January 25, 2021

Baxter teacher earns Shakespeare trip of a lifetime

Cassie Applegate-Brummel loves Shakespeare. She teaches a Shakespeare play every year in her Baxter High School English class.

So when she was chosen for a three-week once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Folger Shakespeare Library that was postponed because of COVID-19, Applegate-Brummel was devastated.

"I didn't even tell my husband I applied for the program," Applegate-Brummel said. "I didn't think I was going to get it so I didn't tell very many people. I finally told my husband when I found out the program was postponed until next summer."

There's a chance Applegate-Brummel can still attend the program in Washington, D.C., in 2021. She was told she may have to go through the application process again though.

"I really hope it works out for me next summer," said Applegate-Brummel, who has been a teacher at Baxter for seven years.

Applegate-Brummel was one of 25 teachers in the United States chosen for the program at Folger Shakespeare Library. If she ends up going next summer, it will enhance her ability to teach Shakespeare in the classroom moving forward.

Baxter Principal Rob Luther already knew she was a good teacher. But this trip could be the professional experience of her lifetime.

"She's an outstanding English teacher," Luther said. "She's well thought of in our circle. She has won teacher of the year multiple times and has really good relationships with our kids."

Applegate-Brummel said the application process included a resume that also was comprised of five or six short-answer questions.

She also needed recommendation letters from another teacher and a student.

The decision on whether or not Applegate-Brummel was selected was supposed to come March 27. But she received an email before that, telling her of the postponement.

Baxter senior Maya Phelps was the student who wrote a letter of recommendation for Applegate-Brummel. The two have formed a strong relationship the past five years.

Applegate-Brummel said Phelps was the perfect choice for a recommendation because she has seen her ins and outs as a teacher.

"Ms. Applegate is a special teacher because she not only strives to help her students be academically successful, but she's also always pushing herself to be even better in the classroom by trying new techniques and lessons for our benefit," Phelps said. "I wrote her a recommendation letter because her hard work and dedication needs to be recognized and rewarded. She has impacted me as a student and person instrumentally throughout my high school career and I know all of my peers feel the same."

The professional recommendation letter came from Baxter Instructional Coach Dennis Vaughn. Applegate-Brummel said she looks up to Vaughn as an educator.

"She sets the highest standards of rigor for her students and plans assiduously for their success," Vaughn said. "As a professional and a peer, I appreciate the opportunities to receive feedback from her which helps me grow."

Vaughn is an instructional coach on the secondary level. As Applegate-Brummel's coach, he has been impressed with her growth mindset and her unyielding desire to continually strive for improvement.

"Her rare insight on how to assist struggling learners while also challenging students who quickly demonstrate mastery elevates her to a meritorious level among educators," Vaughn said. "Mrs. Applegate-Brummel would be an asset to any school or professional collaborative team, and most importantly, any student or teacher would benefit from her insight, determination and passion."

The Folger Shakespeare Library is the world's largest Shakespeare collection, the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world.

In addition to being the world's largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is home to major collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts and works of art. Located a block from the U.S. Capitol, the Folger serves a wide audience of scholars, visitors, teachers, students, families and theater- and concert-goers.

The program Applegate-Brummel will be involved with next summer is "Shakespeare and the Making of America."

"The program looks at how Shakespeare's work shapes America," Applegate-Brummel said. "It talks a lot about racial tensions and how we deal with that on a daily basis."

Applegate-Brummel, who also is the school's football cheerleading coach and Yearbook sponsor, said she will be given a stipend that pays for the experience in Washington, D.C. The only thing not covered is airfare.

The 25 teachers chosen for the program can stay in the dorms at the College of William and Mary for the duration of the three weeks.

Contact Troy Hyde at 641-792-3121 ext. 6536 or thyde@newtondailynews.com