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on young lives.

Graduation Issue - Summer 2013

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to tulations a r g n o C 2013. ay 31st, ll of M , y a id crowd fu n Fr d e o it e c c x la e p k t of an ny too as in fron eremo een m C lo t n ip e d ir and Coll e ) cem h h t n ls e d a e m W iv m Marie o rece ool Co to uates wh er of Carey d hm Sch th a e o r r m g ( B larship h h 3 1 o ig ls 0 a h H 2 c r W S e io h n l T Jun rlee moria ony, Cha igh and 2 lsh Me m H e a r r e W io c n ie e e r h ing t the 29 S rey Ma nds. Dur ie The Ca r f d e d d n r a a , ) aw staff r. arie Walsh families, hool yea M c s ey g r a in C f m ro upco ang (siste J. for the x le Walsh-L A d n t H. a nts, Scot e d u t s o tw

Kyle E. won the Brehm Parents Association’s

Bradley H. won the Brehm Parents Association’s

Inspiration Award, which

Citizenship Award, which

is given to a graduate who displays persistence and courage in facing and pursuing personal, academic, and social challenges.

is given to a graduate who displays the qualities of a good citizen – cooperative, courteous, dependable, helpful, and thoughtful.

Armen B. won the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence.

This Award is presented to the top academic student. Armen received a certificate, a pin, and a signed letter from President Barack Obama.

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By Dalus Downs, Coordinator of Communications During the Spring Parent and Family Weekend dinner held on April 6 at Brehm Preparatory School, staff, faculty, students, families, alumni and other stakeholders celebrated Brehm’s 30th anniversary and learned about the school’s rich history.

experience at Brehm made my transition to college quite easy. More importantly, I was motivated to pursue higher education and eventually become a teacher myself.” Brehm’s proximity to Southern Illinois University also helped Hugh. “Having Brehm located in Carbondale was an excellent way to expose me and other students to the college lifestyle of hard work and creative play,” he said. Hugh’s roommate at Brehm was Tyson Brehm, Carol’s son. After discovering that the public school system and traditional boarding schools could not address Tyson’s needs, Carol Brehm founded Brehm for her son and other students with learning disabilities.

Brehm Alumnus Hugh Sakols and wife Mara on a ski trip.

Speakers – including Rev. Stacy Brehm Tate, president of Brehm’s Board of Trustees and daughter of Brehm’s founder Carol Brehm – told how the school grew from Carol Brehm’s dream into an international boarding school, welcoming children with learning disabilities into the Brehm family.

“Tyson and I just kind of hit it off. I always had, and still do, a wacky and irreverent sense of humor, which he seemed to admire. And, Tyson could make me laugh. He had a great spirit and way of making everything fun. We quickly became pals,” Hugh said. “I think we understood each other’s frustrations and, at times, embarrassment of being labeled as ‘LD.’”

Hugh Sakols was in attendance at the celebration, but he didn’t need

to hear about the history of Brehm; he’s lived it. Hugh came to Brehm in January 1983 and was in the first graduating class at Brehm in 1984. “My parents had been aware that I had a specific learning disability since I was in elementary school,” he said. “While going to public high school in Palo Alto, Calif., I struggled with the one-size-fits-all curriculum.” When Hugh’s parents discovered Brehm Preparatory School, they asked Hugh if he would like to visit the campus. “While visiting the campus, I decided it looked interesting,” he said. “It was clear I was part of something new.” When Hugh first came to Brehm, the school had about 24 boarding students and three day students. “What stood out about my Brehm experience was having small class sizes and teachers who took a genuine interest in me,” he said. “Brehm was not the type of place where you could just slip through the cracks. Living at school and learning to study were all meaningful experiences.”

Hugh spent a great deal of time with the Brehm family. “Carol Brehm was always so generous to me. I spent many weekends at Carol’s home. She treated me like part of the family,” he said. “During these weekends, Tyson, myself, and a couple of others would go hunting, target shooting and ATV riding. Carol understood why I was going to her school, and she always made me feel comfortable. While at her house, it was OK just to relax and watch a movie or sleep in until noon.” Hugh said he also got to know Stacy Brehm (Rev. Stacy Brehm Tate) during his frequent visits to the Brehm home. “Stacy had an interest in training wild animals,” Hugh said. “I will never forget the time that she and Tyson left me alone in her truck with a mountain lion (cougar cub) while they went into a store for some quick shopping.” After graduating from Brehm in 1984, Hugh moved back to California to be closer to the ocean and friends.

