Husband, wife duo share passion for teaching students
James Brand and Amy O'Reilly-Brand are teachers at Viera High School.
photo by julie sturgeon
Viera High School teachers James Brand and Amy O’Reilly-Brand share more than a marriage. They share a love of teaching.
The husband and wife teachers are passionate about their chosen subjects, and they are passionate about their students. O’Reilly-Brand teaches reading, while James Brand teaches U.S. History.
“I’ve always chosen to work with struggling students, O’Reilly-Brand said. “I find it very rewarding. We have graduating seniors right now who have worked very hard.”
She said that standardized testing has changed teaching and it can be a struggle for many students.
“Reading for enjoyment tends to decrease among high school students. I really try to get my kids to love reading.”
On certain days, she allows students to read a book of their choice with the goal of enhancing their enjoyment of reading. Many of the students in O’Reilly-Brand’s ninth-grade classes move on to husband Brand’s class for 10th-grade U.S. History at Viera High School.
“I love being able to teach history in a perspective students can understand,” Brand said. “A lot of kids coming into my class don’t know much about U.S. History. They want to know what’s going on right now, with Iraq and Iran and the government.”
“I love my kids,” Brand says of his students. “I have the regular students, and I think I can have a big impact on them. I was a cut-up in school, and I don’t want my students to be like I was.”
Brand’s sense of humor likely helps him bond with his students. “I wanted to have my class right next to my wife but she wouldn’t let me,”
Brand served as a Marine prior to teaching, then retired in 2003. That’s when he decided to become a teacher. Fortunately, his schooling was paid for due to his service. O’Reilly-Brand has been teaching at Viera High since the school opened. She began her teaching career 20 years ago.
Although the Brands are separated by just one classroom, they rarely see each other during the school day due to their busy teaching schedules. Life after school is hectic for the couple also. Brand is a coach for the VHS wrestling team and his seventh-grade daughter’s Viera Soccer Club team.