Welcome to Brunswick County

Director Shares with International Teachers

On Wednesday, March 16th, Alfreda Jarrett Reynolds, Director of Economic Development for Brunswick County, spoke to a group of international teachers from Africa, Jamaica, and the Philippines at J.S. Russell Middle School. Her presentation was entitled "Unpacking the Invisible Backpack." Mrs. Reynolds has 21 years of teaching experience, and she shared from her wealth of experience and knowledge. 

During the presentation, Mrs. Reynolds shared that students come to school carrying baggage that we can't see every day. They bring this in what we like to call, an "invisible backpack". This invisible backpack has things like poverty, hunger, fear, and abuse. All the while, teachers are asking, "Where is your pencil" "Where is your homework?" "Why are you sleeping?" To reach students, she told the group that it's essential to have a perspective on accountability vs. reality. Obviously, teachers need to hold their students accountable; however, sometimes, the reality of their situation must take precedence over whether the child has a pencil or is prepared to come to class.  

Mrs. Reynolds shared actual statistics related to Brunswick County students. Her statistics included data about poverty, hunger, abuse, and education, and it came from sources including the Brunswick County Department of Social Services, Niche.com, U.S, Census Data, Data USA, Stacker.com, and VDOE School Quality Profiles. Mrs. Reynolds included this data to give these teachers a perspective on the students that they have been charged with teaching. Mrs. Reynolds then went on to talk about how teachers can teach effectively when their students have so much baggage. She stressed the importance of meeting students where they are, building relationships with all students, refusing to fail, and building stronger partnerships to help all children succeed and grow. 

At the end of the presentation, Mrs. Reynolds answered questions from most of the teachers in attendance and gave them real-world examples of handling situations in their classrooms. Mrs. Reynolds shares, "It was very exciting to spend time with these lovely teachers from across the globe. How fortunate we are to have such cultural diversity in our teaching workforce. These ladies and gentlemen bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their posts. Our students are blessed to have teachers that represent so many nationalities. This affords them a rich multicultural experience while learning the core curriculum. I am grateful to the Russell Middle School staff for welcoming me back to their school and I sincerely hope to be involved in future community outreach activities. As Arthur Ashe once said, "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."
For Pictures of this event, click HERE