I grew up on a small family farm in Upstate New York. We raised goats, chickens, pigs, and a pony. In the winter, my father tapped the maples to make syrup, in the early summer, we ran a raspberry U-pick it, and in the fall, we pressed apples to make cider. The main operation on the property however, was a private nursery school and kindergarten. My first jobs were tending to the animals, which also included guinea pigs and rabbits. I also learned to sweep up in the classrooms, cut grass, rake leaves, and repair equipment. As I got older, I worked with children in the after school and summer programs. These experiences were foundational to my conception of teaching and learning and provided crucial life skills.
When I first began my role as Head in the fall of 2019, it was to my delight that the south property formally became part of our campus, through a generous donation. I envisioned ways that Brehm Preparatory School could build on the vocational programming in landscaping and horticulture already enjoyed by many of the students and young adults at OPTIONS.
Having our students at Brehm experience programming at our farm on campus is intended to cultivate the kinds of skills that promote readiness for career success. While some may be inspired to find a passion for agriculture or working with animals, the goal for all students is to develop self-regulation, executive function, and social-emotional skills. It is my hope that each student can connect with an animal, be it our campus dog, Gigi, one of the animals on the farm, or a guinea pig or snake in our nature classroom.
As it is increasingly necessary for all of us to remain aware of our environmental impacts, the jobs of the future will need to promote sustainable systems. As our farm program grows, we are empowering our students to help shape the program and our shared future, by participating in projects that raise awareness around the foods we eat, the waste we generate, and stewardship of our natural resources. I invite you to reach out to Anné Westberry, our Foundation Director, or me directly if you would like to discuss ways to join our supporters who also share a passion for vocational and career based learning.