Spotlights

Favorite teachers, moments and highlights from Arborbrook’s community.

Community Spotlights

How long were you at Arborbrook and what do you do now?

“I went to Arborbrook from 4th grade (the first year the school opened) until I graduated in 2014.  Most of my educational career before college was spent at Arborbrook. After that I went to Anderson University and got my Bachelors of Science in Nursing and I graduated in May of 2018.  I work at Novant Presbyterian as a nurse now. I work in cardiothoracic surgery post-op open heart patients or vascular surgical patients. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a nurse.  At first I thought I wanted to be a teacher.  But, through the Arborbrook internship program, I looked at teaching and figured out that wasn’t for me.  Then I did a few days through the Arborbrook internship program at Matthews Novant Hospital and I liked it. In college I was much more experienced in hands-on activities (like anything in the lab) I already knew how to do.  I knew how to read material and not just memorize it for a test, but be able to explain it.  I think that helped me to roll with all the punches that college gives you.  Arborbrook taught me not to just memorize material, but how to interpret it.  I had a really great Chemistry teacher at Arborbrook and that helped me get through BioChem in college.”


Do you have advice for current Arborbrook High Schoolers?

“I think it’s really important to study something that you enjoy.  I’ve seen friends choose majors based on what they think will make them the most money, or make their parents happy or whatever.  College is hard enough that if you’re studying something that you don’t like, it’s going to be really difficult.  You will learn so much about yourself in college.  Be involved as much as possible wherever you are, in high school or college.  It teaches you how to juggle life and prepare you for adulthood.”

Congratulations to Madison Ulrich (8th grade) who qualified to compete at the Nastia Liukin Cup this weekend at the Presidential Classic invitational in Florida. The Nastia Liukin Cup is one of the most prestigious invitationals in the county in the Junior Olympic program. The 36 participants are selected through the Nastia Liukin Series, 18 of the country’s top gymnastics invitationals. The Junior (under age 16) and Senior (over age 16) with the top score at each of the invitationals qualify to compete at the Nastia Liukin Cup on March 1st in Greensboro, NC.   We are so proud of you Madison!

How long and why did you choose to send your children to Arborbrook?

This is our 3rd year.  I found Arborbrook through Google before we moved here when we lived in Atlanta.  My husband came and did a tour, as I was still in Atlanta with the kids.  He wasn’t sure what we should do.  We didn’t make a decision and dragged our feet.  We had heard that the public schools were really good in the area.  We had never tried it and decided to give it a try.  It was as much, if not more of the mistake than I thought it would be.  We brought Kate home at Christmas and homeschooled her. She was frustrated because she hadn’t learned anything new and her class had lost the original teacher.  The new teacher they got was so new to teaching that it became like behavior boot camp. Kate would be told daily, you’ve answered enough questions, you need to go do something else. It was behavior boot camp because they would be in the middle of a lesson and someone was misbehaving and she has to shut down the whole lesson and address the behavior.  And, it takes so long that they lost the whole lesson time.  She was incredibly frustrated.  She’s one that loves learning and is naturally interested and wants to learn.  I wasn’t willing to leave her in that classroom any longer.  We just pulled her home.  We decided to look at Kindergarten at Arborbrook for Sam as we wanted him to have that classroom experience for Kindergarten.  This time I got to come and put my eyes on Arborbrook and that was all it took.  Walking through the halls, listening to the classes, that was all it took.  We had already read the Charlotte Mason book.  I grew up going to a Mae Carden school, around the same era as Charlotte Mason.  Many of the same principles.  This campus reminded me a lot of the school that I went to.  It wasn’t pretty and the latest and greatest.  But, the classrooms were wonderful.  The atmosphere in the classrooms, the culture that was created there encouraged learning.  Once one was coming, everybody came.  They loved it.  That year in public school was frustrating and disappointing for sure.  But, it gave us such a perspective and such a thankfulness for Arborbrook.  The kids get in the car from Arborbrook still excited about the day they just had.

What are the things you value the most at Arborbrook?

I think it’s definitely the culture of learning.  It’s the atmosphere the teachers create in the classrooms.  The Alpha and Omega times that they start and end their days and are taught the whole time.

Why did you choose to send your children to Arborbrook?

