top of page
image000000_edited.jpg

Education and Certifications

Education

  • Master of Arts (Teaching English) 

Indiana University of Pennsylvania ​

  • Bachelor of Arts (English) 

Pennsylvania State University

Professional Certifications

  • Pennsylvania English 7-12​

  • Florida English 6-12

Clearances

  • Childline Background Check (2023)

  • PA State Police Criminal Background ( 2023)

  • FBI Background Check (2023)

Exactly where upon my journey have our paths crossed? 

If travelers we were, and simultaneously we came upon two paths diverging in, say, a wood quite innocently obscuring the nature and promise of either, who exactly have you encountered, how did I get get here...and how likely am I to share my snacks?  ​ To be exceedingly brief, I majored in English because when I pursued higher education at Penn State I sought enlightenment. Studies in literature and creative writing seemed to yield or at least grapple with unique glimpses of universal and introspective truths--the stuff of life, as I sensed it, with which most other disciplines seemed less concerned, so I studied what seemed to mean the most.   ​ I did not major in education or even really intend to teach, and even upon graduation I did not think it wise to teach English just because I liked it. Hardly did that mean I could teach or otherwise patiently and capably mentor youth. I tested the waters by working that summer of 2002 as a live-in residential aide and creative writing instructor for Summer Study Programs. It is impossible to be any more neck-deep in high-school aged teens than one of Summer Study's counselors, but I found it fulfilling, invigorating, (definitively exhausting), and even transformational. That fall, I applied to IUP's graduate program in the Art of Teaching English and began to travel that road in January of 2003. Though I still might have told you I was a writer at heart, I could by then see myself as an educator by day.  ​ In February of 2005, I began teaching professionally north of Pittsburgh, PA at public Knoch High School. I was the fifth English teacher Knoch's juniors had known that year. If that was my first trial, the fire was hot, but against all odds I persisted, and I returned. By the time my partner accepted a faraway job offer five years later, I had become the kind of teacher the district's superintendent told me he wanted to hire after my second interview--the kind of teacher of whom students would eventually say, "That guy changed my life." ​ After lingering in Pennsylvania for a year to tend to the sale of our home, I finally followed my wife to Florida. She held an exciting position with the Tampa Metro YMCA, and that would afford me an opportunity to indulge in doctoral studies. All was well to begin. The University of Tampa hired me to teach First Year Writing, and by February of 2012, as I began my second semester as "Professor Brennan" and The University of South Florida accepted me as a doctoral student (PhD in English Curriculum and Instruction), the sun certainly seemed to be shining on the Brennans. In May, I even learned I was being awarded a substantial fellowship to support my first year of study.  That was wonderfully exciting news, and I wish I could remember it that way. Several weeks earlier, my father succumbed to multiple myeloma, and a few weeks after that, in April, my partner's employer, without explanation, decided it would be best for them to "part ways." That spring, the promise of new beginnings was tough to appreciate, and instead of preparing for advanced scholarship I began desperately seeking full-time employment. The head of my doctoral program passed along word of a local Catholic school in need of an English teacher, and thus began my return to secondary classrooms.  I taught English at Clearwater Central Catholic High School (CCC) for six years, and though at Knoch I taught almost entirely juniors, I began teaching sophomores at CCC, and then I taught seniors, and by the time personal circumstances drew my family back to Pennsylvania I had for at least two years taught students in every year of high school; I had coached track and officiated meets, and co-supervised a peer-tutoring program and an annual essay contest; I had overseen a universal graduation project, proctored SATs and state assessment tests, had taught and even written the curriculum for AP English courses, supervised IB extended essays, published a literary magazine, lent as much insight and guidance as I could to I know not how many young people, and, oh yes, ended up with two children of my own, a dog, two cats, and pretty impressive home repair schools for an English teacher. Still, I was not done, and you might like to know I am not entirely against sharing snacks. My family returned to PA not so much for work as for an unexpected and unsought opportunity to own a home. I took for granted that I could find work in central Pennsyvania. Until then, after all, I had been offered three of the four jobs for which I'd applied. How long could it take? Penn State Harrisburg's English department was the first to call, and they promptly offered me an adjunct position teaching English 15. Though it was not the full-time work I needed, I was thrilled to return to college classrooms. I enjoy teaching writing and mentoring students, and was proud to facilitate rhetorical analysis and purposeful writing in university classrooms. I taught three sections of English 15 that semester, but, because I had not yet earned a terminal degree, it would never become the work my family needed me to secure. In November, I happend to learn from our family physician of job opening at a local middle school. I reached out to the principal of St. Margaret Mary School, then accepted a position as a long-term language arts substitute. For the first time, I would middle school...and supervise recess, and dive deeply and explicitly into teaching English grammar. I adapted, like a professional, and by the end of that year was indeed offered the full-time role. Unfortunately, the highest salary they could offer was no salary for a primary breadwinner. That principal hoped I would return, but knew I could not. Luckily, she also knew of another principal in need of a language arts teacher. She graciously recommended me to St. Joan of Arc School (SJA) in Hershey, PA, and that brings us very near this moment we're sharing. In the fall of 2019 I assumed responsiblity for teaching even more language arts to even more middle-schoolers at SJA--this time grades 6, 7, and 8. Psychologically and emotionally, middle-schoolers reach the unthrottled extremes of all we associate with adolescence, but they are also as innocently naïve as they are knowledgeable, as insightful as they are naïve, and, whether they admit it or not, as much in need of healthy guidance as they are insightful! You may wonder if I have a favorite. No, I do not. Young people at every age have their tendences both loveable and maddening--inspiring and counfounding. I am glad to have known them all, and I am certain my perspective on each lends itself to work with the others. Finally, lest I forget, I was always ready to share that snack. I happily greet you and accept you just as you are, here along our path. The snack is yours either way, but I wonder, friend, if you'd trade for it your own worthwhile story.

bottom of page