Montgomery College alumna Judy Brubaker takes a friendly dig at her husband, David, also a College alum, as she waits on the telephone to ask him to confirm a detail she wanted to make sure was accurate. The comment, more an affectionate poke than a hurtful jibe, reflects a relationship of more than 30 years that has bonded the husband-wife team both personally and professionally and has kept them on somewhat parallel paths since they began hanging out with each other at Rockville High School.
In addition to both attending Montgomery College, they both graduated from Frostburg with teacher’s certificates; they both were hired to teach in the county’s public school system on the same day; and they both now serve as principals and educational leaders within the public school system.
As is often the case in their relationship, when one or the other needs something there is no hesitation about whom to call. So when the name of a particular person in their past was not coming to mind, Judy Brubaker picked up the phone.
“He will know this because he has got that It’s-Academic kind of mind for trivia and detail,” the energetic 47-year-old says, and then adds, with only a hint of a mischievous twinkle in her hazel eyes, “He thinks he knows everything.”
This past fall the Gaithersburg couple added another remarkable parallel accomplishment to their seemingly interlocked destinies: they both opened schools that they were instrumental in guiding through the design and construction process. In September, Judy Brubaker opened Spark Matsunaga Elementary School in Germantown, which is also home to the county’s educational program of the severely physically handicapped students. David Brubaker welcomed students back to Earle B.Wood Middle School after a two-year renovation project that modernized the Rockville school.
In separate interviews at their respective schools, the pair, who have been married for 27 years and have two children, Matt, 20, and Caitlin, 14, spoke about influences in their lives and the importance that individual teachers and counselors have had in their careers. They both credit their experiences at Montgomery College with shaping and nurturing their ambitions in life and with giving them both a successful collegiate experience.
A tall but not imposing man with a firm grip and a no-nonsense look in his blue eyes, David Brubaker, 47, exudes the firmness and assurance of someone in charge of nearly 1,000 pubescent adolescents, who are transitioning both academically and emotionally and need a steady hand occasionally.
At the beginning of his academic career, he had ambitions to pursue a career in law, but over time that ambition changed, a process that he acknowledges may have been nurtured by experiences of learning he had at Montgomery College.
was always in the back of my mind,” he said sitting
in his new, freshly painted but sparsely decorated office overlooking
one of the quads of the Rockville middle school. “The positive
experience I had at MC firmed up in my mind the decision to go into teaching.”
Unlike her husband, Judy Brubaker always knew she wanted to be a teacher, even to the point of turning the basement of her childhood home into a classroom. However, her ambition seemed more a childhood fantasy than an actual possibility, as she prepared for her life after high school.
“I was not slated to go to college,” she says matter-of-factly, after a whirlwind tour of the airy, multilevel elementary school for which she is currently responsible. “No one in my family had ever gone.”
All that changed when a Rockville High School career counselor, Jan McCall, insisted she seriously consider going to Montgomery College, and nominated her for a state scholarship program to help defray a portion of the costs.
“It was where my fascination for science was sparked,” says the energetic 47-year-old, as she recalls how classes in biology and geology opened up whole new worlds to her. “I had a great experience.”
The couple also cite the experience of their son, Matt, who spent a year at the College’s Germantown Campus before transferring to Virginia Tech, as an example of the successful experience Montgomery College still provides.
“We are both big fans of Montgomery College,” says Judy Brubaker. “We both feel that we wouldn’t be where we are today without having had the experiences we did there.”