Sharing the Love of Mathematics

Sharing the Love of Mathematics
Marshall Brown

The great NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, once noted “We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and go away, but there will always be science, engineering, and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics.” Someone who shares that philosophy is the 2023 Westmoreland County District Teacher of the Year, Marshall Brown. Head of the Montross Middle School math department, Mr. Brown brings over 20 years of math expertise to his students. His love of numbers and the science behind those numbers is alluded to with his enthusiasm for educating students, teachers, and parents. He leads a team of eight teachers that believe every student will understand and appreciate the excitement of mathematical studies.

Mr. Brown and his team aim to be above the rest of the math programs in the area. As such, they meet every Friday and discuss all the student data of the week. Brown is a firm believer in utilizing data to better meet the educational needs of the MMS students. He and his team use this data to see if there are problem areas, what’s working, and to utilize the best practices. This approach to teaching is working as over the past year there were 75 successful recoveries from the grim COVID experiences. The constant review of data gives the Brown team an ongoing working document that helps dictate the direction the department must take for student success. Additionally, afterschool tutoring is available to students.

One of the new tools that Mr. Brown’s team uses is giving every student partial credit for their work. In the COVID era, students used the Canvas program and ended up “guessing” at problems. After the students returned to school, they had to learn to define their work and show the steps needed to obtain an answer. By receiving a partial credit, if a student makes an error, they will still receive some credit for the work they did to get to their answer.

Another tool that Brown created is the use of a warm-up math session in every math class. Called “Problem of the Day or POD,” it is used at the beginning of all math classes. The warm-up begins with a review of previous math problems and works into new problems. It is a practice that the students appear to appreciate. Brown also has provided students with access to a large workbook that covers all the math that might be utilized on the SOL tests. This workbook is extensive and is designed to guide a student throughout the year.

Marshall Brown has seen a lot of changes over the years. He is delighted with his 20-year tenure with Montross Middle School. The math students are lucky to have such experienced instructors in their midst. As Brown notes, his team includes two math teachers who also have been at Montross Middle School for 20 years each, Christy Beamer(6th) and Jessica Spears (8th). They are joined by Billie Jo Darrow (6th), Sam Auslender (8th), Jennifer Johnson (7th), Aharon Tyson (7th), and special education teachers Elizabeth Nelson (6-8) and Sherry Wells (7). Brown cites his team members as being the “best group” and willing to do whatever needs to be done for the MMS math students.

Mr. Brown has earned the Teacher of the Year honor twice before. This is his first recognition as the Division Teacher of the Year and he is “humbled” by his selection. “I am truly honored to be selected as Montross Middle School and Westmoreland County Teacher of the Year. I’m blessed that I get to work so closely with a dedicated team that provides meaningful math instruction each day.”

Growing up in Warsaw, Virginia he has been a local resident all of his life. He attended Old Dominion University and graduated with Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on mathematics. He received his master’s degree as a Math Specialist from Virginia Commonwealth University. Brown has two sons, Jordan, an IT specialist for Atlantic Union Bank and Austin, a deputy with the Hanover County Sheriff’s Department. He is a proud grandfather of four.

Westmoreland County Public Schools is honored to have a teacher of Marshall Brown’s caliber, character, and resolve to represent its educational staff. The other teachers of the year for Westmoreland County are Cople Elementary, Sarah Jones, fifth grade teacher; Washington District Elementary, Deidre Bruno, third grade teacher; and Westmoreland High School, Maribel Mendoza, Spanish teacher. Congratulations to all of these exceptional instructors.