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. Wildrick shares his perspective with us.
Mr. Wildrick | Science Teacher, Kindergarten - 4th Grade
What do you teach, and how long have you been teaching?
I teach elementary science, kindergarten through fourth grade, and this is my nineteenth-year teaching at Brookwood. I’ve been teaching, in total after this year, twenty-two years. The first three years I taught in Seattle. That’s where I started my teaching career.
What’s the most rewarding part of teaching at Brookwood?
That’s the hardest question! One of the great things about teaching here is that since I get to teach kindergarten through fourth grade, I get to see the kids each year as they mature and change over four years. At the end of the year I have a good picture of who that kid is and then the next year I get another picture of who that kid is, and another picture each year after. It’s an interesting perspective - you get to see the bigger picture of a child. In the back of my mind, when I see parents wrestling with issues that their kids have, I always want to say ‘Look it’s going to work out, I promise you. It has never not worked out.’ I just want to tell parents that it’s going to be okay.
Also, the way Brookwood values teachers by offering them professional development opportunities is really unparalleled. I think it speaks to what education is these days – an evolving practice. I think we’re lucky that we’re encouraged to evolve, to change as our knowledge of kids change. You get do that here at Brookwood as a teacher. It’s part of a larger philosophy and mission to evolve and change to fit the needs of the students and the world.
What’s a moment you’ll never forget from your teaching career?
I have those moments every day, or every week. But I think it’s when it all clicks for a child, when you see or hear a student understand or finish something with pride. For instance, the structures out there [pointing to the tables], the 4th graders been working on them for a long time and on the last day to build, the kids came in and just began working without any prompting. The room was quiet, the students determined and focused, and that’s one of those moments when you see their pride and how invested they are in a project or an assignment.
There are other moments when kids acknowledge that they trust you – and that is a huge moment. That is the most powerful moment as a teacher. You are always working to build that trust, but you are never quite sure if it’s established. When you see it and it’s reflected back to you, you think ‘hmmm…I’ve done that part of my job, I got that right.’
Do you have a favorite topic or unit that you like to teach and why?
I’m a generalist so I teach everything and that suits my personality. But being an outdoorsman, environmental science, or life science, is my passion. Life sciences got me interested in science initially so I think that passion carries over into my teaching.
From your experience, what makes Brookwood unique?
Every child here is truly recognized and valued for who they are here. When a kid is running down the hallway, his or her gym teacher will say hi and tell him or her to have a great time over the weekend. The kitchen staff know the students, and their parents, by name! Students are known, not just because or by their academic profiles, but because of who they really are, what makes them tick. I think it’s pretty obvious that the kids are genuinely happy to be here. It’s a great place to be a kid growing up and learning.
What did your five-year-old self want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a doctor. I don’t know what kind of doctor, but my dad was a doctor and I wanted to be that. I liked the diagnosis and the problem-solving aspects. The mystery of the human body was so interesting to me. I realized though, at an older age, that it was not for me. I’m lucky to have recognized that and channeled that same curiosity into becoming a science teacher.