paying it forward for fellow teachers

bree booth '05

bree booth '05when briane “bree” booth ’05 walks into her third-grade classroom every morning, she sees the day as a new day, full of possibility and the opportunity to set the tone for her classroom.

“my hope comes from the kids. they truly, truly have the desire to spread kindness, help others, protect the earth, and believe that all things are possible. it's my job as an educator to keep that magic and potential kindled for as long as possible in their school careers,” she says. her commitment to them extends beyond the classroom. booth has built a legacy of giving to william & mary 日本vs西班牙让球 , beginning in graduate school, as a way of supporting other educators who work daily to improve their craft.

“having been senior class president and working on our class gift, i knew the importance of giving,” the 35-year-old glen allen resident recalls. “i'd seen its tremendous impact around campus, and i’d spoken or written thank you notes to donors and created personal connections with alumni. for me, giving back — even while in grad school — was an easy decision because w&m had given so much to me.”

after graduation, booth and her husband, anthony opperman, lived in colorado and texas. she has been teaching for 13 years, in first and third grades in three different states.

“after i left virginia, i discovered just how much cachet a w&m degree held. applying for a teaching position as an out-of-state candidate in my field can be difficult, however, i know the college's reputation preceded me and many principals commented on the rigor and level of excellence our school requires,” she recalls. booth double majored in english and elementary education at william & mary.

“i learned from some of the most talented and respected professors, worked collaboratively with amazingly high-caliber educators who were truly passionate about their career choice, and had the opportunity to be involved in campus events and organizations that gave me ‘real world’ skills as well,” she says.

once she graduated, booth faced many real-world challenges as well. yet even while balancing the demands of building her career as an educator, she was committed to giving to the william & mary 日本vs西班牙让球 .

“as everyone knows, elementary school teachers aren't millionaires. going to grad school, buying a house, having children — all of those major life milestones and celebrations can be huge drains on your finances. for my shoestring budget, it was manageable to give $25 per month,” she says. “i know that my monthly gift still goes to two different funds, alternated monthly, that are continually benefiting students and campus. my little gift is joining the generosity of others and, together, all of our gifts can make a big impact.”

she incorporates giving back into her classroom curriculum as well.

“all kids love engaging, authentic learning experiences that don't come from a textbook. ever since i started teaching, the ‘soft skills’ of cooperation, listening, kindness, empathy, communication, etc., have been important to me. over the years, i've tried to make sure i use academic content to highlight those life skills. this year, my class has been working on a service project to benefit the henrico humane society. they've raised over $1,000 in three events!” she says. in order to complete their mission, her students incorporate research, writing, technology, and math. “it’s been a student-driven project from the get-go.”

booth credits denise johnson, professor and associate dean of teacher education and community engagement, as one of the most influential faculty members during her elementary education studies.

“her class on children's literature exposed us to tons of amazing stories to share with a variety of learners, taught us the importance of having diverse books for your students, and — my biggest take away — no student is ever too old for a read aloud,” says booth. “i love watching my kids while i'm reading a story. their eyes track me around the room, they lean forward, they make predictions about what happens next. that kind of engagement is what teachers live for!”

even though she has at times moved far from the campus, booth says william & mary feels like a second home to her.

“for me, being able to remain involved with campus organizations and alumni events has been like staying in touch with family,” says booth, who hopes to be able to extend that feeling of belonging through mentoring new teachers. the value of that connection is highlighted in one of her favorite memories: the candlelight ceremony. “standing with my class at night, on graduation weekend, and watching this wave of light drift slowly over the crowd as each candle is lit by a friend was one of the most beautiful things i've seen. that sense of camaraderie, accomplishment, and tradition was so powerful!”

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