We wanted our children to have an American school experience.  Way back we thought we might even entertain public school.  Then we thought, while watching our kids, they go to a public school in Spain, there really aren’t any other options.  We thought it might be good for them to have a Christian school experience.  I was really attracted to Arborbrook because it’s only 4 days.  And then as I took a closer look I was really drawn to what seemed to be a really nurturing environment and caring holistically for the child.  I love the curriculum you use and the academics and integration of things.  I didn’t know all that at the time.  April Petrie is a friend from way back. I would not have known about Arborbrook if I hadn’t watched over the years on Facebook.  She would post pictures for years of her kids here, so it was on my radar.  The reasonable cost was part of our decision as well.  Arborbrook seemed like the right fit for us.

As far as the transition, my kids have done surprisingly well almost without a bump.  The environment is just so sweet.   Even the first week, I was getting the sense from the kids that we are really gonna mourn this.  But recently my processing has been like, I hope they do mourn this and remember the contrast of being in a Christian school.  I think I would be sad if they didn’t see any difference.  It’s a testimony to the reality of God in people’s lives if they can see that they do feel loved and nurtured and enjoy the educational side of it even more. 

We have been in the same city in Spain for 18 years.  When we return, we will be moving to Barcelona.  There is a small fledgling Christian school (one of only about 3 in the whole country) we are looking at it kind of like Arborbrook but in it’s really early years.  We think our kids will go there.  Now I see this as maybe God is giving us this experience not just for our kids. But, maybe we can help be a blessing to this new school through what we have learned here.

How long have you been a teacher and what drew you to teach here?

This is my 3rd year at Arborbrook.  I have been a teacher for 8 years.  The school was recommended to me by a friend in my church because I couldn’t find a home that felt good to me.  I had a hard time because being a science teacher, like marrying educational theories you know academically and what you know spiritually, is very challenging.  I don’t know how to teach biology in a way that I have to turn off my Christianity.  And I really struggled.  I had a lot of kids who were in my class in public school who were Christians and challenged the evolutionary theory when I was teaching that and I wanted to be like, you’re right, you’re absolutely right.  And I couldn’t, I had to filter it through a secular lens.  And, that was a struggle for me.  I think Christian scientists are a rare breed.  This is finally a home where I can be who God created me to be as a teacher.  How do you teach science and not be in awe of creation?

We were talking about (in class) the fact that you cannot at any certain period of time know for certainty where an electron is in orbit.  That is a principle that is stated by scientists.  Isn’t it refreshing that there are still things that we don’t know in science?  One of my students said either this is completely random or completely perfect.  You cannot deny the perfection of creation when you look at something that is so miniscule and perfect.  Amazing.  I am in awe every single day in the science text books!  And in microscopes and dissection.

 

What is one thing people would not know about you?

I was a musical theatre major to begin with.  I found a school that was able to couple my two loves at the time which was science and musical theatre.  I realized I really don’t need a degree to perform.  I can always sing and do whatever.  But, if I need to find a career in the sciences, that is what I needed to focus on.

What convinced you to teach at Arborbrook Christian Academy?

I really liked the relational aspect of the parents, small classrooms, the feeling of family and I LOVE to be outside!

 

What’s your favorite time in the day with your kids?

I like our whole day, but I love calendar time and story time.  I like the routine of calendar time and the different helpers have the opportunity to be the star of the day.  I love story time because I love to read and share books with them.  I love to see them love learning.

 

Tell me something that people would not know about you:

I love to travel but I think a lot of people know that about me.  I used to be extremely shy growing up.  My whole life I wanted to be a teacher and when I became one and realized that I had to be a leader, I gained confidence.  I’m very comfortable talking with children and sharing learning with them.

 

If you couldn’t be a teacher, what would you do?

I would own a bakery and be a baker!  I love to cook and bake.  With our curriculum in the afternoon here, we get to eat a lot.  We cook a lot and taste the foods from the various countries we are studying.

Who is your favorite all-time teacher?

I would have to say Miss Kimball because even though she teaches math, which is not a subject that I love (I used to hate math and felt so dumb) she has helped me appreciate it more and genuinely learn well in her class.  She will go out of her way to make sure that I understand the material.  More so than other teachers.  And, she is also a friend and we talk outside of class.  I feel like we have such a special connection.  She’s a teacher that I will definitely call when I’m in college.

 

What advice would you give to the students coming up behind you in school?

