When Carmen Brown first walked into her kindergarten room in the 1980s, she knew she had found her niche. Now, after 21 years, Brown will say goodbye to Samuel Staples Elementary School in Easton.
"This is a system that you feel proud to work in," said Brown, who will retire in June. "They demand excellence and will support you in professional development to make your goals."
Brown began working at Samuel Staples in the '80s as a kindergarten teacher. Since then, she has worked in first grade, in reading in grades 1 through 5, in a reading recovery program for first-graders and is currently a reading specialist for grades 3 through 5. She left the system twice since she began once for a maternity leave and a second time to work in another district.
"I kept hearing about her for the first four years that I was working here," said Kimberly Fox-Santora, principal of Samuel Staples. "There wasn't one person I spoke to that didn't hold her in a high regard."
Since Brown returned to the school, Fox-Santora said she is "one of those masterful teachers that make a principal proud."
One of Brown's favorite memories while teaching kindergarten was when she set up a creative environment for the students and observed them. "One student came over to me and said he wanted to sell me eggs," said Brown. She told the student, Teddy, that she was busy and would come back in a little while to buy the eggs. She asked him how much they were and he said, "They were 12 cents, now they're 13 cents." When Brown asked why, Teddy said, "Because it's a holiday."
Brown always brought data, anecdotes and ideas to meetings and always listened to others, "thinking flexibly," said Fox-Santora. A former student who is now in high school wrote Brown a letter that included an essay she wrote about how everything she needed to know she learned in kindergarten in Brown's class. Brown said she will miss her contact with students and teachers. "It's nice to be able to feel like you made a difference," she said.
The school will host a retirement party for Brown, and she has offered to be a resource to whoever gets her position shoes that will be hard to fill, said Fox-Santora.
In her retirement, Brown will move to a golf community in West Virginia with her husband and learn to play. She also plans to cook and read a lot, and she will be closer to her daughter. She plans to be involved in education is some way, whether it's subbing or volunteering.
What are your favorite memories of Carmen Brown? Leave your comments below.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.