Farewell to Brookshire Elementary

Goodbye, Brookshire

  • By
  • | 10:34 a.m. June 13, 2012
Photo by: Annie Vanacore Photography - Brookshire Elementary's students and staff paid final tribute before its demolition.
Photo by: Annie Vanacore Photography - Brookshire Elementary's students and staff paid final tribute before its demolition.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
  • Neighborhood
  • Share

Brookshire Elementary is very special to us.

My husband, Jim Connell, attended the first year it opened in 1960.

He was in the very first First Grade class to occupy the new facility.

His family lived 3 doors down, on Brookshire Avenue, and actually watched the “new school” being constructed in 1959.

Jim’s family are multi-generational residents of Winter Park, so having our boys attending Brookshire has been a strong addition to our family legacy.

As a Mom, I contributed many volunteer hours to help with projects for the classes.

We loved being able to take Mark’s class to swim at the YMCA Cady Way Pool, across the street.

During warmer days, this served as their PE day.

Brookshire’s staff and families have a very close-knit relationship.

The staff and Principal are truly exceptional.

Beth Taylor is truly one of the most positive people we have ever met.

We wrote a letter, on her behalf, to OCPS (Orange County Public Schools).

In it, we stated our desire to see her acknowledged as “Teacher of the Year” for the entire state of Florida.

PreK is one of the most important times of a child’s developing mind, and is often overlooked when considering teachers for this honor.

Dr. Marc Rummler is equally enthusiastic and positive. We felt so fortunate when he became our Principal. We have never seen a more “hands on” Principal than Dr. Rummler. He is often seen in the Pre K class, helping the other students, visiting the classes, at Boosterthon events cheering his students on and he genuinely exudes confidence, leadership, integrity and class.

We will miss the school but know they will have an incredible new facility when the new one is finished next year.

—Laurie Connell

A walk down the hallways of Brookshire Elementary School in its last few days conjures feelings of sadness and excitement, saying goodbye and welcoming new beginnings — and the not-so-faint smell of paint.

Every hallway at the school has become an art class in itself — students write their memories, spotlight their friendships and decorate it with flowers, little elephants and smiling suns. The children spent their last couple days of this school year saying farewell to their old school by painting on all the walls and throwing a giant party where they all danced, laughed and even made a photo-op visible from the sky by using every single student in the school to spell out “BE” on June 5.

“I’ve seen tears today … we needed this day to say goodbye,” Principal Marc Rummler said.

“It’s closure,” parent Elizabeth Scivally said.

Brookshire Elementary in Winter Park has been around since 1960, and while the school has tried to keep up with more students and new technologies, this year was its time for a face-lift. Parents have been waiting years for the school to get renovated, Rummler said.

“Now’s our time to be rebuilt,” he said.

Over the next year, Brookshire will be demolished and reconstructed. In the meantime, the students will be attending class at a “swing school” newly named Brookshire West, located at 1500 Falcon Drive in Winter Park. The plan is for the Brookshire home campus to reopen summer 2013 and classes to resume there in the fall.

The rebuild is necessary, Rummler said. The school’s age has contributed to problems, including recurring air quality concerns for students and teachers. They’re also lacking in technology. Outside hallways have been converted to inside ones, and white boards have been screwed over blackboards, but it isn’t enough. The new school will have more computers, interactive white boards, a built-in audio system to broadcast teachers’ voices loud and clear and a document camera projection system to use. Teachers love all the new technology, but are even happier that their new school will be free of health worries.

“Just having a clean, healthy teaching environment,” teacher Paula Harmonay said.

The new school will also provide a safer environment for students. While the current school is basically an open campus, the new building will have one way to get into the school, a locked door to the main office. All the students will be under one roof, and all the doors can only be unlocked using a card with a special chip in it.

One drawback while the students attend the “swing” school during the year of construction is that most of the students will be riding a bus to school because of its distance, whereas before most lived close enough to walk or ride their bikes. Staff have made sure that the transition will be easy for students and parents, though, by posting photos of their temporary home, hosting events to tour the school and including parents on all construction updates.

Orange County School Board member Joie Cadle said it’s the parents who might have trouble adjusting, not their children.

“Kids don’t care as long as their teachers are there,” Cadle said. “Our children are pretty resilient.”

And that’s the key — what makes the school isn’t the building.

“It’s our teachers, staff and community that make our school what it is,” teacher Krista Cook said. “It’s the people.”

That’s clear to the students, too. One special little painting by a student spells out Brookshire and describes the school using each letter. Brookshire is “in my heart,” “remembering” and “home” to that student. It’s been a special part of Winter Park for more than 50 years and generations of families have attended, but it’s time for a new place to make new memories.

“Change is hard — it’s hard on anybody,” incoming PTA president Amanda Schaefer said. “This building has been our home.”

The students of Brookshire Elementary will be attending class at newly named Brookshire West, located at 1500 Falcon Drive in Winter Park, while their old school is demolished and rebuilt over the next year. The plan is for the old Brookshire campus to reopen summer 2013 and classes to resume there in the fall. Construction updates and events to check out the new school will be up on its OCPS site: https://www.ocps.net/lc/east/ebr/Pages/Default.aspx, and the PTA site: brookshireelementarypta.club.officelive.com