I would say make the most of your high school years because I didn’t really start taking high school seriously until my junior year.  I always tried hard before, but I didn’t take my impact seriously until some teachers started telling me that I was a leader and people looked up to me.  I was like REALLY?  I didn’t know that.  Make the most of your time because you don’t know the impact you have on others.  You don’t know who is watching and you don’t know who is listening.  Also, high school goes by so quickly.  I feel like I’m still a freshman.  I can remember being in 8th grade and eating on this lunch porch.  It’ll be over before you know it.  So, make memories.  Don’t always stress out about your grades.  It goes by too fast so don’t wish it away.

 

Who is your favorite all-time teacher?

Miss Kimball.  I have a lot of favorite teachers.  Teachers are a huge part of why I love Arborbrook.  But, Miss Kimball has helped me since 8th grade.  She tutored me and helped me jump up a grade in math.  We have a really good relationship because of all that time we spent together.  She’s just the coolest.  She always brings us hot chocolate or like candy.  She’s always ready to be real and honest and have conversations with us students.

 

What is your most amazing moment(s)?

 

All the traveling I’ve been able to do.  My family is trying to hit all 50 states before I graduate high school. I’ve been to 49 states and I’ve been on mission trips to Mexico and Peru.  Just being able to see different cultures and interact with different people and spend time seeing different parts of the world has been awesome.  Rhode Island is the last state to cover. We are actually gonna go there next Thursday.  We are gonna get it done!  My favorite state would probably be Colorado.  It’s insanely beautiful and we were able to go to Rocky Mountain National Park and do hiking and look at the lakes and the mountains.

 

Who is your favorite all-time teacher?

9th Grade English Mrs. Sword. She was a really cool teacher and just fun and easy to learn from. And she made everything fun.

 

What is your most amazing moment so far in life?

I’m gonna take it back to basketball. Last year we won the semi-finals to take us to the championship game. We ended up losing the championship game. That semi-finals game, the atmosphere here was amazing. Everybody came to the game and it was loud. It was the funnest game I’ve ever played in.

 

What is your advice for the students coming up behind you in school?

 

Keep up with your school work and make all the memories you can and make them count. Make a bunch of friends. They are gonna help you get through everything. Especially when you get into the high school level, school gets pretty stressful. Friends can get you through the stress. We have really good people at this school. I will miss the people. Obviously, I will be leaving a lot of them when I go to college. The community here is pretty good too. The Christian atmosphere…you don’t have to worry about anything here. It’s a safe place.

 

Who is your favorite all-time teacher?

That is so hard, I love all my teachers!  I have 2 top ones. My first one is Miss Kimball.  I just love her.  She is amazing! She helps me understand math and she teaches it so wonderfully that you understand it and she cares about you learning it and understanding it.  Ahhhh, she’s just amazing.  She will even offer you hot chocolate if she has some.  I’ve always loved math and she has made me have an even deeper love for it.  And my second one, who is a tie, is Mrs. Mangas who is the science teacher.  My class, to be honest, is more English-minded so they don’t really like math or science.  So before she came, they really didn’t like science.  She came in and it has become the student’s favorite subject.  I’ve never seen the students fall in love with a subject just because of the way she taught it, they understood.  It wasn’t just like I’m taking this class and I’m gonna hear a lecture that will blow right through our heads and not remember it.  They remember what they learn and they love the teacher.  She is amazing and she helps me.  She has a lot of the same passions as I do. I really love it!

 

What is your advice for the students coming up behind you in school?

It is good to spend time with friends and build relationships and not make school your idol.  But, grades are also important and you need to have good time management.  Your grades matter for going to college and on your transcript.  But, don’t stress too much over it where you have no time with friends or it’s affecting your health.  Balance is a huge thing and prayer and trusting in God.  Trusting God is a huge thing.  Once you trust Him, everything will be balanced for you.

 

Favorite All-Time Teacher:

Mrs. Gillenwater – 7th Grade English

 

What are the advantages of staying at Arborbrook long-term?

You get to know your teachers and how they teach. And, you get to learn.  I really loved that. Having the same friend group I think is great. Just being able to walk with them through different experiences In their life and just building the relationships through the ups and through the downs. Through missions trips, end of 3rd grade, end of 6th grade, end of 8th grade with your class, those are really awesome. I have awesome memories from those.

 

What will you miss the most after graduation?

 

Definitely, like friends.  People are what is gonna be so hard.  I won’t be able to run to Miss Kimble in the morning and ask her math questions. I’ll be able to FaceTime and text people, but I won’t get to see my friends on a  regular basis. I’m not gonna get to see them every day. It’s gonna be really hard!  But, it’s gonna be good.