Mr. Justin Tisdale

Mr. Justin Tisdale is a Brush High School alumnus and social studies teacher in Capturethe 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.”

Andrew Stewart

FullSizeRenderAndrew Stewart is a resident of South Euclid, living just west of the Lyndhurst border. He spent the entirety of his K-12 academic experience in the South Euclid-Lyndhurst City Schools, except for two months in the sixth grade when he was enrolled at Hawken School. Since graduating from Brush in 2011, Andrew enrolled and graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He possesses Bachelors of Arts degrees in philosophy and political science. He is currently applying to graduate schools and is a coming year core member for the AmeriCorps City Year program in Cleveland.

Andrew greatly enjoyed his time in the SEL schools. “Overall it was a wonderful learning experience, in terms of academics, activities, friendships, and positive relationships with the faculty,” he states. “I was really grateful to come back to the public schools after my time a Hawken. I really missed them.” At Brush, Andrew took a wide array of classes and attempted to maximize the number of courses he took. “I love learning, and the teachers were great.” He enjoyed the AP classes he took, stating that they allowed him to develop critical thinking and exposed him to new subjects. Andrew also learned a lot from his extracurricular activities. Outside of the classroom, he played the violin in orchestra and chamber ensemble. He was also a member of Key Club, National Honor Society, and Science Olympiad. As a member of the academic team, he had the opportunity to appear of Academic Challenge. “It’s one of my favorite high school memories and it was great honor to represent Brush,” Andrew affirms.

His favorite memory from high school was his graduation. “I was nervous about leaving high school and going on to college and the ‘real world,’ and the ceremony turned out to be very meaningful and fun.” He also says it was very affirming of all his classmates’ accomplishments. As a student speaker, he had the opportunity to reflect on his time in high school and realized that Brush would be with him for the rest of his life. If he could go back, Andrew wishes he would have talked to his teachers more after and outside of class. “They all had interesting life stories and imparted practical wisdom that really benefitted me.” He also wishes he had started volunteering earlier. “I started doing more when I became a member of National Honor Society, but I wish I would have done so sooner.”

Andrew graduated as Kenyon’s salutatorian this past May. This upcoming year, he will work with the AmeriCorps City Year program. “I’ll be tutoring students and working to improve graduation rates within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.” He is also applying to philosophy Ph.D. programs.

Andrew felt incredibly prepared to learn at a liberal arts college thanks to his instructors at Brush. “They really helped me develop critical thinking skills.” He also states that his English teachers emphasized learning for its own sake and that reading was a way to connect with places, times and individuals that were different but, in the end, not that different. “At Brush, I didn’t just become good at learning, but to learn with the right attitude.” The only shortcoming? “There weren’t a lot of practical know-how classes, but that’s probably just the state of education today.”

At Kenyon, Andrew played the violin in the community orchestra for 3 years, was a member of quiz bowl, philosophy club, and the buildings and grounds committee of student council. He also worked in the special collections and archives of the college’s library. In ten years, he sees himself playing a role in educating others similar to those people who educated him. “I want to find a way to work as a professor of philosophy, or perhaps even teach middle or high school.” There is also a chance he may want to work in education policy.

When asked about the community’s perception of the SEL public schools, Andrew believed that is was mostly positive during his time. He says that negative perceptions are perhaps filled by a lack of knowledge. “I think community members have a vague picture of operation and what the public schools need to succeed. If we increase community participation, the gaps in understanding will go away. Outreach will only help.”

Andrew’s final thoughts were advice for students. “High school and college are what you make them.” He says he learned so much in his time at Brush that wouldn’t have learned elsewhere. “There are hardworking individuals throughout the district that will support you when you invest in your education.”

Meghan Lembright

Meghan Lembright 1Meghan Lembright has resided in Lyndhurst since birth. She began her SEL experience in kindergarten at Ridgebury Elementary School and graduated as salutatorian of the Charles F. Brush Class of 2013. Meghan is currently a rising junior at the University of Michigan, where she is majoring in biopsychology, cognition, & neuroscience with a minor in biology.

Meghan thoroughly enjoyed her time at Brush High School. She made many great friendships and received an excellent education that has prepared her for her future at Michigan. During her time at Brush, Meghan was involved in Key Club, National Honors Society, marching band, and student council her sophomore year. Outside of school, she was a competitive dancer and instructor. Her favorite memory from high school is the homecoming assembly her senior year, where she and friends had the honor of being selected for the Top 25.

As far as academics, Meghan feels as though she received an exceptional education from the teachers in the SEL school district. All of the instructors she had cared deeply about the success of their students. Meghan’s favorite classes at Brush were AP calculus BC with Mr. Foerg and the French classes she took with Mr. Laplanche. “Both teachers went out of their way to challenge their students, while ensuring they provided the necessary help to aid them in being successful,” says Meghan.

While she loved her time at Brush High School, Meghan felt as though only a quarter of the students in each grade put forth their best effort academically. She believed every student had the opportunity to receive an outstanding education at Brush, but some students did not have the motivation to excel in the classroom. “If each student at Brush used the resources given to them by the teachers and the SEL school district, they could all have great success.”

