The Slice of Life series is sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.
We have all had “that one teacher” who gets it; “that one teacher” who changes us; “that one teacher” who makes learning an amazing life-long journey. For me (and many others) that “one teacher” was Mr. Brosius, who passed away last week (click here to view his memorial). As I began to well-up upon hearing this news, many wonderful memories came rushing back to me. His impact on my life as a man & as an educator was viewed with a new clarity as I reflected on our relationship.
Mr. Brosius, who taught 5th grade at Drum Point Road Elementary School for 33 years, was a true life-long learner and an accomplished educator. He held a Master’s Degree from Monmouth University & was awarded the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation Medal in 1976. He was the author of Home is the Battlefield, a novel about a New Jersey youth during the American Revolution, that went into publication in 1987 – the very year I was in his class (what a celebration we had!).
To be clear, it wasn’t Mr. Bro’s (as we all tended to call him) many accomplishments that resulted in this outpouring of emotion. In fact, I was unaware of them prior to reading his memorial. Instead, it was how he made me feel as a learner and as a young man that left such a lasting impression. For me personally, this extended beyond 5th grade & beyond the confines of the classroom. This is the mark of a master teacher & is something I carry with me to this day as an educator!
Mr. Brosius’ name was amongst the first that came up during our 20th HS Reunion this fall and once news of his passing began to spread, social media quickly exploded with comments, photos & expressions of love…here is but a sample of what some of my peers had to say. Certainly, they (along with many others) felt the same way I did & it was wonderful to revisit 5th grade with all of them!
Mr. Brosius was many things to his students & we all have lasting memories of our time with him. Therefore, I have decided to revisit & memorialize some of the moments that have remained with me even after all these years.
Mr. Brosius, The Teacher – Hands-on experiences; student choice; establishing an environment of respect & rapport. As educators in the new millennium, we know these are components of effective teaching, and this is how Mr. Brosius ran his classroom long before they became “buzz words.” I fondly remember writing self-selected pieces such as “Army Ants”, “The Magic Spike” (based on Thor – yes, I was a comic book geek then too) & “The Life of Benedict Arnold.” His love of the American Revolution was simply contagious! He ensured that everyone left his class an expert on this era of history, and our learning culminated with a trip to Philadelphia to see this history in person! Mr. Brosius’ classroom was truly a “cognitively busy environment” (to quote Charlotte Danielson).
Mr. Brosius, The Author – Although, Home is the Battlefield wasn’t published until the early spring of 1987, every one of his students knew they were in for a fantastic experience when the manuscript of his novel (that consisted of a large binder) came out of his desk for an afternoon read aloud. I remember us begging him to publish it after each session, and our autographed copies are now coming out of basements or attics. His writing prowess also extended into our classroom activities as we performed plays written by Mr. Brosius. This included the play Sherlock Holmes & the Case of the Meanest Man in the World (where I played Grandma Crumbly) and his annual Halloween puppet show (King Tut’s Tomb) complete with fishing string & strobe lights!
Mr. Brosius, Outside of the Classroom – Nothing made me happier than seeing Mr. Brosius every summer at the annual Battle of Monmouth Reenactment (pictured above). He always made sure to wear the Phillies hat I bought him for Christmas. That excitement for history also brought the Taibi family to Colonial Williamsburg (where I bought my first tricorne hat, also pictured above). I remember being a minuteman for Halloween complete with rifle and powder-horn the following year. Our relationship extended well into middle school & when my father passed away suddenly, he was amongst the first to console me. I will never forget his sympathetic eyes & soft words of encouragement. Clearly, Mr. Brosius’ love for his students did not end when the bell rang.
To quote Henry B. Adams: A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. Mr. Brosius, your influence will continue to impact every student I work with. Thank for all you have done for me & your many students throughout the years.