Excellence in Teaching: Catholic Central educator feels teaching is her calling

Award winner Kelly Brown did not plan to be a teacher.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Kelly Brown didn’t start off with the goal of becoming a teacher, she initially wanted to work in a crime lab or coroner’s office, but life had different plans for her.

Brown, who teaches high school science, has been teaching for nearly 20 years, with the last 16 years at Catholic Central.

Brown and three other teachers will receive the Excellence in Teaching award on April 15. The 35th awards program is sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club, First Energy, The Springfield Foundation, the Greater Springfield Partnership and the Springfield News-Sun.

Recipients will be introduced and will give a short presentation on what teaching has meant to them and the importance of being a teacher. Recipients will also receive a $1,000 check, a recognition plaque and an etched paperweight.

After graduating colleges with two science degrees, Brown was looking for a job in the forensic science field before she was offered a long-term biology substitute position at then-Springfield South High School.

“I took that position and fell in love with being in the classroom. I have been working in education ever since,” she said. “The year that the high schools merged to form Springfield High, I interviewed for and was offered a position as a science teacher at Catholic Central High School, and this is now my 16th year here.”

Many people have inspired Brown, including her parents, teachers, children, husband, coworkers and students, and she hopes she can instill that inspiration into her students as well. She said she feels like teaching is her calling in life, and even though she has questioned that over the years, it’s where her heart is.

“I find that my heart is in teaching. When I am in the classroom, I know that this is where I am meant to be,” she said.

Brown enjoyed science classes when she was in school, but had a hard time understanding the material and often felt lost. She chose to teach science because she doesn’t want her students to feel as lost as she did and wants them to increase their interest and confidence in the field.

“I tell them on the first day of freshman year science that I can relate most science topics to Legos and chocolate chip cookies, two things that most of them like and can understand. Clear through their senior year in advanced classes, I still discuss these two things as we learn complex topics like biochemistry and human physiology. Being able to break things down and relate them to everyday objects helps them to visualize difficult topics,” she said.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Brown has taught biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, environmental science, advanced chemistry, health, forensic science, food science, comparative anatomy, and co-taught a class on Olympic weightlifting and exercise science.

Her favorite part of being a teacher is interacting with the students, watching their confidence grow, and making sure they know they have someone that cares about them and rooting for them to be successful in life.

Brown said academic skills impact the types of jobs you can have or how financially successful you are, but the social and emotional side can have the biggest impact of how successful one can be overall in life.

“Making sure that the students leave our classroom or building knowing that they have people who care about them and that they have the confidence to pursue their dreams is a large part of what teachers do. Knowing that it is OK to make mistakes, but we have to recognize and learn from them is an important concept that I try to get across,” she said. “Life is often challenging and it is OK to struggle. Ask for help when you need it and offer help when you can. These are all lessons that I try to teach my students. Be a good person, someone you would be proud to know, that’s the goal.”

Brown said she’s “still trying to wrap her head around” being chosen for the Excellence in Teaching award.

“To know that those who I work with everyday think that I am worthy of this award means more to me than I can put into words. I don’t think that I do anything other than try to be a good person and encourage kids to be the best version of themselves while helping them gain the skills to do so,” she said.

Brown earned her Associate of Science degree in forensic science from Clark State College and Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Wright State University.

2024 Excellence in Teaching Award

This is the first story in a four-part series by the Springfield News-Sun on the teachers in Clark County receiving the 2024 Excellence in Teaching Award.

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