Slade Thackeray is the experiential learning coordinator for the kinesiology program in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. Before assuming the role in June 2018, he worked as educational program assistant for the college’s 4-H KidSpirit program. He has also served as director of Young Artists Playtrium and instructor at Dallas High School in Dallas, Oregon. Slade has a Master of Arts degree in counseling from George Fox University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English writing from Western Oregon University.
What made you decide to get into this field? Is there one specific moment that inspired your career path?
“At heart, I am a teacher through and through – that’s my field. Where I’m teaching and what I’m teaching has varied through the years, but it almost always includes teaching others how to believe in themselves and to achieve their fullest potential. I think every time I start to veer away from teaching my ‘spidy-sense’ starts tingling and I know that I need to get back on my path – those are the moments that inspire me and help me to see I’m right where I want to be.”
What do you love about your field? What energizes you?
“I love problem solving. Teaching and coordinating are always a puzzle. I love a good puzzle – existential ones. You won’t find me sitting around a literal puzzle very often. I get energized by the problems or dilemmas others feel are unsolvable or too hard to come back to. I like asking questions and working smarter until the problem unravels to reveal its true nature: the solution.”
Why did you choose to work at Oregon State/CPHHS?
“I worked for some time in the non-profit sector and then with a private company, but knew that I needed to get back to teaching. Like I said, that ‘spidy-sense’ brings me back every time. The timing was serendipitous, and OSU had a brand new opening with 4-H KidSpirit. It helped that I worked at KidSpirit during my undergrad, but I wouldn’t change that decision for the world, because CPHHS is one of the loveliest places to call home.”
What is your favorite part about working as the experiential learning coordinator? What does this entail?
“Experiential learning is the perfect package of problem solving, teaching, mentoring and helping people reach their potential. Right now, I’m prepping classes and getting ready for the tsunami of students come fall, but during the school year I will be teaching courses and working to improve experiential learning for kinesiology students and for other students within CPHHS.”
What has been your proudest moment so far?
“When my three children apologize or say kind things without being asked.”
How do you strive to affect people’s lives with your work?
“I try to model what I hope to see in my students and in my colleagues. Honesty, integrity, kindness, love, bravery – these are things I try to embody every day in the hopes to see them reflected back in the people I work with.”
What is one surprising thing about you that not many people know?
“It seems strange to say this, but not very many people in my current setting know that I sing, mostly Broadway and opera, and that I spent a few years performing in amateur productions around Oregon. I’ve sung for my whole life, but it’s not something that comes up in conversations.”
What are your favorite activities outside of work?
“Playing with my kids, solving the world’s problems with my wife, writing poetry, watercolor painting and sketching, reading, running and folding laundry (it is very relaxing).”