Classroom Instructor Steve Brown is the Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at White River Academy. He received his B.A. in English from Southern Utah University with a focus in Creative Writing and a minor in History. He is working on his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing through the University of Texas at El Paso and is a published poet. Steve began his teaching career in the Chinle Unified School District on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, where he worked with disadvantaged youth. After six years of teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts, Steve was asked to serve as School Improvement Coordinator for Tsaile Public School in the Chinle District. In that position, with the support of several peers and the principal, he facilitated major changes in the school culture and climate, including instructional and assessment practices that ultimately moved the school from an "Under-performing" label under Arizona Learns to a "Performing Plus" label. Steve has also worked as an outside consultant for school districts through Southwest Educational Consulting Associates, improving school culture and climate, facilitating improvement plans and designing professional
development and curriculum programs for Language Arts. He has also provided training in the Six Traits of Effective Writing at multiple schools in Arizona and served as a coach for the Arizona Department of Education's Professional Development Leadership Academy, a program designed by the state to turn at-risk schools and districts around. His basic educational philosophy is this: Students want to learn, and what keeps them from learning is low self-esteem. Boredom and behavior problems are a cover-up for "I don't get this." The tools students need to achieve and build confidence are:
1) access to real data - how did I do last time and what do I need to do to improve?;
2) instruction that is relevant and delivered in small chunks (teacher models, group practices together, student practices alone for mastery);
3) a culture where mistakes are viewed as vital learning experiences on a path of continual growth; and
4) lots of practice time. With these tools in hand, all students can achieve. Without them, only those who would learn anyway, learn.