Retired teacher shares her collections

December 15, 2018

Retired elementary school teacher Kathy Brenner was looking for ways to continue her passion for education when she started collecting an assortment of items.

Growing up, Brenner said she knew she wanted to be a teacher. Because of this, in fourth grade she started collecting items that she thought she would be able to use in her classroom down the road.

“I am very much a hands-on person, therefore, providing my students with items that would spark their interests … And that was very important for me,” said Brenner, who retired 20 years ago from St. Bonaventure Elementary School.

Her collections have grown tremendously over the years, totaling up to around 25 different sets that Brenner refers to as her mini-museums. From Snoopy Christmas edition to Planters Peanut and children’s books, Brenner has collections suitable for many occasions.

Among her different collections, Brenner’s Crayola Crayons and Dr. Suess sets are the biggest.

Rather than keeping her collections to herself, Brenner strives to share her items with youth and highlight their history. Her mini-museums can be seen displayed throughout the community in St. Bonaventure, Lost Creek and North Park elementary schools, as well as the Columbus Public Library.

“Just to educate people a little more and it’s just a quick stop as you walk by,” Brenner said. “It might spark somebody’s interest.”

Brenner also plans to share her children’s storybook collection with her neighborhood youth, who are working toward being elementary teachers. She hopes the books can help jump-start their classroom libraries.

Brenner, who has a knack for design, started displaying her collections at St. Bonaventure Elementary. From there, news traveled to several other schools with teachers looking for ideas to fill empty display cases.

Brenner’s Snoopy Christmas collection is currently on display at the library, 2504 14th St. It has caught the attention of many, including Kelli Keyes, customer service manager at Columbus Public Library. Keyes described the collection as, “very cute!”

Brenner hopes to bring back people’s fond memories of their childhoods, in addition to igniting their children’s curiosity.

“It makes their hearts warm,” Brenner said.

Brenner gathers most of her items from antique stores and flea markets when she takes trips to visit relatives. Brenner said her 8-year-old granddaughter’s favorite activity with her grandparents is visiting flea markets. During these trips, Brenner takes the opportunity to share her childhood with her granddaughter.

“I am glad I can share that with her and she can continue on with that love,” Brenner said.

Before bringing her displays to life, Brenner said she always visualizes how she wants them to look in her head. She said it typically takes about two hours to put a display together.

Brenner said she already has several ideas in mind for February and Halloween.

For February, Brenner said she plans to have a display about hearts, health and history. On Halloween, Brenner said she hopes to have a display of bones and other objects.

“It has just allowed me to stay connected to a profession I thoroughly loved,” she said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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