Mr. Brown is an English Learner (EL) teacher who teaches both English Language Arts and Science. Before coming to APS Mr. Brown taught English at schools in China, Korea, and Bolivia. He first became interested in teaching after college. “I tutored elementary school students in literacy for AmeriCorps in Oakland, CA. I also coached the students’ soccer team after school. I found that I enjoyed working with young people, but I didn’t have any training and sometimes didn’t know how to best help students. I eventually decided to return to school and study education formally so that I could effectively teach young people in public schools.”
We asked Mr. Brown what makes APS special to which he replied, “I like working for APS because the county is filled with innovative, hardworking teachers who support each other through challenges and help each other improve at their jobs. It’s no exaggeration to say that most of what I’ve learned about teaching I’ve learned from other teachers at Key and Swanson, and this process continues.”
As an EL teacher, Mr. Brown’s proudest moments occur when he sees students grow, academically or personally. “Students sometimes arrive with only a few words of English. They may arrive from another country where schools are much different than Swanson. Adjustment to a new school, language, and culture presents a range of social and academic challenges that can at first feel overwhelming. It’s gratifying to support students through this process of adjustment and to see them acquire new skills. It’s not uncommon to see these same students become “experts” who turn around and help the next newcomers, often with deep empathy. It goes without saying that the EL department’s multilingual and multicultural students enrich Swanson, and as they become more comfortable expressing themselves, the whole community benefits from their voices.”
If Mr. Brown had not chosen a career of teaching, he would have followed in his sister’s footsteps. His sister is a wildlife biologist and studies endangered foxes in the Sierras. She splits her time between backpacking in the mountains collecting samples and studying animals’ DNA in the lab.