By Emily Williams
Brookwood Forest Elementary Assistant Principal Christy Christian does not consider herself a fashionista, but for the third year, she will walk the runway at the Mountain Brook City School’s Foundation’s annual Fashions for the Foundation Nov. 9.
Christian said that one of her favorite experiences from the show is coming in contact with local clothing stores that she had never thought to enter.
“I wore things I never would have before,” Christian said. “I see The Pink Tulip all of the time, but had never been.”
She describes her style as classic with a wardrobe that features a lot of a-line skirts and dresses, but during her first fashion show The Pink Tulip had her in a pair of flat, knee-high boots and skinny jeans.
“I always wear heels, probably every day,” she said. “I didn’t wear heels. They totally took me out of my comfort zone.”
The next year, her eyes were opened to Monkee’s in English Village.
“I drive by that store all of the time when I’m on my way to the Junior League,” she said. “I had never been in there before.”
Though she doesn’t deem herself fashion forward, she said she has many friends who take a lot of risks and she’s bringing them to the show this year to get some inspiration and support her school system.
“It gives (teachers and administrators) a way to participate and raise awareness for the foundation while, at the same time, having fun,” Christian said. It is normal for teachers and administrators to sit down with parents and describe the foundation and what it does for Mountain Brook Schools, but she said the show is a way to promote the cause on a different platform.
“I love Brookwood Forrest,” she said. “I love our school system, what we stand for and the freedom we have – the autonomy we have – to reach (the school system’s) goals.”
One way that those goals are achieved are through Foundation funded programs like technology, instructors and – most importantly – professional development.
“The very first thing is professional development,” Christian said. “(Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlowe) has the same vision that Dr. Mason, the former superintendent, had as far as learning. If students are going to learn we have to invest in teacher learning. That is usually through embedded staff development or staff development that happens outside of the school.” She said that teachers do not just learn on development days, programs are constantly occurring on a district level or even further. Teachers are often sent to other locations, whether that be in-state or out-of-state, to conferences where they gather information and then return to their school to present their findings to other instructors.
“Teachers love to listen to other teachers,” she said. “They buy in more. So, the Foundation provides the funding for us to do that professional development.”
Brookwood Forest blocks off two hours every other Friday for teachers to sign up for workshops. Funds from the Foundation are used to pay substitute teachers who cover the classroom while teachers are in these workshops.
As far as technology is concerned, Christian said the funds are always needed with the rapid advancement of products.
“This age that we’re in, it’s not about the devices necessarily but how we use technology to enhance learning,” she said. Many kids already know how to operate devices, so it’s important for the teachers to learn how to use devices to their advantage.
Finally, funds from the Foundation are used to employ a math coach. It is a standard for the school to employ reading coaches – in fact, Christian was a reading coach for Brookwood Forest before accepting her current position.
“As we learn more in the area of reading and math, we need those coaches to work side-by-side with teachers,” she said. “They’re whole goal is to equip the teachers with the ability to impact students and learn more about the content.” Recent changes to the Common Core have made it necessary for math coaches to help teachers learn the new techniques that students are expected to learn.
“You have a live model there, working with students, to show you exactly what that process should look like,” she said. “It’s not that the coach has all of the answers, it is that they are there to work with you to arrive at a point where you are helping kids.”
By supporting the Foundation, Christian said donors will be supporting all three of these techniques that are utilized daily in not only Brookwood Forest, but each Mountain Brook city school.
“We appreciate the work that our parents do to support our school system,” she said. “That foundation is made up of parents that have a genuine concern about our school system continuing to be number one.” Mountain Brook does not only strive to be a top school system in the state of Alabama, Christian said they also hope to rank nationally.
“I love that we have a venue where we are able to fund the different things that we need – whether that be professional development, whether that be technology – which is changing so fast – or whether that be instructional coaches,” she said.
Fashions for the Foundation will begin at 11 a.m. and will take place in the newly opened Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook. The show will consist of fashions supplied by local merchants and will benefit the Foundation’s efforts to support Mountain Brook City Schools. Individual tickets are $100 and tables of eight are available for $800.
For more information, visit www.mtnbrookschoolsfoundation.com or call 414-0042.