FACULTY IN FOCUS offers a deeper look into what motivates our teachers, what they bring to the classroom, and why they love teaching Brookwood kids. This week, Mr. Kuhlmann shares his perspective with us.
Mr. Kuhlmann | Grade 7 English Teacher and Advisor, Grades 5-8 Language Arts Coordinator
What do you teach, and how long have you been teaching?
I'm the 7th grade English teacher-- aka talent scout for the next Jane Austen-- and I've discovered many star prospects here at Brookwood over the last ten years. All told, this is my fifteenth year as an educator.
What’s the most rewarding part of teaching at Brookwood?
Every day I get to watch highly motivated and creative young people flourish in the care of the most devoted educators imaginable. And every day I learn fifty new things-- about teaching, about adolescent psychology, about the peculiar affinity today's 7th graders feel toward cultural artifacts of the 1980s. What's more rewarding than that?
Do you have a favorite topic or unit that you like to teach and why?
I like teaching big concepts in the world of words, such as symbolism. Age 12 is when the capacity for high-grade abstract reasoning kicks in for many kids. It's exciting to take part in their initiation to the deeper layers of meaning in literature.
From your experience, what makes Brookwood unique?
As a veteran teacher and the veteran husband of another educator, I've known lots of schools. Brookwood is unique in the emphasis it places on the relationship between student and teacher. Everyone here understands that the best learning gets done atop a foundation of genuine care and respect. Also: I have to give a shout-out to the music department; they're unbelievable. My memory is a little foggy, but I believe that, at my very first School Meeting, a young child was belting out Puccini while backed by an ensemble of ukuleles. How do Mrs. Gantt and the gang do it?
What did your five-year-old self want to be when you grew up?
I was too busy getting filthy out in the woods of central Virginia to think about growing up. But when I was five, I did create a "nature center" in the screened porch of my house. I assembled a bunch of exhibits for neighborhood kids to visit-- clumps of mushrooms and stunned amphibians, all accompanied by catastrophically misspelled signage. So I guess that I was discovering my destiny as an educator, even at that age.