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More Than Just a Math Teacher

Camilo Fonseca, Kaitlyn Kuzianik, and Rachel Lenett

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To be an IB student at Palm Harbor and not be familiar with Christine Brzycki is like being a Floridian unfamiliar with the concept of the sun. Amongst IB sophomores, her spirit is omnipresent; and yet, there is much more to Mrs. Brzycki than meets the eye.

 

As a teacher for the vast majority of the Pre-IB 10th graders, Mrs. Brzycki provides the students with a brisk and energetic education in either Geometry & Trigonometry or Precalculus, as well as offering tutoring after school for various math courses. She has been at Palm Harbor for several years, and is widely respected both among the students and the faculty. Apart from her instructional jobs, she also manages to keep up with two other jobs and yet, still finds time to pursue her true passion: traveling.

 

“I feel that I only have one life and there’s a big world out there,” she said, “and I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t see more of it.”

 

Her love for traveling stems from her childhood; however, her travels as a kid were limited to Ohio and different parts of Florida. “When I was old enough, I thought I didn’t see much of the world, I only saw Indian Rocks Beach. That’s why I wanted to go to other places,” Brzycki said.

 

As the years went by, with journeys to a sum of ten European countries, as well as locales in South America and Canada, she has more than made up for it. She has experienced so much, that, aside from repelling down castle walls, Brzycki cannot single out any favorite travel experience in particular.

 

“They’re all so unbelievable. Even just doing the smallest things is fun.” she said. “Just playing cards on the bus is fun.[…] It’s really the whole package. Its seeing the sights, meeting new people, trying new foods, sleeping in different living quarters.”

 

In fact, not only is she well known for her worldwide travels, she also sponsors and cosponsors student trips to various places, with only the most recent being Peru, Greece, and France.

 

Why does she willingly spend more time with students, you might ask?

 

“I love their energy and enthusiasm,” she said. “I love that they don’t have arthritis, and they are active and they have positive attitudes; everything is new and fresh to them, and they’re excited to be there.”

 

For her, it isn’t just about the things you do on these trips, it’s the people you do them with. “Getting to know the students really well, that was wonderful, and getting close to them and seeing them get close to each other.”

 

One student in particular stood out to her. Known as “the MVP”, he would get on the microphone and act as the group’s “cheerleader’. This boy even managed to befriend someone else in Spain, and their heartbreaking goodbye left Brzycki wishing they could stay a little longer.

 

It was the students that retained a positive attitude and a lot of energy after complete exhaustion that Brzycki truly appreciated.

 

The trips are not only impactful for her; many of the individual students that have went on her trips have been impacted in many ways as well. Brzycki has helped them see there is more that can be incorporated into a student-teacher relationship outside of a classroom dynamic.

 

IB Junior, Sophia Surowiec, who went on one of these trips to Europe, shared her experiences and stories.

 

“My favorite part was seeing the Eiffel Tower light up at night, it was pretty magical.” Surowiec said. “But, by far, my favorite place was Bellagio in Italy because it was so beautiful.”

 

Ashton Bedlack, a junior in the medical program, who also went on the same trip, said, “It made me fall even more in love with traveling and inspired me to want to travel more in the future!”

 

Surowiec and Bedlack, along with their other travel companions, shared their affinity for traveling with each other, other students, and of course, Mrs. Brzycki.

 

Brzycki hopes that by going on these trips the students will leave each and every country they visit with a lasting impression and a new love of seeing the world.

 

“I just hope that they appreciate and learn as much as I do,” she said. “[I hope] it opens their minds’ to travel in the future, [and overall] just broadens their horizons.”

 

 

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The School Newspaper of Palm Harbor University High School
More Than Just a Math Teacher