I have a hard time picking one colleague who I find most inspirational, because I look up to so many different colleagues for different things. I admire my many coworkers who find a way to balance families and young kids with their professional career. I hope to one day become like the teachers I work with who have been teaching for a long time but still seek out new ideas and want to try new things. I am in awe of my colleague who is pursuing a doctorate degree on top of all of her other responsibilities, because she wants to learn new things and reflect on her practice and on the profession of teaching. I have an ever-increasing respect for the administrators, coaches, and support staff who dedicate huge amounts of time outside the school day to create opportunities for students to be involved in activities and sports that have great impact on students’ lives. I am consistently inspired by the teachers in my PLN who make the time to share what they’re trying in their classrooms and learning on Twitter and their blogs.
But right now, I want to highlight my colleague, Brianne Kennedy-Brooks. She and I started teaching at York at the same time, although she has a couple more years of teaching experience than I do. We’re not in the same department (she teaches English), so I don’t see her very often. I remember sitting in a meeting with her at the beginning of my second year, and I was impressed by the care and concern she showed for students in our advisory program — kids who needed extra academic support and who had an even greater need for a “mama bear” to look out for them and give them loving correction. At some point, I realized that she went to church with one of my friends and that Brianne has a strong Christian faith. My Young Life kids who had her as a teacher talk about how they noticed Bible verses on her desk, and how that combined with the way she treated her students spoke powerfully to them, even when she wasn’t actually speaking about it at all. That’s the kind of teacher and person I aspire to be!
For the last year, Brianne has been fighting breast cancer, and she just had surgery last week. I admire her faith in God throughout this journey, even when life is not what was expected. She has been open about the process — letting both students and colleagues see where she gets her strength — and has continued to care for her students in the midst of all of this. Brianne, we are praying for your speedy recovery and can’t wait to see you back at York soon!