Greetings and salutations! I’m Brittany Echols and I’m waving to you all from Waldorf, Maryland! Umm let’s see, where do I start…well I’m the newly hired Health Education Curriculum Manager and while I’ve always loved health education, I didn’t have a linear path into the profession.
As a military child, I spent most of my formative years growing up outside of the Nation’s Capital. From the time I was in middle school I told myself, I would never go into the family business—education, instead I would be an athletic trainer. After graduating high school early, I attended Virginia State University (VSU). VSU did not officially have an athletic training or kinesiology program, but I was able to major in health education and add classes like kinesiology and physiology to my course load. I thoroughly enjoyed my courses; however, once I had started interning with the athletic trainer, I realized that athletic training probably wasn’t going to be the best fit for me.
Once I graduated from VSU, I moved back to Maryland for what I thought would be a brief period (little did I know, that wouldn’t be the case)! A few months after graduation, I was offered a job as a dance coach at one of the local high schools, that work led to a long-term sub position, which eventually positioned me to become a special education teacher. During my time coaching a lot of my dancers shared things with me, which I felt should have been addressed in the health education class. Seeing the gap, I realized that I needed to be in a health education class, providing students with quality comprehensive health education. That prompted me to take courses at Towson University and earn a Master’s degree in school and community health, and shortly thereafter becoming a certified health education specialist (CHES). Even though I had received my Master’s and CHES, I was unable to transition into a health educator position at the school where I was coaching and teaching. As a result, I moved to a different school in a neighboring district. While teaching health education in this new role, I had the opportunity to attend a professional development, facilitated by Cairn Guidance’s Director, Jess Lawrence. It was in that PD that I realized how much I enjoyed developing curriculum. That one realization led to many doors being opened, one being an educational specialist position in Baltimore City Public Schools. While in that role, I supported health and physical education teachers, developed district curriculum, assisted in the development of the Maryland Health Education Framework, updated K-High School scope and sequences to ensure alignment to the new Framework, and even reconnected with Jess. After reconnecting and admiring the work that Cairn Guidance produced for us, I told myself I wish I could work for an organization like Cairn, a company that is well-versed in high-quality skills-based health education, that is innovative, and leading the way to accessible and equitable health education for all students. Therefore, I leapt at the opportunity of being the health education curriculum manager.
As the health education curriculum manager, I’ve hit the ground running! Within the first month I reviewed and completed final edits for 30+ lessons, related to a project we’re finishing up. I’m also providing training to the Dove Self-Esteem Project cadre members on three new tools— Celebrándome, My Hair My Crown, and Proud to Be Me (please let me know if you want more information about these tools 😉). As I continue to learn my role, I’m most excited about supporting other health educators become comfortable and confident when providing comprehensive health education, as well as making skills-based health education accessible to young people across the country. If you haven’t been able to tell, I pretty much hold comprehensive skills-based health education close to my heart, so if you ever want to learn more or work together, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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