Brandywine has an important story to tell us all
Published 7:35 am Saturday, April 22, 2006
I was enlightened Wednesday night about an important and very valuable asset in our community: Brandywine Community Schools.
Superintendent Gary Rider invited me and about 40 others to take part in a brain-storming session with a committee he has formed and charged with developing a marketing plan for the district.
Why does Brandywine need a marketing plan? Because it has an important story to tell that many of us need to hear it.
We were asked to think about some of the things that make Brandywine Community Schools unique and set it apart from other school districts. The list developed during this exercise was eye opening.
Before that discussion, what I knew about Brandywine is that its graduates and families are fiercely loyal to it, much more so than those of other school districts seem to be.
Brandywine families take significant pride in the fact that generation after generation has been educated there. Brandywine graduates identify with the school district as a community hub, which makes the district's recent name change so important.
I remember covering my first Brandywine High School graduation about 17 years ago and being stunned when part of the ceremony included showing a slide show of this class from the time they were in kindergarten all the way through their senior year. This show wasn't simply photos put together from the collections of the graduates' families. It was a pretty complete documentation of each of the important moments of their school career at Brandywine.
Most of these students had been together for all of their young lives. It really personalized the graduation ceremony and brought home the fact of how significant that day was in each of their lives.
I have several friends who have children who attend Brandywine schools and I've been very impressed by their involvement as parents in the schools district.
There are legions of adults - not just teachers or coaches or other Brandywine employees - but parents and former teachers and Brandywine community members who really know and care about Brandywine's 1,500 or so students.
More Brandywine parents routinely attend its Board of Education meetings than do parents at other school districts.
I know this first-hand from covering them as a reporter over years. Brandywine suffers no problem with apathy or lack of interest among its parents or community members.
Brandywine is arguably one of the safest school districts around. There are no gang problems, no racial tension. There's no need for police officers to roam the hallways. There aren't even locks on the lockers in the elementary school.
Yet, despite its small size, Brandywine excels in its offering of academic programs. Two Brandywine teachers teach college level courses at the school, for which students are eligible to receive college credit.
Brandywine is a leader locally in offering its students an opportunity to learn about other cultures and travel while doing so.
This year, three groups will study abroad as part of Brandywine classes.
While one of these groups made some negative headlines recently, the program has been an overwhelming success, offering many Brandywine students a broader understanding of the world around them.
Our group at the marketing meeting summed it up this way: Brandywine is a school community that is intimate in spirit and provides an education that is international in scope.
That's pretty special. The Brandywine story is something parents with school-age children will want to hear. Brandywine is a place all in Niles can take pride in.