This site has under gone a dramatic change, but do not fear the change. If you are a teacher, student, or APSI workshop participant who has utilized this site in the past, you will still find the AP English and Pre-AP English material from the past. Hopefully, the use of a search engine and categories/tags will make it easier for you to locate the appropriate material and/or lesson. Let me know if I have “dropped” something that you really, really need. The process of updating the site in ongoing.
You may contact me at jerry(at)jerrywbrown.com
These pages were originally designed to assist students in my classes at Treetops International School in Euless, Texas and later for students at Round Rock High School, Round Rock, Texas. Former students are still welcome to visit these pages, locate material with which they were familiar from past courses, and use the material to continue their educational work.
“If students avoid challenges in their course selection, they’re probably not going to be good candidates, no matter what their grades, test scores, or extracurricular activities are.” – Michael Behnke, Director of Admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As a new school year begins, I thought I would post an essay that I wrote years ago for a “Believe it” contest (it won 4th place). It is a reflection on the influence that teachers have even when they are unaware of that influence.
“As I left the stage, I was positive that once again I would be chided for stumbling through the simple routine which seemed to elude my “two left feet”. The other members of the quartet always seemed confident of their movements while I seemed destined to clunk about the stage. As I slumped into my seat, I could hear Mr. Fulks beginning the evening’s critique which would leave us laughing all right, but would still cause my ears to turn scarlet with embarrassment.
Odd, after so many years, I still recall not only this incident, but so many interesting moments with this mentor who continues to wield influence on my daily interactions with students. He never knew how carefully I listened to his comments and monitored his movements and tone of voice. I have never been able to precisely duplicate his firm yet kind and humorously entertaining approach to teaching and working with students, but I keep trying.
His strong influence on me is why I continue to believe that as a teacher I can still make a difference in the lives of students. The world of high stakes testing and No Child Left Behind seems to have created a world where Love of Learning is Left Behind. The push to achieve crowds out the time to read a book simply because its words transport us, to listen to music because it calls to us, to dance about the room because the urge to move is irresistible, to paint or draw because the colors beg to splash upon the canvas spontaneously, or to act upon the stage because the dramatist’s lines shake us to the foundation of our being. As a teacher, I must make certain that those appeals are not lost for they are the very essence of learning.
We enter the world with music, dance, art, and the love of stories as the core of our being. Yet, somewhere along our path those “bits” seem to be whittled away. They must be restored and nurtured. That is where I believe I must enter. It is essential that my joy and enthusiasm for music, art, literature, dance, and the various forms of human endeavor be communicated to students. It is essential they realize they have the ability to express and understand the myriad forms of human endeavor. It is essential they learn to pass joy and enthusiasm to the next traveler on the path.
As Mr. Fulks continued through our list of accomplishments and failures, he finally got to my scene. Even though I had been laughing with the others, I now steeled myself for the deep sigh of disappointment that would come after he said my name. “Jerry, (surprise, no sigh!) I think you might give Fred Astaire some competition.” Me? I knew I wasn’t that good, but those words of encouragement continue to ring in my ears. I hope some of my words of support and encouragement are still in the hearts and minds of my students.”