After completing his student teaching in 1998 – he taught world history to eighth-graders at Brookfield Middle School – Derek Mihalcin entered graduate school and never taught school again.
“From there, started working in the mental health field,” he said. “That’s where I’ve been for over 22 years, now.”
However, education has always been central to the newest member of the Brookfield Board of Education’s professional pursuits.
A psychologist with two education degrees, Mihalcin has a private practice and is founder of Blue Wolf Academy, an online program for people on the autism spectrum or that have other neurodevelopmental disabilities.
“I train teachers, administrators, on different levels from one side of the country to the other,” said Mihalcin, 46, who has two sons in Brookfield schools. “I’ve served on the behavioral board for Trumbull County, board of developmental disabilities. I served on the board in Youngstown State when I was a graduate student. Education’s been a big part of my life.”
Mihalcin, who has coached youth T-ball and soccer, said he goes into schools “a lot” to train teachers and administrators, or to consult.
“Today, I feel schools and mental health, they go to together,” he said.
Mihalcin pledged to be active and “show up” for school activities.
Mihalcin was one of three candidates who submitted applications to serve on the school board. A seat became open when only two people ran for three seats in the November election. David DeJoy and Christine Smoot were the other two hopefuls.
“We had three strong candidates that actually made it a difficult decision,” said board President Sarah Kurpe.
The board appointed Mihalcin Jan. 14.
Mihalcin will serve for two years, at which time the seat will be up for election for a two-year term, said district Treasurer Julie Sloan.