The small class sizes at Brehm allowed Hugh’s teachers to get to know him and his needs. “I remember appreciating the fact that I could get to know my teachers as real people and role models,” he said. “I am quite fortunate to have been a part of a very supportive learning community that respected me as an individual. I got an honest foundation in science, writing and math that was essential to my future endeavors.” Brehm helped Hugh develop solid groundwork in many academic subjects.

“I first attended California State University, Long Beach for a year and then transferred to Sonoma State University where I studied geography and biology,” he said. “During my summers, I worked for a camp just outside of Yosemite National Park where I was a camp counselor, ropes course leader, and backpacking leader.”

“I developed a strong foundation in math because the program placed me where I belonged and kept building my skills from there,” he said. “My

After earning a bachelor’s degree, Hugh worked in the field of outdoor environmental education at Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School


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Alumni Call to Action! JOIN THE BREHM ALUMNI ASSOCIATION Once a Brehmmie, always a Brehmmie! Being a Brehm Preparatory School alumnus is not only a title that you can wear proudly, it’s also a rich source of inspiration and instruction for living a purpose-driven life. Brehm’s mission is to empower students with complex learning disabilities and differences to recognize and optimize their potential throughout their lifetimes. Brehm has a rich history of success, which is further enriched by the success stories of so many of its alumni. Brehm also serves as an example for its alumni, inspiring all who have benefitted by its mission to pay it forward, to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of those they know. It is in that way that Brehm’s mission becomes so much larger than the sum of its alumni, multiplied by the efforts of all who have been taught and inspired by Brehm’s dedicated staff.


S a k o l s

Photos above by Hugh Sakols

located north of Santa Cruz. He then worked for Yosemite Institute where he met his future wife, Mara. After earning his master’s degree in botany from Idaho State University, Hugh and Mara returned to the Yosemite Institute in 1999. “I realized that I had missed working with kids in the outdoors,” he said. In 2000, Hugh was offered a long-term substitute position at Yosemite Park High School in El Portal, Calif. He accepted the position and still holds it today, teaching fifth and sixth grade students. Mara is a mentor teacher for Nature Bridge (formally known as Yosemite Institute).

So, if you’re a Brehm alumnus, carry that title proudly and pay it forward. Advocate for change. Educate others about learning disabilities. Make a difference in the lives you come in contact with. Promote your alma mater and your fellow alumni. Empower others.

Hugh is also passionate about photography. While living in Idaho and conducting fieldwork in Yellowstone, Hugh was drawn to the natural landscape as a subject of photography. Hugh’s photography has been displayed at the Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite Renaissance, El Portal Art on the River, Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Conservancy and Nature Bridge.

There are more than 7 billion people in this world, and there are only 500 Brehm alumni, but those 500 alumni come from every corner of the Earth and from all walks of life. They have a wide variety of occupations, vocations and interests. Yet, despite their differences, they have a tie that binds them all together – they are all Brehmmies!

He brought several prints to display at the Spring Parent and Family Weekend events on April 6-7. He was also given the Making A Difference Award, presented to alumni who strive to make a difference through their work after leaving Brehm Preparatory School. <>

Brehm Assistant Dean of Student Life Aaron Lee and Brehm alum James Siakam who plays for Vanderbilt University basketball.


The Brehm Alumni Association is dedicated to supporting its alumni by not only keeping the lines of communication open between the alumni and the school, but also between alumni. The Brehm Alumni Association wants to keep the alumni connected by telling their stories, celebrating their accomplishments, coordinating alumni reunions and much more.

The 30-year strong tradition of Brehm Preparatory School continues each year on the Carbondale campus, but it also stretches across the globe through its alumni, who will forever be connected to the school through their irreplaceable Brehm experiences. Join the Brehm Alumni Association today to keep that tradition alive and to help keep the lines of communication open. Help us celebrate our alumni!

