Debra Brown's passion for learning is evident each day at Houston's Eisenhower Senior High School. She teaches courses ranging from social studies to journalism to technology applications. Brown believes her own passion for learning helps hook her students.
Brown was presented with the Humanities Texas Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award earlier this month. The award provides Brown with $5,000 in cash, with an additional $500 to her school for the purchase of instructional materials.
"I have two loves," Brown said, "seeing my students succeed and obtaining new information about the world to share with them."
Brown's interest in the world around her motivates both her and her students. She makes her classes "interesting and likeable" by incorporating her life experiences into the classroom, said Dr. Diane Patin, Director of the Gifted and Talented program at Eisenhower.
Students in Brown's classes conduct extensive research, including interviews with historians and people who have participated in historical events. Her students have contributed interviews to the National Archives' collection of oral histories of World War II veterans and to the Houston Holocaust Museum.
"I try to foster tolerance of conflicting viewpoints, including religious and cultural perspectives," said Ms. Brown. "In doing so, students increase their understanding of themselves, their places in the world, and the rich diversity of the world beyond their own knowledge and experience."
Brown is also the technology trainer and consultant for the Eisenhower After School Technology Center and project director and administrator of Eisenhower's Technology in Education Grant. She shows her students how technology can support learning about art and the humanities.
“I always require components that include multiple aspects of the humanities," said Brown. "Even in my Multimedia Production class we use images of art, music, and video that make us think about the world around us. As the students create multimedia presentations, compile documentaries, or design websites, we also look at effective design and how technology can create art."
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette presented Ms. Brown with her award on Wednesday, December 3, at the Eisenhower Senior High School library.
"We are pleased to recognize such an accomplished teacher," said Dr. Gillette. "Ms. Brown instills the joy of learning in her students and motivates them to achieve at high levels."