After serving more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy, Chief Frederick Brown decided to give the corporate world a try. Although the stint was short-lived, the experience helped him realize that working with kids is his true calling. When an opportunity to direct the Leadership Cadet Corps program at Sam Tasby Middle School came his way, he took the job. Eight years later, he says, “I love it.
Of all the hats he wears at Tasby ̶ LCC instructor, athletic coordinator, and safety coordinator – it’s the unofficial job of mentor to his 138 sixth- through eighth-graders that he likes most. Being a mentor affords him the opportunity to work closely with the students to ensure they develop the leadership skills necessary to become successful in life.
“I tell my kids that I cannot teach them English, language arts, science, math or social studies, but I want to build their desire to learn all of those subjects,” said Brown. “I want them to be successful and to build a good, strong character that will inspire them to do good things instead of negative things.”
Brown’s LCC class is built on the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. He says teaching students marching and drills helps develop their teamwork and discipline, but in his class, instruction goes beyond that. He uses the pillars of character to touch on challenges such as bullying, resolving conflicts, communication and building personal relationships.
He wants to reduce the high school dropout rate of Hispanic and African American students, and believes that building a strong foundation in middle school can help increase student success. “Many of the students just want to know that someone cares about them,” he said. “All it takes is one person to say, ‘I believe you can do this.’”
This Veterans Day, Brown and his students are conducting a special ceremony to acknowledge Tasby staff members who have served in the military, presenting them letters of appreciation. An American flag that flew over Afghanistan also will be flown at Tasby as part of the Veterans Day festivities.
While Brown appreciates the recognition he receives on Veterans Day, he says other veterans have sacrificed more. Still, he says he feels grateful and humble to be part of that select group.