Brittany Rothermel: A Rock of George Watts

By Rohan Guddanti

In this project, I chose to focus on Ms. Brittany Rothermel, the EC teacher at George Watts Montessori. She works with the youngest students of the school up to 4th graders, and every grade level in between. Ms. Brittany navigates her role as an EC teacher like an expert; she not only soothes her students, but helps them nourish their passion and their brilliance. Ms. Brittany fosters collaboration between both students who work with her and those who don't regularly; thus, all of her students feel part of a community, and never isolated or alienated.

I would like to extend my greatest thanks to Ms. Brittany for letting me into her community and her classroom. She has one of the busiest and most chaotic schedules of the teachers at George Watts, yet she was incredibly gracious and considerate throughout my time in this project. From sending me copies of her schedule, to introducing me to everyone of her students, and texting me her plans for the week, she made working with her a pleasure. She always greeted me with a smile, and it was an absolute honor seeing how gracefully she touched her students and made a positive difference in their lives. I would further like to thank Ms Brittany's students, including Maya, Gabe, Avery, Zaikayah, and Matthew. It was an honor forming friendships with them. As someone whose sister is also part of EC and special education programs, yet has never been able to successfully integrate into the general classroom, it was invaluable to see how George Watts was able to break this cycle.

I was able to profoundly consider how I represented the story of Ms Brittany's students. I wanted to make sure I gave positive representation to each student, especially given the reach my project has to not only Watts, but the Durham community at all. Thus, I focused on showing the moments of happiness and collaboration Ms Brittany had with her students, and avoiding ostracizing her students nor perpetuating the narrative of suffering associated with EC students. Overall, I am so grateful to have been given the privilege of uncovering the magic Ms Brittany brings to Watts!