Becoming the physical education teacher is how Brandi Anderson originally ended up at Independence Elementary, but she has since discovered her passion for teaching art — her current role. Anderson is well-loved by her students and respected by colleagues for her enthusiasm for teaching and encouraging students to allow their creativity to shine — no matter their artistic level.
What brought you to your school?
I previously taught for five years at Dream Lake Elementary as a P.E. (paraprofessional). Toward the end of spring in 2016, I was seeking employment as a P.E. teacher in Orange County Public Schools and graciously received an interview from (Dr. Angela Murphy-Osborne) here at Independence Elementary.
What do you love most about your school?
No matter the student population of our school, it has always been a tight community between parents, staff and students. Over the years that I have been at IES, we have grown tremendously and also had rapid declines in student population. Our largest year, we had (more than) 1,300 students, while (at) our smallest, we were just under 700. We are always looking out for each (other) regardless of circumstance!
What is your motivation?
My motivation is my students and my work ethic. Without my amazing Eagles, I would not have the incredible job of creating art every day! My work ethic was given by my parents. They taught me to always be the best version of myself which drives me to be the best art teacher for my kids.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The list could be endless! However, the most rewarding part of my job is watching a student light up when they have success with their art. In elementary school, a class full of students can all be at different levels artistically. I remind them constantly to compare only your work with your own. When they see what they can accomplish no matter their skill, their excitement is why I push myself so hard.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Of course, art is a given! I also enjoy reading fantasy novels, playing my guitar, dabbling on the piano with minimal success and watching my favorite sports teams. Go Dawgs and Go Braves! My most enjoyable activity, though, is hanging out with my husband, my cat and my beagle.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
Mrs. Re-Darling, my art teacher in high school. I took every art class my school offered, and she taught them all. She allowed me to explore all different facets of art in a most exciting way. She told me when I graduated that I needed to be an art teacher. I thought she was crazy to think that at the time, and yet here I am.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
When I was 7, I took my first trip to Disney. As we walked into Magic Kingdom for the first time, my mother said that I turned to her and exclaimed, “I want to be an Imagineer when I grow up.” I will consider it a success as I work as an art teacher 10 minutes from the back door of Disney World!
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
I adore fantasy novels, and the first book series I read outside of assigned school work was the sixth Harry Potter book. I have now read the series more times than I can count. J.K. Rowling writes with such vivid detail, and I love how each book seemed to match the age of the main characters.
Who would you say is your biggest inspiration and why?
My biggest inspiration professionally speaking is Walt Disney. His work ethic, his imagination and his business mind all inspire me to be a better artist and teacher. My personal inspiration is my Nana, because she has never treated a single person with disrespect and always puts everyone else first. I strive to be a version of both.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love to have the superpower of teleportation. I love going places, but driving makes me so sleepy! Not to mention having the ability to pop in and out of places at work would save time!
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Miranda Lambert, because I love her country voice. She does not sing a song that I don’t like. Evanescence, because they are led by a woman with a powerhouse voice with some awesome big band sounds. Finally, Idina Menzel, because I love her voice. She could be singing about a brown paper bag, and I would stop to listen!