Skyline High School Office Professional Brodie Brockie graduated from Marshall High School in 1991 and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in 1995. He moved to Ann Arbor in 1999, won a contest to get to perform as a Jungle Cruise Skipper at Disneyland in 2007, and started at Skyline High School in 2012. In addition to his work as an office professional, Brockie directs Skyline Theatre productions. He says he is the proud father of two cats, Puck and Bowie.
Skyline records secretary Katrina Jenkins has worked with Brockie for 13 years and says he’s compassionate, kind, and cares very much about the students. “He’s got a great sense of humor, too,” said Jenkins.
“Brodie is always a friendly face and willing to help,” says Interim Principal Casey Elmore. “He is the face of Skyline as you enter our building. His amazing customer service skills make sure that those who enter Skyline feel welcomed. Brodie also has a love of theater, works with our theater department, and always adds pizazz to the main office with his seasonal and holiday decorating not to mention his Spirit Day costumes.”
Describe an average workday.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had one of those! It seems like every day comes with new surprises. But I do have tasks that I have to do daily – each morning starts with pulling up the list of staff absences for the day. I pull folders for our substitutes and try to find a solution for any absences that haven’t been filled by a sub. Most of the rest of the day is spent responding to whatever comes up – answering questions from students, staff, and parents or connecting them with the best person to assist them. I do have some big seasonal tasks like processing all of our new enrollments, which are coming to a close, and reporting immunizations to the state, which is just around the corner.
Why did you want to work for Ann Arbor Public Schools?
The truth is, I found my way here when I was desperately looking for work. My previous job disappeared with the recession about 12 years ago and with jobs scarce, I was looking for anything decent. I had to take an online test to apply for the office manager position at Skyline and I must’ve done alright since the results were better than all those jobs I’d just been sending resumes and cover letters to. So the truth is, I just got here because I needed a job. But I’ve stayed for almost a dozen years now because once I got here, I realized I wasn’t just in a corporate office job anymore, but had instead become part of a community that would both offer more and ask more of me than any corporate job ever could.
What do you like about working at Skyline specifically?
It’s all about the people. The building is full of dedicated, creative, and inspiring staff members. It’s great to see the impact they have working together for and with our students. Then there are the students themselves—who are endlessly interesting and entertaining. While there are some days it feels like they’re giving me gray hairs, most of the time I think they help keep me young.
Which part of your job is most challenging? What do you like the most?
There are some days when the pace gets overwhelming—when I have one task that’s just going to require a little concentration, but it takes all day because I’m constantly interrupted. That can be a little taxing. My favorite moments are the visits from kids who occasionally stop by the desk for no other reason than to check in and say hello.
You’re known for decorating your office space for Halloween. How did that come about, and what do you have in mind for this year?
I’ve always been a big fan of Halloween and loved going to school dressed up when I was a kid. I like to think one of the unofficial duties I take on is trying to make school feel like a fun and welcoming place in whatever little ways I can, and decorating the office for Halloween has been one of the more visible ways I do that. It seems to have gotten bigger over the years as expectations for it grow. I do have a plan in mind for this year, but I prefer it to be a surprise when it happens. We only have a half day on Halloween this year, so I might need to expand the decorations by a few days.
Talk about your involvement in Skyline Theatre.
I just realized this is my 10th year working with Skyline Theatre! For many years, I assistant-directed our MainStage shows directed by our theatre teacher, Anne-Marie Roberts. In between those Main Stage shows, I would sometimes direct variety shows and one evening of new works. Starting last year, I’m now directing our musicals. We’re just about to open our production of The Pirates of Penzance, and I’m pretty excited about our plans for it. I like the challenge of taking the oldest musical we’ve ever done and tweaking it to connect with a modern audience.
I love working with the kids in our theatre program, and I think I’m much more connected to our student body as a result of that work. Working with theatre makes me a better OP, and being an OP makes me better at directing the students too. It’s honestly one of the great joys of my life.
What’s the happiest part of your day?
It can be different on any day, but it’s always a nice feeling when I’ve had a tiring day at work and kind of just want to head home, but have to head to rehearsal instead, and then once there I have some student interaction or see some inventive performance from one of the kids that just makes me happy that I had to stick around.
What do you want most for your theater students?
That’s a big question. Fulfillment, I suppose. I think a lot of my theatre students think I want them to pursue theatre as a career because I do like to remind them that that is a real possibility. I often tell them that I want them to keep theatre as part of their lives even if they pursue other careers, but I really just want them to be happy doing whatever it is they really want to do.
While they’re here, I hope they feel supported and accepted and free to explore their interests and shape their personalities as they head toward becoming the adults they want to be.
Favorite podcasts, websites, apps:
For years I loved the podcast “Welcome to NightVale,” but I usually only listened while driving. Lately, I kind of enjoy it being quiet instead—or listening to the music from the next show I’m directing.
Your thoughts on the district’s focus this year on dignity, belonging, and well-being?
I think it’s very important. We certainly see a lot of division in society over judging people who are different from ourselves. I almost said “right now,” but honestly, when hasn’t that been the case? I’m always happy that APPS values respecting everyone’s individuality and is placing extra emphasis on our social and emotional health.
How did you like your years in high school, and do those memories impact your interaction with students at all?
I mostly enjoyed my high school years. I wasn’t one of the popular kids, in the sense that we think of the word, but I did have a lot of friends. Then, as it is now, theatre and the arts were my favorite parts of school. Our theatre teacher had a rough couple of years when I was there and we had two years with no shows. No one blamed her, but it was frustrating that the school didn’t find anyone else to fill in until she was ready to direct again. It’s still a little disappointing that I didn’t have more stage experiences with my high school friends, so that reinforces to me how important it is to make sure my students have a rich high school theatre experience.
What do you wish everyone realized about the work of an AAPS office professional?
We care about your students and work to guide them too. I think sometimes in all the well-deserved talk of teacher impact, people forget that everyone in the school is trying to help students. I see my fellow office professionals going above and beyond for students every day.
That, and If you’re not getting us on the phone, it’s not because we’re ignoring you. It’s just because we’re on the phone with the parents of one of the hundreds of other students.
What would surprise people to know about you?
I have two side businesses outside of school. One is Colonel Coconut. My friend and I do tiki and adventure-inspired art, mostly wood carving, and sell it online and at shows. My other one is Hawk’s Designer Droids (designerdroids.etsy.com) through which I sell re-designed, re-painted Star Wars droids in unique styles and pop-culture mashups. On second thought, maybe none of that would surprise anyone, but I got a plug in anyway.