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Only a month into education to become a dental hygeinist, I knew I wasn't in the right place. I spent my breaks sketching and unleashing my creativity, and spent my work time hating what I was doing. Finally, one of the practicing dentists encouraged me to pursue art, noticing my raw talent just through those sketches. That decision to change careers would not only alter my professional life, but would also come to help me heal from a long-standing trauma that had held me back for years.
As a child, I was severely bow legged - to the point that my parents could practically put a beach ball between my legs. Growing up with that challenge was frustrating enough, and then about ten years ago I injured my spine, leaving me stuck through a gruelling recovery. During that time, I learned a lot about myself - I thought deeply about what I wanted and who I was. Eventually, I found a doctor who placed inserts in my ankles that helped address my residual issues. Finally, I felt I understood my journey, why I had gone through what I did. And that's when I painted "Misaligned," a three piece series of paintings that describes my health journey. It now has pride of place in my classroom, where I use it as a story to tell my students on overcoming life's most challenging obstacles.
Knowing that art had been so therapeutic for me, I came to love teaching and helping students on their own journeys. And while I began my career in a local traditional public school district, I felt I couldn't fully stretch my creative wings, eventually finding Tipton Academy when I was laid off as the district "didn't need certified teachers for the specials programs." But now that I've made a home at Tipton for the last four years, I'm simply blossoming and loving having such a family of support at the school.
Brenda has been an amazing fit at Tipton, not only because of her passion and talent with art - but also because she brings this element of life to her classes. She doesn't just teach curriculum, she teaches life lessons, using art as her medium of delivery to really engage students."
- Angela Gilbert, Superintendent for Tipton Academy
And while I feel that I've been able to thrive here within my classroom, I know that so much of that is cultivated by all the educators and leaders in our building, who go the extra mile for students and us teachers. Kyle Lackey, our Vice Principal, spends every day walking our school halls and checking in with students and teachers, addressing any need that pops up. His open door policy has been key to creating that family feeling - and it's seriously enhanced our ability to connect with parents.
Our approach to parent engagement here at Tipton is really unique, because of that openness. We want to intentionally create that seamless transition from home to school, and we want to be on the same team as parents. The open-door policy has been such a benefit, because we've seen the results with parents: they run teacher appreciation, school events and more - and it makes all the difference to the kids.
- Kyle Lackey, Vice Principal at Tipton Academy
This year, I was actually offered my old job back with the local district, but I won't be going anywhere. I love my classroom, I love the opportunities I get to mold my students from kindergarten through eighth grade, and I love the support I get from leaders in my building. Tipton is home, Tipton is family.