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Sandee Brown – Oswego Teacher In The Spotlight

OSWEGO, NY – Sandee Brown, a member of the “new” Oswego Middle School’s first graduating class, can be found teaching alongside her former teachers.

“It’s a pleasure and a privilege,” said Brown. “I’ve learned more from working side by side with this group of esteemed veterans, than any college course could ever hope to offer.”

Sandee Brown works with Kelly Canova during class.
Sandee Brown works with Kelly Canova during class.

Brown is the teacher in the spotlight this month for the Oswego City School District.

Brown has been an English teacher at the middle school since 2002.

Although she taught for two years at the high school since then, she has been back “home” at OMS since 2006.

A native Oswegonian, she attended SUNY Oswego for her undergraduate degree and received her Master’s Degree in Middle Level Education.

Brown’s approach to students is to be as “human” and approachable as possible, while remaining the “adult” in the classroom.

“Part of the reason I love teaching middle school is that I remember full well what it’s like to be in seventh and eighth grade. I remember what it’s like trying to figure who you are and where you fit into the grand scheme of things,” she said.

She emphasizes that middle school is “an important process of exploring who you are and who you want to become, learning what to do when you make mistakes and having fun while realizing that you can learn many great things along the way.”

Brown recently discussed the ways that use of the SMART Board has changed the way she teaches in the classroom.

“With today’s technology, learning is exciting and appeals to a broader spectrum of students. The students love the SMART Board, it’s a little more intuitive for them than it is for me!” she said.

She points out that she is able to provide interesting visual presentations to students and store them online so students can access them from home if they’re absent or need to review.

Brown is planning to utilize the SMART Response System to review, quiz students and facilitate classroom discussion.

She comments that students “respond to technology. It’s an integral part of their everyday culture. I’m always open to new technology, to keep things fresh and relevant to my students.”

The technology tool Brown is most excited about is her classroom website.

She uses this to encourage important communication between school and home.

“Students and parents can find out what we’ve done in school each day, what the homework is, download assignments, find answers to questions, explore helpful education-related links, book recommendations or earn extra credit by taking part in blog discussions. It’s a lot of hard work to keep updated, but so worth the time invested,” she said.

Brown is a strong advocate of teamwork in teaching.

In addition to many interdisciplinary team units developed and implemented over the past 8 years, she recently developed a new Literary Term Project with OMS Library Media Specialist Mary Alice Brunell and Special Education co-teacher Wendy Allen.

This project utilized the SMART Board, Windows Moviemaker and a Flip camera.

“Students working in cooperative groups developed Moviemaker presentations that displayed literary terms, definitions and two examples of each term. They used examples from novels that they have read, and created a video skit that was acted out by the group. They had a chance to infuse creative visual graphics and music with their content area skills,” Brown explained.

In addition, Brown integrated best practice by requiring audiences to take notes on each presentation using the Six-Step Vocabulary Model.

“The project was a fantastic way to meet ELA standards, while incorporating district initiatives through the use of varied technology,” she said.

Married to Jeff Brown, also an OMS teacher, they have a blended family of five children: Hannah, Spencer, Nicholas, Nathan and Alex.

Their family also consists of their Golden Retriever, Jake, and cat, Dunkin’.

Brown is as busy outside of school as she is inside.

“I love spending time with my family, whether it’s playing or doing ‘chores’ together,” she said.

She and her family enjoy fishing, hiking and camping, especially in the Adirondacks.

She also loves to go shopping, paint, draw, and loves to decorate the kids’ birthday cakes.

Brown said, “My favorite part of teaching is the end of the year, when you see how far your students have grown. It’s wonderfully rewarding to be a part of that journey and know that you’ve touched a person’s life and hopefully made a positive difference.”

For all that she has done to educate, engage, and excite the students at Oswego Middle School, Brown is being recognized as the Teacher Spotlight for January 2011.