OPTIONS student David Zubata OPTIONS Transitions to Independence student David Zubata has completed OPTIONS, graduated from John A. Logan College with an Associate of Arts degree this month, and has been accepted at Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Art and Design for Communication Design.<>

To join the Brehm Alumni Association, visit or send an e-mail to Dalus Downs, Brehm Coordinator of Communications, at and let her know 1) your name, 2) year of graduation or last year attended, 3) your current address and 4) phone number.


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Our 30th Anniversary Spring Family/Alumni Weekend Celebratio

OPTIONS families, alumni and staff connect in the Tasting good times and food with family members in Walkerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bluff F


F) Russell Williams (Brehm School Foundation Director) and Fred lyric soprano Jessica Medoffâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wonderful voice. H) Students

Brown gives Travis R. the 2012-2013 Carey Marie Walsh M Saturday, April 6th. J) Dr. Collins gives out alumni awards.

with students and staff modeling her work. L) Rev. Stacy Bre

founding Brehm 30 years ago. M) Students, family, alumni a

N) One of the largest gatherings of alumni in Brehm and OP H




n was fantastic fun for all on April 5th and 6th. A) Brehm and

g Room at Walker’s Bluff, Friday, April 5th. B & C) Students share Processing Room. D & E) Walker’s Bluff unique Wine Cave. Chapekis, Brehm School parent. G) Everyone is entertained by

6 photos on right side by Jonathan Cohen



and family members dance to the DJ’s music and lights. I) Dr.

Memorial Scholarship award at Brehm’s Student Activity Center, K) Brehm alumna Tessa Koller puts on a great runway show

ehm Tate gives thanks on stage to her mother, Carol Brehm, for

and staff enjoy all the events on stage as well as the great dinner.

PTIONS history! N

I M P A C T: B r e h m & O P T I O N S N e w s Dear Friends, On behalf of the Foundation Board, we are pleased to invite all families and friends to join us in making a special 30th Anniversary gift to support all of the work done by the outstanding faculty, staff and administration of Brehm and OPTIONS. This Anniversary is a particularly fitting time to reflect on the many life-changing contributions made by the people of Brehm and OPTIONS to all of our children and families. As Dr. Collins passes the torch of senior leadership of the institution as a whole to Dr. Brown and moves into full concentration on the new Institute, what a great time to say a hearty "Well done" to Rich Collins and an enthusiastic "We are with you" to Brian Brown! We have so much to be thankful for, knowing that the very special students at Brehm and OPTIONS are receiving the best available support and instruction in a safe, healthy and constructive environment. We know that due to their complex learning challenges, these young people are so often at risk in the well-meaning, but often ill-equipped, world of public education. Brehm and OPTIONS bring to our students

and families the best knowledge, the best technologies, the best talent and the greatest hearts available for these wonderful kids and young adults.The Gibbs and Wielansky families have joined together to make special, tax-deductible 30th Anniversary gifts to the Foundation, and we invite you to join us. Please reflect upon the contributions made by Brehm and OPTIONS in the lives of your children or children you've seen benefit from these outstanding programs, and join us in supporting this important effort. Sincerely,

David Gibbs

Craig Wielansky

Brehm/OPTIONS Parent Foundation Board Director

Brehm Alumni Parent Foundation Board Vice-President

P.S. We want to extend a sincere "thank you" to those who have given during our 30th Anniversary year! You are making an extraordinary impact on the lives of our students! P.P.S. We’ve just received an anonymous $100,000 matching pledge specifically for student financial aid! The pledge will match contributions by others, dollar for dollar, for financial aid and scholarships up to a maximum of $ 100,000. Giving to this worthy cause will DOUBLE its impact on Brehm and OPTIONS families!

To discuss how you can give please contact Russell Williams, your Brehm School Foundation Director, at (618) 457-0371 or or see page 6 for easy ways to contribute.

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Dr. Brian Brown: New Brehm Executive Director Note that in this interview, Dr. Brown refers to Dr. Collins as "Rich." It is clear that there are decades of deep respect and friendship between the two, as “the torch is passed” from one to the other on 7.1.2013.

What events caused you to get involved in working with students who have complex learning disabilities?

Who are your role models, and why?

