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Baltimore Principal Knows How To Make A Positive Difference

Bernadette Ortiz-Brewster, Principal of College Park Academy in Prince George's County, has taken on a number of roles within the school system. She attributes all her professional expertise to her own diverse educational background, experiences and continued training in a number of fields. From working in Hawaii to serving in her current role as principal, Ortiz-Brewster knows what it takes to make a positive difference in education.

(Photo Courtesy of Bernadette Ortiz-Brewster)

Oritz-Brewster received her B.A. in psychology from Siena College and her M.A. in European languages and literature from the University of Hawaii. She is a Ph.D candidate from Walden University and is a Maryland certified administrator I and II.

What inspired you to enter your field and to do what you currently do?

"After earning my degree in psychology and working as a counselor for Hale Kipa Youth Shelter in Hawaii, I realized how much I enjoyed tutoring students. Therefore, I went back to school and earned an M.A., and began teaching at the University of Hawaii. When I heard that Punahou School was looking for a middle school Spanish teacher, I applied. My incredible career at Punahou inspired me to want to create great schools for more students on the island of Oahu. So, I was part of a founding group that helped to open two private schools on the island."

How does your educational background relate to your current role?

"I truly believe that the reason why I can handle so many different jobs within a school is because of my training in psychology, counseling, teaching, technology, and administration. When you are an administrator for a unique charter school, you have to be very open to working with stakeholders in order to make the school the best that it can be."

How has blended learning transformed education for students at your school?

"Our students have the advantage of taking a variety of electives that might not have been possible due to budget constraints. Since our students have virtual teachers, they can sign up for several different languages, music, art, keyboarding, and even SAT prep. It is truly an individualized schedule. When our students aren't taking virtual courses, they are in the classroom with their face-to-face core content teachers. Face-to-face teachers help them through the curriculum and bring instruction to life through hands-on projects and mini lessons. The students even have the added support of University of Maryland interns and Terrapin teachers. Having all of this extra support is what balances the online component and makes us unique."

What is some advice you can offer others interested in your field?      

"Since education is constantly changing, I would suggest that you remain a lifelong learner along with your students. Don't be afraid to try new things, fail, and try again. I have seen incredible things happen, just because there was a group of individuals that had their hearts in the right place and took a chance."

Laura Catherine Hermoza has a lifelong love for writing. In addition to serving as a contributor to various media publications, she is also a published novelist of several books and works as a proofreader/editor. LC resides in Baltimore County.

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