“We wanted to get our community involved with the learning that would be taking place over Earth Week and provide students with opportunities to make an impact through their activities.”
Brianna Maxwell is an Elementary School (ES) Grade 2 Teacher and has been with ISKL for the past four years. Born and raised in the US, Brianna, an avid traveler, has lived and worked in several places in the USA and China before moving to KL. After completing her service at ISKL in June, Brianna will continue her teaching journey by moving to Bogota in Colombia.
Here is Brianna’s story:
Do tell us more about yourself.
I am what is commonly referred to as an “Army brat.” I was born and raised in the US, moving place-to-place as the child of an Army officer. I moved to Kansas City, Missouri, in Grade 10 and stayed a while, raising my awesome kiddo, Bella (’23), but I never lost my love of traveling.
From coast-to-coast road trips to summers in Sierra Leone, I continued to travel until finally deciding to move abroad. So, in 2014 I packed up our things, and we moved to Hangzhou, China. Bella and I loved being immersed in the culture there; what started as a two-year plan continued for five years. When the time came for Bella to go on to high school, we both decided that we were ready for a new adventure and moved to ISKL and beautiful Malaysia.
When and why did you join ISKL? What were your first days like?
We joined ISKL in 2019. The first few weeks felt like a blur of excitement and busyness! ISKL was twice the size of our previous school, and it took some getting used to the number of people and the campus size! And to the heat.
Can you tell us more about your work on Earth Week at ES?
The ES Service and Sustainability team and Ms.Tracy Caton started planning the Earth Week events in January. We wanted to get our community involved with the learning that would be taking place over that week and to provide students with opportunities to make an impact through their activities. Our focus was on reducing consumption, especially of plastic and textiles, so we planned activities such as teaching students how to say “Tak Nak Straw” (no straw) and an ES clothing swap. The PTA took our idea of a clothing swap and made it happen; it was so fun! The kids were able to experience the fun of choosing something new (to them), and they had a good experience.
Describe your most memorable moment/s at ISKL.
I don’t know if I have a most memorable moment, as my experience here at ISKL could be best described as a feeling about many little moments. I am filled with gratitude for the connections I’ve made with awesome kiddos and their smiles and growth, the colleagues that have become friends that have become family, the team that supports and laughs, and the community that made it through tough times together.
What is the thing that you will miss the most about ISKL?
The core of ISKL – the people!
Can you share a saying or idea you learned or experienced at ISKL that you will carry with you constantly?
Trust and lean on your people!
Do you have any advice to offer for new faculty members who are joining the community?
Say yes to things! Sometimes in the chaos of being someplace new and learning the ropes, we get overwhelmed and withdraw. Definitely take the time you need for self-care but also jump into new things and challenge yourself to try new things.
Who or what is your source of inspiration?
Haha – Maybe this will sound weird, but young Brianna Maxwell is my inspiration. I struggled in school from early childhood until high school. As a neurodiverse person, constantly moving, making connections at school, or feeling successful was sometimes challenging. As an educator, I always try to build an inclusive environment for kids and to make them feel seen and valued.
What are your plans once you leave ISKL?
I am moving to Bogota, Colombia! I look forward to a new adventure as I have never been to South America!
What does ‘”Know yourself, care for all and create a better world”‘ mean to you?
It represents a commitment to a process or journey we are all on. As people, we are constantly learning and changing, and it takes effort to check in with ourselves and reflect on that process. Caring for and knowing others helps us grow as individuals, expanding and diversifying our perspectives and understanding of the world around us. At the end of the day, every educator hopes they are helping to create a better world through their efforts.
Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.