Kevin Brandenburg (2002)
Walking through Pleasant Glade Elementary School, it is clear that there is history and community rooted in these halls. On top of that, history and community rooted in the North Thurston School District. Many teachers in the school district grew up here and even went to the same schools that they are teaching at now.
Kevin Brandenburg is a perfect example of the deep roots that this community and school district have. Kevin grew up in this area, attending Pleasant Glade Elementary School, Chinook Middle School, and then graduated from North Thurston High School in 2002. He received his AA at South Puget Sound Community College, and then went on to get his B.A in Education at Eastern Washington University. Everything came full circle when Kevin started working for the North Thurston School District a couple years ago at (you guessed it) Pleasant Glade Elementary School. When asked what he liked most about working in this area and for our school district, Kevin said "this community is phenomenal. I feel very lucky to be not only in a district that cares about education, but in a community that supports its district. This area really supports the whole student, and many businesses offer time and resources to support the schools”. Kevin always wanted to come back to this area and teach. When looking back on his school years, he said “ I was taught a lot of great life lessons, and given many opportunities from the teachers I had. I wanted to give it back to the students in this area. My goal was to pass on the legacy of life-long learning”.
Kevin has some great memories of his time in school, specifically a memory of his first high school track meet; “My favorite high school story to share is about one of my first track meets. I was running the 300 meter hurdles. I found out that I was the only one who was in that race for the meet. I was talking to my parents about how I could walk the race and win first place. Being as this was my first time running the event outside of practice, it took a lot of pressure off of me. Another parent sitting by mine overheard and challenged me. She said if I ran as hard as I could and pushed myself, she would give me twenty bucks. I took the challenge and ran rather well. I learned that day to always do my best in everything I did”.
Kevin's dedication to his school and his students is the reason that students in this school district are so successful. Currently, Kevin teaches 5th grade at Pleasant Glade and focuses on reading and social studies; "I have really enjoyed being able to increase my ability to teach students to read, and give them a passion for reading. The best part of my job are those moments when a student who has been struggling with a concept finally gets it". He also enjoys teaching 5th grade because of the tremendous growth and transformation that happens during that year; "Fifth graders grow a lot and watching that transformation is incredible, they are very eager to learn, and end up teaching me new ideas constantly". Kevin credits his elementary school teachers for giving him inspiration to become a teacher himself; "I felt very fortunate to have a wonderful set of teachers from kindergarten to my senior year. Mrs. Deck, my 3rd grade teacher gave me my first aspirations to be a teacher. She genuinely cared for her students and helped them want to succeed. Mrs. Havens the art teacher, and my 5th grade teacher taught me a love for the Arts. My 6th grade teacher taught me the importance of being on time and prepared. My 7th grade science teacher sparked my interest in biology. I could go on and on about my teachers who influenced me, because there were many more, but that list is very long. My mom was a huge influence as well. She ran an in home daycare. I gained valuable knowledge of how to work with children of any age. She also taught me patience and how to manage multiple tasks/children at a time."
When Kevin is not teaching, he likes to play volleyball, as well as coach 5th grade track. He also loves breakfast food, more specifically donuts, which “appear in the staff room a lot” (perks of being a teacher). He enjoys playing video games, reading, going for walks, or going on adventures with his wife and his dog. Kevin and his wife Kristine met when they both got hired the same year through the school district. They now both teach at Pleasant Glade Elementary. He also has 3 older siblings, one of which is Adam Brandenburg who coaches baseball and teaches health at North Thurston High School.
Kevin is a strong advocate for teaching and learning. His advice to students who are interested in the education field is to “be flexible”. He says one of the most valuable things he has learned about being in a classroom is that “the best laid plans can have many unforeseen obstacles. Be willing to try new ideas, and be ready to change lessons at a moment’s notice”. “For students in general, my advice would be that whatever you want to do or become, give it all that you got...The most rewarding careers are ones that you enjoy what you do. If you have passion, you will succeed”.
Thank you Kevin for being such an awesome Alumni and a wonderful teacher!
Written by Merrigan Risvold
North Thurston High School
Class of 2014
Community Relations Intern