Dr. Brown: It was more happenstance than thought out. I always knew at a very early age that I wanted to be in the helping profession. I couldn't have told you, though, that when I was going through my academic career that I'd be working with kids with learning disabilities, ADHD and other related issues for 25 years. It was really circumstances of exposure and experience with the Brehm student population. During my internship as a grad student, I had the opportunity to be here for a semester when I was working on my Masters in Social Work. I really enjoyed the students, but due to budget issues, the person who supervised me had to be let go mid-semester. So I went on and did work at Jackson County Mental Health to finish up my grad requirements. But I always thought, Boy, if there was something that came open at Brehm, I'd like to go back and work with the students there." I went on and started my coursework for my PhD, and a couple of years later, the Director of Boarding Services, a supervisor position, opened up. I applied, and I was fortunate enough to get it. I've been here ever since. Rich came after my first year, and I began to work closely with Rich and Char Reed as I supervised the residential, social, emotional and medical management sides.

If we're sitting here five years from now celebrating what you’ve accomplished in this role, what did you achieve with your staff? Dr. Brown: I achieved empowering the staff in their ability to impact and help students grow socially, emotionally and academically. That's really what my role is. I'm the facilitator in that process - in putting people in the position to realize their full potential. I want to be successful with providing people with what they need to do what they do best.

Dr. Brown: I've had three mentors in my life. My dad, who was in the helping profession with a PhD in On a warm morning in May, after a hot breakfast is delivered to Educational the dorms from the main kitchen and before the first class, students Psychology in talk with Dr. Brown as he awaits his daily staff meeting. counseling, told me as a little boy, about 12 years old, "Brian, if you really listen to people, they will tell you everything." The point of that was that it's not just the words, but actions, observation and meanings of what they say tell the whole story. My dad and how he sees the dynamics of interactions and relationships taught me a great deal. I share his sense of humor, but perhaps I'm not as funny as he is. The importance of the role of humor in life and in work and play can really help people grow. I got that from my dad. I had the opportunity to work with my mom for 20 years. She helped me appreciate the holistic nature of people. When Rich came to Brehm, we talked about the holistic (academic, social and emotional) nature of our program and of our students. My mom taught me a great deal of how that plays out for individuals and their life and the need for the healthy well-being part of your life to be attended to. She continued on page 6

The Brehm School Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, ensures the continuing advancement and mission of Brehm School and OPTIONS. IMPACT is a publication of The Brehm School Foundation.

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Please share an interesting experience you had with a student.

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Dr. Brown: We all can get overwhelmed with our feelings, and kids with

Dr. Brian Brown:

learning disabilities can have even a tougher time. Too often with strong feelings, the ability to most effectively communicate is often reduced and we can end up in nonproductive territory. One of the important tools we teach our students is to learn and internalize the communication model, “I Feel ______, Because ________, I Want ______.” This one young man that I had worked with for a while had a difficulty with this model. He would respond to prompts but could not self-initiate the use of the model. One day, he came rushing up, and he was very upset about something. Then, he walked right through the model and used it. And instead of responding to his issue, I gave him a hug and said, "Do you know what you just did?" and he said, "No, what did I do?" I replied, “You used the communication model!" It was really neat to see how satisfied and pleased he was as he didn't realize that it had been internalized. Those special moments in time happen all the time in various ways, and that is why I love working with our kids.

New Brehm Executive Director taught me a great deal about the role of psychiatry and psychology in working with kids – how for some of our kids, getting the medication support piece right, is like a prerequisite for them to be available and benefit from everything else we offer at Brehm.

