Longtime careers in teaching run in Jane Brown’s family.
Brown has been a teacher for 29 years. She credits her mom —who taught elementary school for more than 50 years and retired from the profession — for her career choice.
“I watched her and saw what she did, and I wanted to do that, too,” says Brown, who teaches third grade at St. Augustin School in Des Moines. She was inspired by her mother’s stories of kids who couldn’t read or didn’t like school, and made a turnaround.
Her mom, who died in 2005, was her role model and the one she turned to for advice.
“I could always talk to her,” Brown says. “My mom was always one I could go to.”
She remembers how adept her mother was at helping students excel from whatever level they were. She also nurtured their growth as people, whether it was being a good citizen and friend or growing in their faith, says Brown, who tries to do the same for her students today. This is her 28th year at St. Augustin.
“I have high expectations of them in all areas of academics, and as a person,” Brown says. During the years, she’s found that “given the opportunity, they rise to the challenge.”
To make that happen, Brown tries to find a connection with each student, from a love of reading to a favorite sport, and makes that their starting point. She also makes sure that they have fun along the way.
In the time she’s been teaching, one of the biggest changes has been technology. For example, students are using iPads to find information, take tests and play educational games. Students love technology, she says, and are enthusiastic about it.
Kids today are also learning concepts earlier. According to Brown, they’re doing work in third grade that they used to do in fourth or fifth grade.
In addition to academics, respect is very important in her class and is also a central theme at their school, she says. That includes respecting individuals’ wide range of abilities, talents and opinions.
If there’s one lesson students leave with from her class, Brown hopes it’s that “they always gave their best and Mrs. Brown was fair and respectful,” she says.