Meghan Lembright 2Today, Meghan enjoys attending the University of Michigan in scenic Ann Arbor. She is a member of multiple campus organizations, including the pre-dental club, Pi Beta Phi sorority, and Impact dance. She also works with the Detroit Partnership, through which she makes weekly visits to Michigan’s most populous city to volunteer. Meghan plans to attend dental school upon graduating from U of M. She is challenged each and everyday, taking classes with top students from around the country. Although her classes are difficult, the education she received from the SEL school district has allowed her to be successful.

Jamal Perry

Jamal is second from the left in the first picture.

Jamal 2Jamal Perry is a lifelong resident of South Euclid and a Charles F. Brush High School alumnus. He started his SEL experience in kindergarten at Rowland and continued through high school. Since graduating in 2013, Jamal has enrolled at The Ohio State University in Columbus where he is studying mechanical engineering. He is spending the summer in Connecticut interning at Pratt & Whitney, an aerospace engineering firm.

At Brush, Jamal met many interesting people and friends that he still keeps in touch with. “I also got a great education,” he affirms.  Some of his favorite memories involve playing on the Arcs’ soccer team. “It was great playing those four years and all the friends I made in the process.” He also attributes playing soccer to his development of perseverance. “Soccer made me a ‘fighter’ which has given me the ability to chase goals and overcome adversity. Soccer has made me a better person.” Aside from soccer, Jamal also played baseball and participated in track & field.

When it comes to academics, Jamal’s memorable teachers include Mr. Foerg and Mr. Swinerton. “Mr. Foerg’s AP Calculus BC class really helped prepare me for college, both in content and how it was organized.” He explains that in AP Calculus, homework was optional and not counted for a grade. “There were no points awarded for doing your homework, which meant completing it was for your own personal benefit. Many of my engineering classes have a similar structure, which means you have to motivate yourself to do the work. Sometimes it’s difficult, but it only helps you. He also enjoyed AP stats with Mr. Swinerton. “I really liked stats because it felt very applicable to real life, and Swin was a great teacher.”

While he fondly remembers the group of AP and honors students who were driven to succeed, he discussed the large gap in academic motivation. “There were really smart kids who pushed themselves and wanted to succeed, but after the top 30 students or so it fell off. You could tell there were kids there that just didn’t want to be there. It all had to do with self-motivation.”

At Ohio State, Jamal can often be found at his on-campus job. “I work at the RPAC, which is the main recreation center on campus.” When he’s not at work, he also helps out with WeTruck, a team working on building a low-cost SUV for people in Guatemala. This past May, he went on a service trip through Ohio State to Detroit to work on an urban farm as a member of Humanitarian Engineering Scholars. “These farms are meant to provide produce to communities that don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables in their grocery stores or shopping marts.” He is also a member of Lambda Psi, a minority engineering honorary. After finishing his bachelor’s degree, Jamal plans to earn a master’s degree in bioengineering. “I want to understand how muscles, tissues, and tendons work.” He hopes improve the procedures and equipment that are used in knee surgeries.Jamal

Jamal says attending Brush was a great experience. “There’s a lot of diversity, which prepares you for real world situations and benefits you in college.” He believes that his time in the SEL schools has benefitted him in ways that extend beyond the classroom. “I’m more prepared for life because I went to Brush.

Erin Lee

Erin Lee 1 Erin Lee, a former South Euclid resident, joined the SEL family in the 7th grade. Since graduating from Brush High School in 2013, she has moved to Columbus and enrolled in The Ohio State University where she is studying Public Health. During her senior year at Brush, she was voted “Most Involved” and her list of after-school activities prove that she was a fixture around the school. “I was in student council, National Honor Society, book club, art club, the MAC Scholars group for female students, and played volleyball.

When asked to describe her Brush experience, Erin says she felt prepared for her transition to Ohio State. “I felt prepared for OSU academically, as well as socially because of the diverse student body.” Her favorite memories include designing senior class t-shrits, prom, and playing on the volleyball team. What disappointed her about her years at Brush was the lack of school spirit, which she believes was caused partially because of the lack of school events. “I think if we had more pep rallies and dances and other events like that, we would have had stronger school spirit and a closer knit school community.” Still, she enjoyed her time at Brush. “I would change nothing about my time at Brush. Everyone has their journey and things happen for a reason.” She mentions Ms. Curry her favorite teacher: “Ms. Curry really allowed me to grow both in art and as a person, and taught me how to be more open-minded in life.”

In her time at Ohio State, Erin has become the vice president of the Society of Sisters, as well as as mentor in The Girls Circle Project and College Mentors for Kids. She says Brush made her more open-minded and taught her hoErin Lee 2w to interact with people of varying backgrounds on a different level. Her only complaint about her high school experience was the lack of career planning that was offered. “I switched my major five times in my first two years at Ohio State,” Erin explains. She wishes that students were given the opportunity to do more career exploration and understand the paths one could take. “Maybe then I wouldn’t have switched my major five times.” Erin has yet to figure out her long term plans, but she is confident that Brush and Ohio State will have prepared her for whatever is to come.