As the school year is coming to a close, and the seniors are having their last few weeks at Bullis, the Bullis community is also losing two familiar faces. Dr. Bryja and Mrs. Chehak will be finishing their time at Bullis with the end of this school year.
Dr. Bryja came to Bullis 11 years ago and has worked with hundreds of Bullis students, families and faculty. Prior to coming to Bullis, Dr. Bryja earned her Bachelor of Science as well as a Master of Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She later continued her education at Ohio University where she graduated with a PHD in college student personnel services.
Informally, we all know her as the woman with a smile who stands outside of the college counseling office in-between every block, but her formal job description consists of far more than that. Dr. Bryja council’s students and their families on every aspect of the college admissions process.
She is also the advance placement coordinator and is an advisor to “the best advisory in the world”, which I am proud to say I am apart of.
I have been fortunate enough to know Dr. Bryja for the past four years and work closely with her for the past two. She has helped myself, and other students for that matter, in more ways than she receives credit for. Just from talking to Dr. Bryja, it is clear that she loves her job and truly enjoys working with the students and it is only a plus that they “keep her young and happy.”
“I am leaving to explore new possibilities at this point in my career. It’s been a very good 11 years but I’d like to see what’s out there. Maybe try something different from education. For most of my career, I’ve been in education so maybe I’d like to try something different.”
After spending more than a decade at Bullis, in ten years, Dr. Bryja sees herself working at an organic farm growing crops and tending to animals or working at Barnes and Noble. Many would be surprised to know that from a young age Bryja grew up gardening with her dad, and has had a garden plot at the Bullis community garden.
“My youngest memories have to do with working alongside my father in our family garden.” If she had animals the only animal would be chickens and maybe sheep, no cows or horses. “A farm where I could plot it out so community members could purchase a small section to grow their own vegetables.” “In terms of living I am open to a lot of places in the US, I would think I would have to live in an area with a long growing season.” “My dream is to live in Colorado”
Dr. Bryja says she will miss the students and her colleagues most. Those who know her well would know that she spends quite a lot of time with Mrs. Kittel.
“We have worked together for nine years but I have known her for ten years”, said Bryja.
“We met when she came to visit Bullis as the admissions representative for Ohio Wesleyan University. Mrs. Kittel has a very easygoing personality and after we got through the initial month or so of working as a team, I think we hit it off right away, we’ve been together for nine years.” She paused for a moment to laugh at how they sound like a married couple.
“We build on each others strengths and we build upon those while working as a team with the help of Mrs. Lymon because she is an integral piece. There are days when we come to school dressed alike. In the fall, there are many days when we don’t have enough time to stop and talk so we will catch up in the evening.”
Mrs. Kittel says she most definitely knows they will keep in touch. “She always wanted a bed and breakfast and she would have her own garden and picked vegetables. Mrs. Gray would be in charge of arts and crafts, and I would have the gift shop in the bed and breakfast”.
Dr. Bryja plans to keep in touch with her colleagues. What ever the future may hold for Dr. Bryja, there is no denying that the Bullis community will greatly miss her presence and the impact she has made on the lives of hundreds of students and families.
Not only is the Bullis community losing one of our college counselors, but also our assistant principal for academics, Mrs. Chehak.
Mrs. Chehak started working at Bullis as an English teacher in the fall of 2005. Prior to coming to Bullis, Mrs. Chehak received her undergraduate degree at NYU with a major in English and writing. Before attending Grad School, Mrs. Chehak worked in the Peace Corps.
Before joining the Peace Corps Mrs. Chehak spent eight weeks of training in Bulgaria where she learned about the culture, history and most importantly the language. While in Bulgaria, she lived with a family and went to school for eight hours a day in an intense language boot camp.
When in the Peace Corps, Mrs. Chehak spent two years teaching English in a foreign language school in Smolyan Bulgaria. While there, she not only taught English, but she, “Wrote grants for the school, including one for a cyber café, and helped renovate the library.”
After returning to the States, Mrs. Chehak spent five years working in publishing in New York City.
She then went on to attend graduate school at Georgetown University where she received her degree in English and the teaching of writing.
After finishing grad school, Mrs. Chehak came to Bullis and worked as a teacher, then Department Chair, then Academic Dean and now Assistant Principal.
After working for ten years at Bullis, Mrs. Chehak is leaving because, “this is an opportunity for her to be a division director, like Mr. Delinsky and now Mr. Pollicino and having worked side by side with them, she jumped at the chance to try it herself.”
Starting in the fall, Mrs. Chehak will be the head of the middle school at the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Chehak says she will greatly miss many aspects of Bullis. She commented, “The first thing that comes to mind is my colleagues, there are some really really amazing faculty and staff here, and they have become my friends after being here for ten years. They’ve been through a lot with me; I’ve had both of my kids while being here. I feel like students are students, and I love working with them, but Bullis kids are really funny and happy overall, so it’s a good bunch to work with.”
Mrs. Chehak hopes to continue working in school administration. The Bullis community wishes Mrs. Chehak and Dr. Bryja the best in the years to come.