Viera’s O’Reilly-Brand named BPS top Intensive Language Arts Teacher
Viera High School's Amy O'Reilly-Brand has been named the Intensive Language Arts Teacher of the Year for Brevard Public Schools.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
Amy O’Reilly-Brand doesn’t want to just help her Viera High School students become better readers.
She wants to inspire them, too.
And because of her success in the classroom, O’Reilly-Brand was named the Intensive Language Arts Teacher of the Year for Brevard Public Schools last month and has a chance to win the state award at a reading conference being held in November in Orlando.
“My goal as a Reading Strategies teacher is to help teach them strategies that they can use in all of their content areas to help them become better readers, to help them retain more information and help them make connections between what they already know and new information that they’re reading about,” O’Reilly-Brand said.
A Viera High original — she’s been teaching there since the school opened in 2006 — O’Reilly-Brand is now in her 22nd year of teaching.
Her husband, James Brand, also is a teacher at the school. And her family has a long history of being in education.
“My grandmother was a reading teacher for 33 years,” O’Reilly-Brand said. “Back then, it was considered remedial reading. She taught for Department of Defense schools, so she taught over in England and Germany and then she came stateside.
“I guess it runs in the family. My mom also taught college courses at the community college level in Las Vegas. Teachers are a big part of my family. I’m a third-generation teacher.”
Viera High principal Mike Alba commended O’Reilly-Brand not only for her teaching chops, but for her ability to connect with her students.
“Mrs. O'Reilly-Brand is an exceptional educator,” Alba said. “She believes that all students in her class can be successful. Students know that Mrs. O'Reilly-Brand genuinely cares about them and works hard to ensure each student receives the extra support necessary for their success.”
Because most of her students struggle to read when they first come to her class, O’Reilly-Brand said the most fulfilling part of her job is having students come back during their sophomore, junior or senior years to tell her about the books they’re now reading. And, of course, to see them eventually graduate.
“I’m an avid reader, so I love reading myself,” she said. “I like trying to bring that joy of reading back to my students. So many of them lose that in the mid-part of their elementary years. That’s when it hits and they start not liking reading at all.
“I’m trying to show them that it cannot only be useful, but enjoyable. I find it a big accomplishment when I have students at the end of the year say, ‘This is the most I’ve ever read.’
“I find that more rewarding than, ‘Hey, I passed the end-of-the-year test.’”