Rich is another mentor. He taught me a lot about conceptualizing and visioning the work I do here. Rich and I used to spend what free time we had, when he first came, talking about this notion of a holistic model and working with kids with learning disabilities. We talked about what that looked like and the various facets of approaching and assessing each of those areas. About 20 years ago, Rich and I were sitting on the back stoop of one of the buildings watching What new initiative might the kids, and I said some you bring to the executive things that I guess crystallized. director position? Rich looked at me and said, "I think you've got it!" (laughs) Dr. Brown: You know, it's funny We both laughed, and I said, because one of the kids several "If it took me two and a half weeks ago, while staff and stuyears of this kind of processdents were all meeting, asked, ing, how are we going to get "what are you going to everyone on the same page?" change?" And, I jokingly said, Rich has been key in my "Everything." (we laugh) But that understanding of the field and is who we are as an organizathe three parts of what we do tion. If you are not evolving to help kids grow. He's been and growing and changing to a real partner and confidante. meet the demands and needs (l-r) Rev. Stacy Brehm Tate (President of Brehm Board of Trustees and daughter of Carol Brehm, and respond to the technology the founder of Brehm School), Dr. Brian Brown and Dr, Collins (For convenience, this interview at the Brehm 30th reception at Walker’s Bluff. and research, your not moving was recorded in Dr. Collins’ office. forward as an organization. Dr. Collins stepped into the room, and there was an interesting mix of playful banter You’re stagnating, and you run the risk of jeopardizing your business. And I about the recorder running for the interview and the serious business of confirming contact don't know that this is necessarily new because that is who we are. So I'm with a parent who had just reached out to Brehm.) going to continue being who we are and look at what we need to do to meet the needs of our students. Change is an inevitable part of that. So What did you want to be when you were a child? there is not one single initiative, but there will be change and evolution. It will be driven by what works with helping students grow. Dr. Brown: I wanted to be an astronaut. As a little boy playing astronaut, I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. That was cool. Before I Do you have any closing thoughts? die, one of my hopes is to be able to go into space. It's probably twenty years out since it's still a little expensive…(Dr. Collins interjects, "and they Dr. Brown: I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead with the support will bring out the big liability insurance…like when I had a motorcycle, they joked that I know I'm going to receive from the faculty, staff, Board of Trustees that I was worth more dead than alive.") and parents. It's an exciting time to be at Brehm with some of the upcoming developments and programs such as the Brehm Institute for Cognitive and How do you think your leadership style might be different Instructional Development with Greplytix (our customizable database that than Dr. Collins? measures comprehensive outcomes to create a life plan for students, schools and programs across the world, which countless students will benefit from), as well as implementing Dr. Brown: I'm a tyrant. (Dr. Brown says this with a straight face, and pioneering research to create new neural pathways for students and our we all enjoy a good laugh.) brand new summer program. I am deeply appreciative to be part of a program that looks to continuously improve and grow to meet the Seriously, my management style is that I build toward consensus, and yet, at needs of our students and families. the end of the day, I have to take in all the relevant information and data and then make decisions that are in the best interest of the school. Rich The brehm/OPTIONS 2012-13 Annual Giving talks about how the buck stops with him, and ultimately, the buck will stop Campaign ends Sunday, June 30, 2013 with me as well. I think I'm a good listener, and I think that is key. It goes back to what my dad said when I was a little boy. I have a good ability to There are several easy ways to make a 100% tax deductible be objective in how I assess and look at important decisions. I will also be (designated or undesignated) contribution to the Foundation: demanding of people to perform, more direct than people might expect, but we all need to be accountable for our performances. 1. Online via Credit Card, safe and secure online at or What are some of your greatest challenges in your new role? 2. Credit Card by phone by calling us at 618.457.0371 3. Send a check via US Mail to Brehm School Foundation, Dr. Brown: One of them is stepping away from my daily immersion into 1245 E. Grand Ave. Carbondale, IL 62901 postmarked by direct service with students and staff day in and day out. So I will be pulling Sunday, June 30, 2013 away from doing that and allowing others to take on those roles. I will still 4. Phone/email Russell Williams at 618.457.0371 have direct contact but less of it as the management of the school will be or for guidance on any donation. my primary responsibility. That will be an interesting challenge for me. Annual Giving goes to support student scholarships, student programs, staff development, and campus improvements. Rich has been the national face of Brehm. He will transition into his role here with the Brehm Institute for Cognitive and Instructional Development, but I will need to assert myself in that national/international domain and be the face of Brehm.

The Gift of Education and Independence

Brehm School Foundation | 1245 E. Grand Ave. | Carbondale, IL 62901 | | 618.457.0371 6

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A COMMuniTy PARTneR gifT

The Carey Marie Walsh Memorial Scholarship

Myranda’s Child and Family Foundation Scholarship

“Before Brehm, I would get distracted and get in trouble a lot. I like myself more since I’ve learned strategies to keep me focused, reliable and independent. I’m excited about graduating and attending Isothermal Community College in North Carolina.”

