big one: donations made from listeners like you will provide therapy from highly trained therapists to children.
  • Not band-aid therapy capped at 10 sessions (or any arbitrary number).
  • Instead, therapy that facilitates deep change and an invitation to feeling safe in connection with another.

Interested in supporting a child? 

Beyond Healing Center

Beyond Healing Media