A foundation to build on: UMSL education, love story lead the Weavers to success

by | Jun 18, 2017

Alice sold Brian his textbooks in the campus bookstore in 1990. Their degrees prepared them for fruitful careers and inspired their children to become Tritons too.
Brian, Alice, Joann and Brian Jr. Weaver

Brian Weaver (at left) met his wife Alice (second from left) at the bookstore on campus in 1990, when Alice sold him his school books. Since earning their UMSL degrees, they have gone on to lengthy careers in education, and now both teach in the Jennings School District. Their children, JoAnn and Brian Jr. (BJ), have followed in their footsteps and are UMSL Tritons as well. (Photos by August Jennewein)

In 1978, 13-year-old Brian Weaver used to look across the fence of Normandy Middle School at the neighboring University of Missouri–St. Louis during his lunch hours.

Brian and his friends would run around playing basketball or dodgeball in the parking lot that bumps up against UMSL’s North Campus. At that time, he didn’t think much of it, but ask Brian now, and he’ll tell you he was looking at his future.

“I didn’t realize I would actually go here,” said Brian, who holds two UMSL degrees (BA psychology 1990, MA history 1998). “Matter of fact, the thing that was said a lot of times growing up was that college is expensive.”

Brian and Alice Weaver

Brian and Alice Weaver used to take breaks from classes on these steps outside Clark Hall on North Campus. The couple would sit and look out at the trees and grass, where the Millennium Student Center now stands, and daydream about the future family they would build together.

He spent some time collecting credits at a few community colleges first, but when Brian finally made it on the UMSL side of that fence, he found two things – an education that would lead him to a teaching career and the love of his life.

Alice Weaver, formerly Day, had been living in the city near West Florissant Avenue and Goodfellow Boulevard at the time. She took the bus to UMSL every day as she plugged away at her bachelor’s degree in education.

“At one point in time I wanted to say, ‘I’m going to stop doing this because I don’t have a car. All my friends are driving past me, and I’m waiting for the bus,’” Alice said. “You get tired of that.”

But her mother wouldn’t let her give up on her dreams.

“And I’m glad she didn’t,” said Alice, who might not have met her husband if she hadn’t continued her studies at UMSL.

Alice worked in the bookstore to help pay for her education. She met Brian when she sold him his school books.

“We ended up talking for an hour and a half,” Brian said. “And that’s what did it,” although he didn’t get her number until he called the bookstore looking to ask her out.

Some of their best memories of campus are walking around, holding hands, sitting at Bugg Lake and studying on the third floor of the Thomas Jefferson Library.

Brian, who also had a job to pay for his education, worked at Spiro’s Greek Restaurant, now closed, but formerly on Natural Bridge Road, across the street from campus.

“It was a triangle of responsibility,” he said of going to work, crossing the street for classes and checking in on Alice at the bookstore.

On one occasion, he delivered a letter he wrote her promising to ask her father for her hand in marriage.

“I took it behind the cash register, and I read it,” Alice said. “I was blushing and reading it and excited and hopeful and praying at the time that it would be real and nothing fake.”

They were married Aug. 8, 1992, and are coming up on their 25th wedding anniversary this year.

But other memories of UMSL stand out as well. The Weavers name professor after professor, so thankful for their teaching and guidance. Alice, in particular, remembers all the support she received in the early years before she got into courses for her education major.

“When I did finally get into my major studies – that’s just my passion, that’s what I love – it became easy, but a lot of times, the general courses didn’t come as easy,” Alice said. “It was kind of difficult and they took me by the hand and they opened their doors, especially if I had questions.”

Alice now teaches second grade at Northview Elementary School in the Jennings School District. She calls it “the miracle grade” because that’s when she teaches her students how to read, her absolute passion as an educator. She’s been teaching elementary education for more than 20 years now.

Brian Jr. and Brian Weaver

Like father, like son. BJ (at left) follows his dad’s lead, having fun and being silly while the Weavers experience campus as a family and relive old memories. BJ shares his father’s dream of one day becoming a professor.

Brian has been a teacher for 25 years. He teaches seventh- and eighth-grade social studies at Jennings Junior High School, where he drills his teaching philosophy into the minds of his young students. It’s one he learned at UMSL, too.

“From the great [history] professor Walter Erhlich,” Brian began, “‘Know thy subject matter.’”

Brian’s had a slew of awards for his inspiring teaching. He’s been two-time Teacher of the Year for the Jennings School District, a recipient of The St. Louis American’s Salute to Excellence in Education Award and a recipient of the Milken National Educator Award. Brian one day hopes to become a professor, a lifelong dream of his.

He said it all started right here at UMSL, a university he calls his “old friend.” But it’s a new friend to the Weavers’ two children, JoAnn and Brian Jr. (BJ).

“I watched and listened to their stories over the years and saw that they went to college, they got their careers, and they were happily married for all of these years,” JoAnn said. “It just gave me hope in that I can further my career, further my education. It’s just really inspiring.”

JoAnn graduated from UMSL in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. She works in the digital sales department for Charter Communications and as a freelance blogger.

BJ is heading into his sophomore year at UMSL and has declared an English major and anthropology minor. He, too, wants to become an educator one day, with his eye on academia and a professorship.

“I want to be able to make an impact because there’s a new generation coming up, and they have to be taught how to move in the right direction toward success, set their priorities, take care of their education,” BJ said.

That’s something he feels his parents demonstrated for him in their retelling of their UMSL story and perseverance getting their educations.

“My mother and father, they went to college during a crucial time,” BJ said. “They went to college so that their children could be able to prosper, so that we would have a good life basically. It set a foundation for us to live by.”

Now that foundation continues to pay it forward as the Weavers’ children look toward all the opportunities open to them to build their careers and future families. And who knows, their children just might continue the Triton tradition too.

The UMSL Experience

Marisol Ramirez

Marisol Ramirez

Eye on UMSL: Building blocks

Members of the Spring 2024 graduating class of the University of Missouri–St. Louis play Jenga during the annual New Grad Bash on Thursday.