“I’ve only been here for less than a year, and Brehm has already helped me so much with my communication issues and brought me out of my shell. Any day at Brehm is a good day!” – Colton V., recipient of Walker's Bluff Myranda’s Foundation scholarship endowment (philanthropic arm of the Bunch family)

– Travis R., recipient of the Carey Marie Walsh Memorial Scholarship

To learn how you can assist with financial aid and scholarships, or make a memorial gift in the name of your loved one, contact The Brehm School Foundation at 618.457.0371.


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By Craig Wielansky Brehm Alumni Parent and Foundation Board Vice-President I’ll never forget that day. It seems like yesterday. My wife Maureen had checked out every viable option in St. Louis for our son Austin’s high school career, and there were none. We had looked at mainstream and private schools and even considered moving to other cities.

When I dropped Austin off for his sophomore year, my concerns were radically different than the first time. Who was his roommate, and would they get along? How was the Internet access? Was he on track for college? We saw so much progress that we didn’t want to make a mistake.

When my wife first identified Brehm as a possibility, I was in denial. The idea that my buddy, whom I had coached in sports since he was four years old, would move two hours away for four years? Well, it wasn’t going to happen on my watch! And no baseball team? No way.

As Austin returned to Brehm for his junior and then senior year, I had several opportunities to reflect on what Brehm meant to me and my family. I also thought about how a number of Austin’s friends before Brehm, including his best friend, could have used Brehm but couldn’t afford it. I wanted Brehm to be the solution for those who didn’t have the funds. So, with the Brehm School Foundation, we started a big campaign push to fund scholarships. Parents and everyone on the board were passionate about it. For a few years, I headed the Fund Development Committee, during which our targeted amounts increased, as did our fervor. We recognized the need to go outside of Brehm and strengthen our board, and the board is now as strong as it ever has been.

But I have a strong wife who knew what was right for our son. When we dropped Austin off, they said, “Trust us.” All the worst thoughts crossed my mind. What kind of parents were we? What was I setting him up for? When we visited him a few weeks later, he seemed to be very happy, and my fears soon dissipated. He described his new friendships and helpful dorm parents in such a positive light. The teachers were caring, treating my son with respect while also having high expectations of him.

I’m proud to say that my son graduated from Brehm last year with honors and at the top of his class. He now attends Lynn University in Florida where he earned a 3.75 GPA his first semester. We will never forget how Brehm gave our son so much hope and unlocked his real potential.

Before Brehm, we had three interviews with other schools and were told that Austin wasn’t a good fit. The main issues were his tests and his inability to communicate well and not fully comprehend. I felt that they didn’t see his desire to move forward or, more importantly, his heart. Dr. Collins at Brehm also told us in our interview that Austin wasn’t a fit, but unlike the others, he saw my son’s heart and desire and took a chance.

I stay involved with Brehm for many reasons – for Dr. Collins, who, along with other great instructors, made my son what he is today. Words can never repay this man for what he did for my child that day he took a chance. He is my true hero, and we will forever be grateful. For Aaron Lee (Assistant Dean of Student Life) who has become one of my best friends and is like a brother to me. He made my son tougher. He taught him basketball but also a lot about life. For Brad Seimer who mulled over the future of my son as if it were his own child. For Joe Radcliff who will always be a member of our family. He was like a father to Austin. For the great teachers who during the inversion stayed with the ship not knowing what they might face when they returned home. For the dorm parents who were so overworked and so underpaid. They put the students first - before their personal lives. But most importantly for the Austin's, the CJ's, the Jake's, the Abby's, the Ellies, the Hanah's, the Oto's, the Bamba's, the Manny's and the hundreds of children we have hosted for swimming and barbecue for their courteous manners and their everlasting smiles. They are all Brehm and so am I.

In the spring of Austin’s freshman year, I became involved with the Brehm Parent’s Association (BPA). Traveling to Carbondale for the BPA and my son’s basketball games got me acquainted with Brehm. I was pleased to find that for the most part, the students seemed very happy. Eventually, I decided I wanted to give more. I was admitted to the Brehm Board of Trustees in Austin’s sophomore year – a time when the board faced a number of difficult decisions. While I can’t say I agreed with every decision, I was always given the opportunity to express my opinion.


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Brehm:options impact newsletter summer 2013