Brianna Ware at desk with Buffalo State alumni banner

Teacher Appreciation Week: Q&A with Alumna Brianna Ware


Brianna Ware, ’16, ’21, never thought she would become a teacher. She was studying to be a guidance counselor when she shadowed a kindergarten classroom teacher and found herself thinking, “Oh my goodness—this is amazing! I cannot believe people get paid to do this!” From that moment on, she knew a career in education was for her.

Ware is a Buffalo State University double alumna; she earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and a master’s from the literacy specialist program. Now, driven by her passion for educational reform, Ware is back at Buffalo State studying educational leadership while simultaneously influencing students as the dean of students at Cleveland Hill Middle School and High School in Cheektowaga, New York.

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, Ware allowed us to visit her onsite and answered some questions about her Buffalo State experience and her career in education.

How did you know teaching was the right fit for you?

While shadowing in a kindergarten classroom, I fell in love with teaching because I wanted to make a difference in the next generation. I switched my major and attended Buffalo State. 

Why did you choose Buffalo State? 

It’s known as the teaching college, so that’s where you go to become a teacher! Buffalo State has lots of great resources for teachers, as well as connections and networking opportunities, even for alumni.

Tell us about a career-defining moment.

Buffalo State had a program where you could go to Houston to student teach for a semester—usually, a job offer followed—and I took the opportunity to go. [At the same time], one of my close friends was heading to Rwanda [with the Anne Frank Project] for an incredible teaching opportunity. In Houston, I was placed in an ENL—English as a new language—classroom. There was a little girl who was there for a few weeks, but rarely spoke. When she did, the teachers could not understand the language—they just knew where she was from, which happened to be Rwanda. I called my friend. Between us, we figured out what language the girl spoke, and I was able to use a translating system to communicate in her language. Her face just lit up! It was amazing to know I was able to help her communicate. 

What class outside of your education major provided a perspective critical for you as a teacher?

I took a history class that was beneficial because the professor pointed out one of my greatest weaknesses—writing. Because of that, I went to ask for help with my writing skills and have since improved. Communication is key. I have to communicate with stakeholders—it’s a necessary part of life. I am grateful my professor gave me constructive criticism, so I was able to grow.

Why should people go into teaching?

We need good people to continue the work of making a difference in the lives of our youth. It’s a hard job, but it’s worth it and so rewarding.

What advice do you have for new teachers?

You don’t have to be perfect; just keep trying and always be open to feedback. Just go for it!

Photo by Jesse Steffan-Colucci, Buffalo State photographer.