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.

Mr. Andy Harkey

Mr. Andy Harkey wasn’t always a high school social studies teacher. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he spent almost 15 years working in the political realm of Washington, DC. “After graduating from [UNC Chapel Hill], I didn’t really have a set career plan. I knew I liked politics and history and government, so I took a paid internship with a congressmen and it turned into a full-time job.” He spent 9 ½ years working for congressmen in the House of Representatives, before becoming a lobbyist for the American Financial Services Association. “Working in Washington was a very exciting and interesting experience.”

After moving to the Cleveland area, he managed a small business for some time before deciding to make a career change. “In Washington, I met a Vietnam War veteran who was passionate about the importance of teaching history. He taught a night class at the University of Maryland and invited me to help out. After that experience, teaching became a possible career option for me in the back of my mind.” He enrolled in the Masters of Education program at John Carroll University and his intern program placed him at Brush. “That’s what led me here.”

How does he feel about his time teaching? “The staff here at Brush is really good. I think we have some of the best teachers in the state, and I’m confident about the quality of instruction we offer.” Mr. Harkey also believes that Brush and SEL still offers a tremendous variety of opportunities to any type of student. “Even through the rough economic times and waning community support, we’ve still managed to offer excellent educational opportunities to our students.”

Mr. Harkey hopes that our political environment will swing back in favor of public schools. “It’s an important foundation of this country.” His time at Brush has introduced him to great kids who have gone onto do great things. He’s thankful for the relationships he’s had with former students, who still take the effort to let him know what they’re up to. “I’ve had some really great students.”

Ms. Sarah Curry

Sarah Curry 1

Ms. Sarah Curry is a 15-year art instructor at Charles F. Brush High School, teaching the courses of painting, advanced painting, and AP Drawing. A native of Shaker Heights, Ms. Curry studied at Kansas City Art Institute before returning to the Cleveland area. She and her friends have recently started Artful, an organization dedicated to sharing studio space on the east side.

Unlike many teachers, Ms. Curry didn’t have a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. “I wanted to do something in art, but did not intend on ever teaching.” For a long time she, didn’t particularly like kids. “I hated kids and I hated high school, which is ironic seeing as I’m a high school art teacher now.” What changed her mind? “I wanted to be the teacher I never had: in terms of both learning something and just having someone to talk to.” She states the most rewarding part of her job is the relationships formed with her students. “I still hear back from students I had my first year of teaching, which is really awesome and I think it’s a testament to the schools and the teachers.”

What is so appealing about the “Brush experience?” “The respect that the students have for each other’s differences,” insists Ms. Curry. “The school has a wide array of cultural, economic, and social diversity, which I think is great for the kids.” She was filled with words of praise for her students. “These kids are awesome. They’re talented and creative and really want to do something, if given the opportunity.” Her advice for students? Be smart without your smart phone.Sarah Curry 2

Ms. Curry is incredibly thankful for the great support of the arts throughout the school and the community. “It’s a great outreach, and the more we can do the stronger the roots will be between the community and the schools. We need to start seeing youth as a positive force as opposed to a negative component.”

Mr. Thomas Bennett

Mr. Thomas Bennett, an English teacher at Charles F. Brush High School, has been teaching in the South Euclid-Lyndhurst City School District for 20 years. A native of Rocky River, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated from Duke University with degrees in English and Philosophy. He returned to northeast Ohio to work in his family’s plastics business, serving as a salesmen for 15 years. He is an avid sailor as well a convert to Judaism. Once presented with the opportunity, he fulfilled his longtime goal of becoming a high school English teacher.

When asked on his thoughts regarding the “Brush experience,” he noted the strength and rigor of the upper level honors and AP programs. “Those courses have been solid for years,” explained Mr. Bennett, who teaches 11th grade honors English. “I’ve really enjoyed working with my students throughout my career.” His one complaint is the increasing lack of focus among students of this new generation, which he blames mainly on technology. “It’s become a huge distraction in schools.” A class with Mr. Bennett is not complete without an oratory on the negative consequences of cell phones. He looks back on his time at Brush with fondness, with a great appreciation for his colleagues. “I was in the middle of two generations of teachers, with those who retired in the 90s and those who filled their shoes.” The most difficult part of his job would probably be discipline. “[Discipline] is always the hard part about teaching high school wherever you go.” Still, he has greatly enjoyed his time teaching and the relationships he has built with his students.

Mr. Bennett ended his interview with insightful observations and words of wisdom regarding our changing culture. “Society’s values are shifting. We’ve sadly become more materialistic, chasing after affluence.” He notes that student motivation is down due to the rise of electronics. “It’s unfortunate,” he noted. While he states that his time in the classroom  has been rewarding, he wouldn’t recommend going into the teaching field in today’s age. “Teaching was once a very prestigious profession, and it seems that the respect for it has crumbled in recent years.” He hopes to see teaching return to a “noble profession” in our society.

Mr. Bennett has been a professorial fixture within the halls of Charles F. Brush, engaging his students in philosophical discussions regarding America’s greatest literature. His “Great Gatsby Dinner Party Skit” is a favorite project among the juniors in his honors class. He is just another example of the excellence that can be found in the faculty within the SEL schools.