Brown wants her students to believe in themselves
This article is part of a series by The Vicksburg Post, in partnership with the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, featuring each of the nominees for teacher of the year honors.
For more than 20 years, Cassandra Brown has gone to the classroom with one philosophy in mind, “to help children believe they can do anything.”
“As I reflect throughout all my years of teaching … I have always wanted to instill into my students the means of being able to gain the ability to think in a manner that allows them to overcome any future situation by rationalizing the pros vs. the cons using real-life situations,” Brown said. “On the college level and high school level, my focus was integrity and maturity. On the elementary level, the focus is still the same via my wall printed slogan ‘spread kindness like pixie dust’ which I point to often as kids are reminded to reflect on how they have treated or mistreated their classmates.”
Brown, a second-grade teacher at Sherman Avenue Elementary, is one of the educators nominated for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year awards.
The chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon on Feb. 25. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.
Brown’s career has stretched across the education spectrum including time at Alcorn State as an advisor and director for the university’s choir program. Her experience also includes time as an algebra teacher at Vicksburg High School and today as a second-grade teacher at Sherman Avenue.
She received her bachelor’s degree in computer science and applied mathematics and a master’s degree in computer and information services from Alcorn State. She received a master’s degree in elementary education from Alcorn State and a master’s degree in leadership from Grand Canyon University.
In one of the most memorable experiences of her career, Brown writes in her Teacher of the Year application about her interaction with a high school student who she felt was on the verge of dropping out of school because of constantly missing her class.
“One day I took a minute to pull the student to the side to ask why they were not consistently attending my class. I decided against bringing the normal interrogation and lecture but simply wanted to find the real reason behind the student’s non-attendance,” she wrote. “After speaking to the student, I was informed there was a valid reason for the non-attendance. The student was shocked by my approach because the student felt ‘nobody cares so why does it even matter if I am here, or not.'”
Brown added that a simple change of the student’s schedule allowed the student to attend class more regularly and ultimately graduate.
“This experience impacted me to encourage all my students from that point forward to attend class, and to take a different approach to non-attendance circumstances,” she wrote. “I inform students that if you come to school and do your part, you will not leave here the same.”
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