Name: Karen Brandt
Education History: Graduate Degree from Towson State in Math and Physical Education
Years started at Blair: 2001
Previous jobs: owned construction business, taught physical education
Hobbies: working out, physical activities, teaching
Karen Brandt politely asks the students in her room to turn the volume down on the television. The music video becomes less noisy as one of the ten or fifteen students presses a button on the remote.
Brandt's classroom is always open during 5B lunch for students that want to study math, watch BET, or hang out. Brandt wants to make sure the students have a good place to study, while also allowing students to have fun.
In her third year at Blair, Brandt has always cared a lot about students and tries to help them get opportunities they might not otherwise receive. She frequently invites students to plays, concerts, and ballgames to let them experience the wonders of life. For the last fourteen years she has taught gym or math, but the most important thing to her is to help students live up to their potential.
Years ago, Brandt managed her own construction business named J.L. Brandt and Son. The small family owned firm created pallets, or "skids", as she calls them, which would support large crates. The pallets were vitally important to tractors, trailers, and forklifts, none of which could operate without them.
In her 14,000 square foot warehouse, she made pallets for grocery stores up and down the east coast, and custom designed them for individuals. She employed fifteen to twenty people to make these vital parts for shipping goods.
Eventually, J.L. Brandt and Son Inc. was driven out by stiff competition. As other companies started to make pallets, prices were driven too low and she could no longer make a profit. "It was fun while it lasted," she says, chuckling as she remembers old times.
A student comes up to her to ask for some help with math. With an eager smile, she says she will be right with him as soon as she's done.
Everyday, she offers help to students before and after school. She likes to help them, and they seem to enjoy her company. She loves to teach and be with her students, whether she is assisting them academically or bringing them to concerts and ballgames.
Brandt feels she can make a difference in students' lives by inviting them to these places. Some of her students cannot afford to go, and she wants to bring opportunity and inspiration to them. In the past, she has taken them to Rainforest Café, the Aquarium, Orioles games and Little Italy.
One of her favorite things she remembers about these visits is when she took several students to ESPN Zone. "It was hysterical to watch the kids on those rides," she said.
Ever since she has started to interact with students outside of school, she has grown into a Ravens and Orioles fan. Being a native of Baltimore, she chose the teams of her birthplace.
In addition to attending events with students, she takes classes on field trips, encourages individuals to talk to her or get help and lets students eat lunch in her room to promote their development.
When she is not teaching or meeting with students, Brandt likes to run, work out with weights and take aerobic classes.
This summer, Brandt found time when she was not teaching summer school to drive up to Cape Cod for a week with her husband. "[One week] wasn't long enough," she regrets.
Primarily, they went to shop and see the sights, which she enjoyed tremendously. In addition, they went on a fishing trip for one of the days they were there. Between the two of them, they caught twelve fish, croakers and bass. "It was a blast," she said, smiling broadly.
With no kitchen in their room, they sought someone to prepare the fish for them, but no one they asked was interested. She was slightly disappointed, she recalls, but still enjoyed the fishing experience.
Brandt notices the volume of the television has risen too much again. She politely asks for it to be lowered, and the students gladly do her the favor.