Mr. Justin Tisdale is a Brush High School alumnus and social studies teacher in the South Euclid-Lyndhurst City Schools. After moving to the district in the fourth grade, he finished his education at SEL and graduated from Brush in 2000. He then enrolled at Notre Dame College and stayed in the community upon earning his degree. He currently resides in South Euclid with his wife and daughter.
When asked about his experience at Brush, the first word that came to mind was “fun.” He said the teachers taught what was necessary, he enjoyed the company of his classmates, and it was, overall, a good experience. He also noted the sense of community within the school building. “No matter how bad the football team was, and they were pretty bad, you could always expect the stands to be packed Friday night.” His favorite memories include Homecoming Top 25, assemblies, and simply being in high school. Mr. Tisdale says the school has changed most in how education is approached. “There’s less freedom for teachers,” he says. He also believes that there is a lack of respect for authority, which could be a shift in overall generational perspectives. “I think most notably and specific to Brush is that the school spirit is gone.” In what ways hasn’t the school changed? “There is still no sense of cliques at the high school.”
The district’s reputation within the community is troubling, Mr. Tisdale shared. “The perception isn’t great, and a lack of communication with the community has caused this perception to worsen.” He says the shifting demographics have also affected the community’s view on the public schools. “Most of the students are good kids, but it’s the small group of troublemakers that brands the whole school that way.”
Mr. Tisdale’s initial goal was to help kids reach their potential, which served as the catalyst to becoming a teacher. He initially taught at Riverside High School in Painesville, but came back to Brush because he saw the opportunity for him to serve an important role. “I felt that at Brush I had the ability to serve as a positive Black male role model to the students. I wanted to prove that it was possible to not fall into the negative stereotypes and give them guidance in achievement.” He has served as a basketball in previous years, and could often be found working sporting events. “It was great seeing the students play and interacting with each other outside of school.
In his time as both a student and educator, Mr. Tisdale believes the Brush experience has changed, depending on perspective. “Testing has taken away drive for the whole school community,” alluding to the state-mandated tests instituted in the past 15 years. “There’s also been an influx of transient students, who often view Brush as a school rather than a home. It’s hard to build community if you’re not sure if some some students are going to be there from year to year.” Above all, he believes the Brush experience and high school in general should be enjoyable. “It should be fun for everyone. It shouldn’t be viewed as a job. School is best when we work for the kid’s success and enjoyment.”