Sitting on the edge of the largest urban forest in the world, ten feet from the desks of aspiring 4th grade students sits a sanctuary rich with toucans, monkeys, gigantic lizards, crazy bugs, and more. But for these students, and all those at the Escola Americana of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, their proximity to the Praque Nacional da Tijuca only enhances their learning and provides an instant connection to subjects like biology, ecology, and more. And for some teachers, like alum Brian Hurst, '94, it becomes an outdoor classroom every now and again.
Brian Hurst, '94, currently teachers 4th grade at the American School of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, a PK-12 American school, international in nature. The school, in Brian's opinion, has many similarities to St. Joseph, and having been the recipient of a strong education, Brian is passionate about giving students that same foundation.
The Hurst family grew up in the Mount Baker area of Seattle. Both Brian and his brother, Spencer, 'XX, attended St. Joseph School from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Former Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Andrews recalls Brian's first day at school. His mom, worried that Brian would be shy or scared, arrived early to introduce him to his teacher. However, as the day progressed, Mrs. Andrews still remembers how Brian was the life of the classroom and wasn't a bit shy. As Brian's education continued he remembered Mr. Woletz' class, appreciating how he "looked for different ways to engage students and was forward thinking about environmental issues, water consumption, purchasing behaviors and more. He very much influenced my worldview and made it fun while he did it!"
Brian graduated from St. Joseph and continued his Catholic education attending Seattle Preparatory School High School, Santa Clara University, majoring in Spanish and communications, and finally Seattle University for his Masters in Teaching. Brian was always intrigued with the possibility of living abroad, experiencing new cultures, and stepping outside one's comfort zone. All things he would later come to witness in the classroom as a teacher.
Because of the diversity of the American School Brian is able to connect with students from all over the world. Often times, because of the international student body, the classroom dynamic is extraordinary because there is student representation from every continent. Brian feels that teaching in an international school "allows me to learn so much from my students and feel tangibly connected to the world."
Brian values the time he had at St. Joseph School, the ways the teachers supported him and instilled him with a strong sense of compassion and empathy, values he continues to hand down to his students today. When Brian isn't sharing his gift of teaching he enjoys photography, running, yoga, reading, and traveling, especially around Brazil.