Meet the Science Department Resource Teacher: Mrs. Wertz!

Abigail Alem, Staff Writer

Get kids ready for school: check. Make sure all classes are covered: check. Prep for biology labs: check. The jack of all trades, Mrs. Brielle Wertz. She is a mother of two, the science department Resource Teacher (RT), and an AP biology teacher here at Paint Branch High School. With a passion for science and a desire to be a teacher, she received her Bachelor of Biology with Secondary Education from Shippensburg University, in Pennsylvania, and her Master of Chemical and Life Sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park. Mrs. Wertz has been teaching for twelve years, six of those at PB, including three of those years teaching AP Biology. 

Mrs. Wertz starts her day off by “running around the building to make sure all science teachers are good for the day, classroom doors are unlocked, substitutes are good, and checking to see if class coverage is needed.” She describes this as  “putting out fires, essentially.” She utilizes her off periods to grade for her classes and meet all her RT responsibilities. The rest of her day is filled with teaching her two double-period AP Biology classes, which is actually a much more extended period when you consider that she opens her room for lunch to allow students to eat and decompress. She notes that “from third period to lunch until sixth period, all the way through, I am in my classroom, filled with students.” 

This being her first year as RT, Mrs. Wertz has faced some new challenges throughout the year. She says that the biggest challenge is “finding a balance between supporting the teachers and my own personal students at the same time.” Adding to her new role this year is a unique teaching schedule that has her teaching two double-period classes. With this schedule and her RT responsibilities, a lack of time has been a problem she has faced throughout the year. “Dealing with time,” she notes, “and being able to do all the things I need to do during the school day”  are tough to manage. 

While there are many tasks Mrs. Wertz has to complete within each of the roles that she plays, she feels that her strengths are showcased.  “I’ve always been a person in a leadership role,” she says, “I truly do love helping and supporting others…so I really do enjoy being able to give back and help other people in a more behind-the-scenes and organizational way.” 

The care that Mrs. Wertz shows for her students is evident, as the most rewarding parts about being an AP teacher are, “seeing connections made by students, seeing students find a passion, and watching the growth of students’ skills and confidence expand.” she notes.

One of Mrs. Wertz’s students, Saron, describes her as “passionate” and “emphatic,” adding that “she always goes above and beyond to help us learn.” Current AP Biology student, Martha, describes how Mrs. Wertz’s teaching become impactful, noting that “…through her engaging labs and interactive review, she ensures that you will always be prepared not just for her class but also for the AP exam.” Her students feel that their well-being and ability to create life skills are a clear priority in her classroom. Martha reflects, “Everything she teaches us has a purpose…if it’s not to help us with biology, then it’s to build a new skill that can help us later on.”  

In the end, Mrs. Wertz hopes she has a lasting impact on all her students to grow as a person and as a student. “I want students to be prepared to take that next step in their life,” she says. Her true goal is that “all my students are prepared for college since this is a college-level course. [As an AP teacher] I am determined to give you those tools to make that possible.”