By Kate Krauser
With three master’s degrees under her belt, ranging from fine arts to teaching, Debra Brown has joined Oak Halls second grade team. In addition to teaching math and social studies, her favorite subject to teach is reading. “I love to read to the students,” she said. Her background in theater helps the stories be entertaining for the students. “I am able to use different voices with characters,” Brown explained. The new Lower School teacher models prosody, which teaches properties of speech. She believes by teaching this concept, it will help the students read with expression.
Brown grew up in Urbana, Ill., where she attended Urbana High School. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in photography at Southern Illinois University, and her master’s in theater at Illinois State University. Before returning to Illinois to teach theater at a private school, Brown was a professional actor and theater teacher in Houston, Texas for four years.
After meeting her husband and working through a long-distance relationship, they got engaged and moved to Mississippi, where she got her Master of Fine Arts in acting at the University of Southern Mississippi. They were brought to Gainesville when her husband got a job as a clinical assistant professor in the College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida.
Brown loves Gainesville because of the warm weather and how family friendly Gainesville is. “There’s a good amount of things to do which is wonderful. I like that it’s not far away from the beach,” Brown explained. Her only dislike is the lack of fall colors during the changing of seasons. Before Brown worked at Oak Hall, she worked at O2B Kids where she trained teachers. Because she always wanted to teach kids, she got a master’s in teaching at the University of Florida. Brown ended up at Oak Hall when she met Director of Enrollment Management Nancy Coleman, and the Assistant Director of the Middle School, Shelly Warm, at a job fair. Since they hit it off, Coleman and Warm told Brown that she should interview for the open position for a second grade teacher.
This year, Brown is most excited to see how the children progress. “Looking at a child’s writing in January and all [the work] back to September, and saying, ‘Wow! Look at the growth and how they can express themselves and the words they can spell now!’,” exclaimed Brown. When Brown is not teaching, she likes to listen to the Beatles and do crafts like painting and being creative with felt. She also likes to be with her husband, and son David, whose life aspirations include knighthood.