Interview with Mr. George Brown
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Originally from Smyrna, New York, Mr. George Brown entered SUNY Fredonia and the Educational Development Program in the fall of 1984 and was awarded a degree in elementary education in 1988. The seeds for his attending Fredonia were planted in third grade when his music teacher mentioned that she attended here. Brown found that the faculty and staff at Fredonia fostered an excellent learning environment for him to pursue "his calling." While at Fredonia, he was president of the Teacher Education Club and led the development of the first annual Children's Festival, an event still in existence today. He also participated in the Fredonia-Hamburg Internship Program, a very rewarding experience that prepared him for the "real" world. He went on to earn his master's degree in special education from The College of St. Rose and his Certificate of Advanced Study in Administration earning a School District Administrator certification from SUNY Cortland. He has taught first, second, fifth, and sixth grades, was a consultant special education teacher, and a principal for seven years. Since he missed having his own class, he decided to return to teaching again full time. For the past five years, Brown has been a second grade teacher at Gibson Primary School in Norwich, New York, where he has gained national notoriety for his innovative teaching approach and never ending ability to think outside the box. His students help set up the classroom each fall, giving them a sense of ownership that is paramount to instilling respect, responsibility and confidence in their ability to learn. The room resembles a mini community with a post office, a living room that can be converted into a working recording studio, a library, a working telephone system and even a piano where Brown teaches children to read by associating notes to syllables in a word. In 2000 in recognition of his excellence, George was one of 33 teacher honorees saluted at the annual Disney American Teacher Awards aired on the Lifetime channel. The 33 teachers were from all regions of the country and were selected from 70,000 initial nominations. In addition, he was one of six teachers on the Oprah Winfrey Show entitled "Salute to Great Teachers." From his first years in college to today, George's personal philosophy statement has remained the same: "I desire and qualify as an "edu-carer" because my greatest concern for students is building windows for those who see no alternative solutions; destroying walls for those entrapped by their own imperfections; and creating bridges for those who cannot find balance with their goals and abilities."