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ROHS Teacher of the Year described as ‘genuine,’ ‘supportive’

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published April 21, 2015

ROYAL OAK — Words used to describe teacher Jennifer Browne include “amazing,” “genuine,” “caring,” “professional,” “supportive” and “student-centered.”

Those words and other terms of endearment and appreciation were spoken during the April 16 school board meeting as Browne was introduced as the 2014-15 Royal Oak Schools Outstanding High School Teacher of the Year.

“I’m truly grateful for this award,” Browne said. “Knowing the tremendous talent and dedication with which my colleagues conduct their classrooms, I humbly accept this honor as really a testament to their importance.”

Royal Oak High School Principal Mike Van Camp said Browne was chosen by a committee of colleagues. Each committee member previously won teacher of the year honors at the high school.

“I was lucky enough to sit in the room as they made their decision, and it was a pretty amazing discussion,” Van Camp said. “Letters of support were written by teachers, parents and a former student.”

One nominating letter, by colleague Lauren Milazzo, stated: “Jennifer is a teacher who cares, is enthusiastic to try new methods and resources, and is, at all times, devoted to providing a world-class learning environment where students surprise themselves by their own growth.”

Milazzo went on to write that “the Royal Oak High School community is extremely lucky to have this wonderfully talented, committed, knowledgeable educator in our lives.”

Browne began her career at Royal Oak Schools in 1993. She teaches English Language Arts and said she has an unwavering love of teaching and her students.

“I’m thankful to all of them who bring their myriad interests, needs, troubles, hopes and dreams into my classroom each day,” she said. “They keep me humble and honest so that I never lose sight of the complex nature of education. For them, I can truly never work hard enough.”

Browne also has served in a variety of leadership positions, including school improvement chairwoman, language arts department chairwoman and assistant principal.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oakland University, a Master of Arts in teaching from Wayne State University and an education specialist degree from Oakland University.

Browne also credits parents, the school board and the larger community for reminding everyone of the potential that each child holds and for providing the resources to serve their vision.

“As the African proverb reminds us, it takes a village to raise and educate a child, and I might suggest a teacher, too,” Browne said.

Each year, Oakland Schools sponsors the Outstanding Teacher of the Year program to honor and recognize teachers who have achieved, through their effort and example, the highest standards of excellence in their profession.

Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said Browne’s excellence is recognized by her peers, her students and district families. He said her commitment to student learning and to continued growth as a teacher exemplifies professionalism in education.

“When we have a high school teacher of the year, that is an individual whose exemplary service be recognized, but she really accepts that award on behalf of all those with whom she works, and she did that quite eloquently,” he said.