My name is Emilie Brick and a big part of my identity is where I am from and my family history. I was born in Ontario, Canada where I lived in a small farm town. Both my parents were immigrants. My father is from England and my mother is from France. My father immigrated when he was very young, while my mother did so as an adult. They both decided after having me and my brother that another immigration was in order. That is when they moved to the state of Arizona. I would dive deeper into the complicated details, of which there are many, and the effects all of this had on who I am today, but I fear that it would take away from the focus of the assignment.
I am generally kind, outgoing, and very friendly. I am mostly a rule follower but when the rules are not logical, I will challenge them – in a respectful way, of course. I consider myself to be fairly rational but can be silly and mischievous too. I get a kick out of harmless pranks and enjoy being around people with a sense of humor. I am a true extrovert and feel my best when I am out with friends.
Outside of work, I enjoy going on adventures in nature and around the city, and I have recently become fascinated with Tiny Doors ATL (https://tinydoorsatl.com/), which I would highly recommend. I am happiest when I am outside camping, hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking, and sitting by a fire pit. Ironically, I hate, hate, hate insects, and I am allergic to most things outside. I actively work on accepting all creatures but draw the line when it comes to them inside my house. I have also been getting allergy shots for the past 8 months. Hopefully, my allergies will no longer prevent me from enjoying my time outside.
My husband, Casey, and I have been together for 11 years. We own a dog, Nellie, that we take on hikes and love to play with. Last year we bought our first home, and we spend a lot of time making improvements and working on special projects such as designing a piece of work art or building a picnic table. I am pretty handy. I have done a tiled backsplash in my kitchen, helped build an interior sliding door, build a fire pit in our backyard, and do general repairs around the house. Recently, house stuff has taken up most of my free time, which means I get to spend time with my favorite person, Casey!
As for my career and professional self, I work at The Children’s School as a lead 3’s/4’s (preschool) teacher. The Children’s School is an amazing place where passion for honoring childhood meets teaching in today’s society. We focus on play-based and project-based learning in a diverse environment that makes teaching anti-bias curriculum a priority. The school is preschool through 8th grade. I teach 16 three and four-year-old students while managing and mentoring two associate teachers. My students come from diverse families, backgrounds, and cultures. Using the school philosophies, I partner with new and experienced families to guide the development of their children. I work on aligning their expectations with what the school offers and what is appropriate for the age group.
Another aspect of my current position is assisting Early Learning faculty in complying with Bright from the Start licensing requirements for our daily practices and in our school environment. Outside of the safety side of our school and classroom environments, I am expected to design an environment that supports the growth, development, social and emotional learning, and building a foundation of academic skills of young students. Using the Reggio Amelia philosophy, we are able to make the environment another teacher, therefore, creating an optimal learning space is crucial. The Reggio Amelia philosophy plays a great role in lesson and curriculum planning, too. It provides the right basis for child centered learning and instruction. For those of you unfamiliar with this, we observe the interests of the children in our room and design explorations around that.
In addition to teaching and planning, I serve on several school committees. These include the Head Advisory, STEAM, Reggio Amelia program, and Admission Tours and Panel committees. On the Head Advisory Committee I work with our Head of School to get a pulse on the faculty and staff moral and how to support it. As part of the STEAM committee, I help manage and plan for the use of our school’s STEAM grant. In the Reggio Amelia Program Committee, I support the consistent integration of this philosophy in our Early Learning program on track. While serving in the Admissions Tours and Panel, I work closely with the Admissions team to help find ways to display what our school has to offer in an efficient way and answer questions about my program to visiting families.
My values seem to all revolve around the idea of being a good person. Some of my specific values include modestly, reliability, loyalty, open-mindedness, honesty, compassion, positivity, environmentalism, communication, and respect. I feel strongly that one needs to be the change they want to see in the world. Sadly, challenges of everyday life have made this harder and harder to do. I have a tendency to feel insecure and benefit from reassurance. When living to be the change you want to see in the world, one often does not reap the benefits or see the proof of the hard work exerted. This feels especially true in my current career because I consistently work with children, families, coworkers, and supervisors in a capacity where there is a good chance that I will never reap any benefits. I put everything into what I do year after year and rarely experience the difference I have made. I keep doing my best for each individual and in each situation with the hopes that each small effort will make the change I want to see in the world. I do it because it is the right thing to do. I have really made an effort to switch my focus from major successes to small victories.
While I generally try to remain modest in life, I have a few professional accomplishments that I am proud of. First of which is having successfully been a lead teacher for seven years and a manager of associate teachers for five years. After observing the way I manage and provide support for my associate teachers in their growth and continued professional development, my supervisors have consistently asked me to mentor new and struggling teachers. This is such a great source of pride because I am able to combine my love of helping people with the using and passing along skills I have worked so hard to develop.
One of my bigger accomplishments is my design of the first Pre-K STEM curriculum for the Chandler Unified School District. What makes this such a great accomplishment for me is that fact that I was not actively seeking out this role. I accepted another position in the school district, but at the last minute, I was informed that I would be switching schools and teaching a new Pre-K program that the school was piloting for the district. On top of that, there was no prior STEM curriculum developed and the program was going to start in just a couple of weeks! I had to take the current curriculum and redesign it to be more aligned with STEM practices in an extremely short period of time. I had to attend countless STEM and STEAM professional developments and adapted what I was doing while teaching full time. I grew so much that year! The best part of it all is that my STEM curriculum is still used to this day, and the program I help pilot has expanded to four sites.
Another accomplishment comes from my current place of work. I continually push to make our program more developmentally appropriate and support my students and their families in anyway I can. One way I have done this is by advocating and developing a progress report for the early learning grades that is more developmentally appropriate for the age group I work with. This required research, a lot of unpaid hours of work, collaboration with teachers and administration, and pushing to make it a priority for the Head of Lower School Division. With my hard work, persistence, and patience, the school started using the progress report that I designed this year! I recognize that there is additional room for improvement, but this feels like a big accomplishment for me.
Thank you for reading!