The Paw Print

Teacher Feature: Ms. Brown

George Beatty, Staff Writer

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Q: How did you know that you wanted to become a history teacher?

A: “I did not know I wanted to be a history teacher. My mom and I actually had this conversation yesterday. I had already applied to graduate school and had been accepted… to go study health and gerontology – working with older population – and I got cold feet, so I decided to substitute teach for a semester while I figured it out and I ended up substitute teaching at a school that needed a volleyball coach and so they said “what can you teach?”, and they looked at my transcript and they said “oh, you can teach social studies. So that’s how I got my job and then I ended up loving it and I had a minor in history that was one of the reasons I went in to teach history. I loved history growing up.”

Q: Where have you worked as a teacher?

A: “I taught in Shawnee Mission. I taught middle school history at TrailRidge and Indianhills, and then I was hired to be the social studies curriculum director for Shawnee Mission. That’s where I’ve taught as far as public school and then of course here the last three years. I’ve also taught classes for Baker University.”

Q: What do you find to be the most difficult part of being a teacher?

A: “I think holding myself accountable and trying to come up with things that aren’t just -although I’m guilty of it sometimes- but trying to come up with things that are engaging that connects with [students]. That is the most difficult [part], and to try to make really meaningful lessons and assignments. That’s really hard, especially when you’re sometimes in a time crunch to get through material. Also, you have 20 kids in a room and you’re trying to teach so that you make a connection to each one of those kids because [some students] pick up stuff really well by reading and listening [but] other kids have to do it and see it. So you have to try and work all that in.”

Q: What do you feel like you’ve learned from being a teacher?

A: “I think the thing I’ve learned most is to always be prepared for the unexpected because you might think ‘this is going to be the best lesson ever’ and then it doesn’t always go the way you think it’s going to go. Also, never make the students fit the lesson, the lesson should fit the students. One thing I still need to work on every single day is always [coming] in with a fresh mind and a lot of patience.”

Q: Why do you think we should study history?

A: “Obviously history repeats itself. A very famous individual said ‘if we don’t learn history we are doomed to repeat it’. Those are all nice but I think if we don’t know history we can’t appreciate some of the struggles people had to go through to be able to see where we are today, unless it’s really happening to us, it’s really hard to make it connect.”

Q: You used to work for the Library of Congress, what did you do for them?

A: “I was a consultant for the Library of Congress. I did some grant work with them and then they have asked me to consult a couple of times from an educator’s view.”

Q: How did you come to work with them?

A: “When I was working with Shawnee Mission there was an opportunity to apply for some money to train teachers, and it was a grant through the Library of Congress. I applied for the grant. I got the grant for them. I got two of them and they liked the work we had done so much they wanted to have me work with other school districts and also come do some round table discussion. So, I got to go to Washington several times to do that.”

Q: Why did you stop working with the Library of Congress?

A: “It was time consuming, and this year in particular I had been gone so much with tennis. I would have been gone for a week. Partially, I was just stressing out about the presentation I was going to have to make and leaving [my classes].”

Q: Why did you leave Shawnee Mission to work at KCC?

A: “Sometimes you need a change. I had a new superintendent, a new director, a new associate superintendent, lots of different leadership. They were doing some restructuring at the administrative level. The main reason was I felt it was time for a change, to do something different. My job wasn’t quite as fun as it used to be. I loved the teachers I worked with. I absolutely miss them all the time, but I needed to do something different. They offered a retirement incentive in Shawnee Mission, which was hard to pass up. I talked to my daughter I said ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know God will open a door and obviously he did.”

Q: What do you want students to know about you?

A: “I hope students know that I genuinely care about them more than I really care whether they learn world history or if they get an “A” on a test that I really care about. Who they are and where they’re going and what they’re going to be to me is the most important thing, the relationships too. I want [students] to remember that they liked being in my class most of the time, more often than not, and that I can have good days and bad days just like you guys. I’m approachable. And again, I think the biggest thing is that I care about where you guys are headed more than anything.”

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