There's no telling whose voice you may hear on Heather Lyke's and Nick Truxal's podcast. One episode, it may be a leading expert on early reading. Another time, it may be the Twin-Cities based musician Dessa.
No matter the personalities or professions, there is a thread connecting one guest to the next: They are all people Lyke and Truxal have learned from, people they admire. And, as Truxal put it, they're people who are "trying to foster humanity."
The podcast is one element of the website Lyke and Truxal founded, called Third Eye Education. It's a reference to three "i" words: inspire, influence and innovate. It's essentially a project to help people think in new and different ways... A project to stretch their own learning, and meet some insightful people in the process.
Really, it's all about growth and learning, regardless of what form that may come in.
"Education's far broader than a school," Truxal said.
Until recently, both Lyke and Truxal worked for Dover-Eyota Public Schools. According to Lyke, the project began as a way to foster a multi-directional conversation between themselves and other people who thought in new or different ways.
"Dover-Eyota's a really small community, and as a small community, it's really easy for us to get caught in an echo chamber," Lyke said. "We really just wanted to do two things. One was we wanted to expand what we were hearing and thinking about, and the different lenses from which we viewed our own situations. And simultaneously, we thought some of our ideas were good."
From that desire to both learn from and share with others, Third Eye Education was born.
In addition to the podcast, the website also serves as a forum for articles. Lyke and Truxal recruited a handful of writers who contribute to the website's store of first-person articles, covering subjects like helping students create community or even seemingly simple things like getting a student's name right.
Their project has grown since they started it. They have a group of what they call "core collaborators," which includes educational leaders and teachers from across Southeast Minnesota — people like Tammy Champa, superintendent of Pine Island Public Schools; Norm Clark, administrative director of academic programs for University of Minnesota Rochester; and Bruce Ramsdahl, an adjunct professor with Winona State University.
Lyke referred to Mike Carolan, Dover-Eyota's superintendent, as the third podcast host, and the group as a whole as a "think tank."
"Here are people rooted in education in some way, shape or form that think outside the box. Let's toss this all into a think tank, and that's where it really came from," she said.
They haven't been shy about approaching big names they would like to have as guests. One was Lin-Manuel Miranda, the famed writer of the hit musical "Hamilton." Rather than turning the invitation down, he encouraged them to circle back with their request during a less busy time. Another guest they've sought out is first lady Jill Biden.
Overall, Third Eye Education doesn't seem all that different from something Dessa said when she was featured: "Take your curiosity seriously."
That seems to be just what Lyke and Truxal have been doing.