Lakeisha Brown, an educator who overcame homelessness, was named the D.C. Public Schools Teacher of the Year.
Even though she was awarded this honor in December 2018, Brown candidly spoke with ABC 7 on Wednesday about her own personal adversities growing up, admitting she had teachers who failed to recognize her potential.
“They counted me out,” Brown said. “They didn’t put a lot of focus on African Americans, and that we could go to college or push us to take AP classes.”
What her teachers didn’t know was that Brown was the primary caregiver for her mother, who was dying of AIDS, when she was only nine years old.
“Being up the night before and taking care of a sick parent — my teachers were always mad that I was late,” Brown shared. “They didn’t take the time to give me a moment.”
When she decided to pursue education as her own career path, Brown made a promise not to do the same to her students:
“I told myself I want to be a teacher that counts every child, who thinks that everyone can make it.”
The educator vowed to bring an atmosphere of positivity to her classroom at Lafayette Elementary School in Northwest D.C., where she has taught for the last four years.
“My number one goal is my kids know before we even start our day that they can get a hug first,” Brown stated. “If they are late, I’m not going to rush them in. I’m going to embrace them because you never know what happened before they got there.”
Brown’s Candy Land-themed classroom reflects the excitement she wants her students to have upon entering her space. She furthermore encourages her scholars to lead discussions which, in turn, helps those who are more reserved find their voice.
“My students do the teaching rather than me doing it. You will see them leading the classroom, asking questions to each other,” Brown explained. “Some of the children who are shy and reserved don’t have their voices heard. So I started selecting them just to make sure that they are also coming out of their shell as well.”
Brown’s students also appreciate their teacher’s commitment to learning, too.
“I like coming in to see Ms. Brown,” Emily, one of her students told ABC 7. “She lets us have fun, but she keeps us getting our brains smarter.”Way to go, Ms. Brown!