CB’s Story


Brooke Haviland, Digital Creator

Jennifer Carney Brush has been a Phys Ed teacher for 26 years, 24 at East Lyme High School, teaching freshman Academy, freshman gym, and lifetime gym . She is a mother of 3 girls: 17 Natalie, 16 Lily, and 13 Viola. Her husband teaches band at East Lyme High School.  One of her biggest accomplishments is that she has run four full  marathons & ten half marathons. She loves to dance & clean, and hike with her dog Millie. CB loves the beach. And when she retires, she wants to travel & be a party planner.

By sharing CB’s story I hope to spread positivity and perseverance. I want students to choose the right options and path for themselves. By telling her story of how she started her career and where she came from can inspire us and teach us there’s always different paths you can go down and CB’s story can help the student body find their own path. And I believe the entire student body can learn from this whether they know her or not. She has made an unbelievable impact on my life, and I hope others can relate to this. 

When I first came to ELHS I didn’t really feel connected to any of the teachers, and I didnt have an adult figure in the building I could talk to, but the first day in CB’s class her smile and attitude brought joy to the room. CB helped me understand my position in this school and she helped me recognize the opportunities open to me. Because of her I’ve created goals for myself, I joined the Rotary club, and I even joined the field hockey team. 

She has taught me so much in and out of the classroom and I hope others can have the same opportunity talking to and learning from CB.  I couldn’t imagine this school without her. 


BH: Why did you decide to be a teacher? And what age did you figure out what you wanted to do?

CB: “So first I always thought I wanted to be a trainer, or something with sports since I’ve always been kind of athletic, but then I had a class with kids and I was like ‘Oh! I like kids’ ‘ so then that’s when I thought Huh, so maybe I’ll be a P.E teacher.’. I was about 20 or 21. It wasn’t something that I knew in high school. If you told me in high school that I was going to be a teacher, I’d think you’re crazy. But then I just did this class with Dr. Williams, and it was just a fun class, and the kids were awesome, and we just had fun. So it was just a fun time.“

BH: What inspires you to be a teacher? 

CB: “You know, last night I was watching America’s Got Talent, and a clip came on. My husband turned the tv on and there was this chorus teacher from D


etroit who had this whole big group of chorus kids and they performed and it was just such an uplifting, inspiring performance. Simon  was getting emotional, and I was crying because these kids just had so much excitement and passion, and something that made them feel so good, so I feel like for me, what inspires me as a teacher is the same thing. It’s like just trying to make people passionate or excited about what they’re doing, and make them feel good. And he’s probably given so many kids this, and it’s probably their favorite class of the day. I think his name was Dr. Brown or something like that. Just things like that make me feel good and that inspires me. I just want to help people get through the day, laugh, and like themselves.”

BH: Tell me about your life before becoming a teacher? 

CB: “College life, and I had always worked at a restaurant, so I would make tables, bartend, barback. I went to Eastern, the restaurant was called Angellinos, and it was kind of like a mom and pop restaurant in the area. It was so good the the servings were huge, but I loved it”

BH: Can you describe your teaching style? How has it changed since you first started?

CB: “Obnoxious, loud, in your face, real, I don’t think I try to hide many things, honest, hands on, a lot of discussion based, like talking and listening, I think I do a lot of that, but just ’let’s do it, let’s not talk about, just let’s do it’. I don’t think it’s really changed that much., I’ve always kind of had a class where it’s been like I’ve loved being in circles, like those discussions. I don’t really think it’s changed that much. I think in the beginning you know you feel like maybe it’s not like factual enough where you’re spitting out facts and stuff, it’s more feelings based. Freshman Academy and even lifetime is, how it’s just kind of experiences with each other a lot. So, I don’t really think it’s changed that much.”

BH: How do you motivate your students? 

CB: “I try to make them feel good and believe in themselves. I try, I don’t know if I’m always successful at it or not but I also try to make them feel safe so that they’re willing to take those risks, and that they can trust me and the process and the environment.”

BH: Is there any advice you would give the student body about finding their own path?

CB: “I mean I always say to anyone, you choose your career, pick a job that you love and that makes you happy, like Mrs. Thompson and I love coming to school. Some people with work are like “ugh work” and there’s some days when I’m like that but we have fun, I mean I work with good people, and kids, and I’m just happy doing what i’m doing. So my advice to people when you’re picking your job is that going to be the rest of your life, pick something that brings you joy and happiness, and it’s hard because a lot of people get caught up in money, but I think that there’s other things, money not everything. Find something that you’re passionate about and what makes you happy.”

BH: Being a teacher, what goals do you have for you and your students?

CB: “Well my goal for my students is to always push themselves, and step outside their comfort zone. And for me the same thing, trying new things, not being afraid to try new things, be open-minded to that, and having goals and setting that example is really important for my students, or try to at least. It’s important for you guys to see me taking care of myself when I’m talking to you guys about the same thing. So everybody has their own individualized goals about what they want to do, just again, try to find a thing that’s important to you and make that your goal, you want to get better at it, so I try to encourage that.”

BH: Was it hard becoming a teacher and balancing your personal life? If so, what were the hardest challenges? 

CB: “Well back when I was just beginning to be a teacher, that was all I knew. My personal life is school. I don’t say that I’m going to work, today I say we’re going to school, it’s become my life kind of. I have my husband here too, so it’s kinda like I consumed school or school consumed me, I don’t know if that’s the best way to describe it. All my best friends are people that I work with at school, so to balance that, it was harder to balance when I had children and having a family but you figure it out.”

BH: How did you know this career was right for you? Any bumps in the road? And if so, how did you overcome those challenges?

CB: “I just think because it just makes me happy. My sister was a state trooper, and she would always brag about how she gets to retire in twenty years, and she’s retired now and doesn’t know what to do with herself. She did not like going to work,and I don’t feel that way. I feel like if I had ten more years of teaching left, I think I’d still be doing zumba on my last day. It’s the things that make me happy, that’s what I think is right you know. Oh yeah, there were lots of challenges. Because I am a person who like, Mr. Susi, our old principle said my passion can help me and hurt me, and sometimes when I believe a certain thing, I get in that zone, and it’s hard to be like it doesn’t always work the way you wanted it to, and that can be frustrating. I definitely struggled accepting feedback and criticism, but I take it a little better now. I think some people learned how to give feedback in a way that doesn’t seem like it’s so like beating you up. That was hard for me to kind of deal with people trying to tell me ‘do it this way.’ I’m definitely the kind of person who pushes boundaries, which gets me in trouble sometimes, but I’m doing it for the right reasons, but it just might not be from an administrator’s perspective, the best thing to do.”

BH: What is the best part of this job? And what is the best advice you would give present and future students? 

CB: “Coming to work with my Bff, Mrs. Thompson. Well for me and for both of us most days we are moving around and exercising while we work, and getting paid. We get paid to have fun. And we also have a lot of control, the principals just say get this covered, and they don’t care how we do it, and we just add personality in there. We have freedom to kind of do whatever we want to do. Like today, nobody told me what I had to do in there, I just did that because that’s what I wanted to do, and what the kids wanted to do. When kids are happy, it rubs off, and same thing when teachers are happy, kids are happy. So trying to provide a space and make everyone feel good. ““Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire “”It’s one of my quotes that I have on my bathroom wall. So go after it, don’t give up. I think kindness and compassion go a long way too, and that’s some that’s really important, and forgiveness. And my other favorite quote is “don’t let anyone make you feel inferior without your consent” and you have control of your decisions and what you do and how you act, and that’s up to you. It’s all in your hands, you choose what you want for yourself.”