Islander Alumnus Kyle Brown Earns District-Wide Rookie Teacher Award

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – An exemplary work ethic and a positive can-do attitude earned Kyle Brown ‘18 the Bryan Independent School District 2019-2020 “Rookie of the Year” award after his first year as a teacher and basketball coach. Brown attended Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi from 2015-2019 where he not only earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a teaching certificate, but also played in over 80 Islanders Men’s Basketball games during his collegiate career.

The former student-athlete attributes his passion for teaching to many people, including his high school English IV teacher, Mrs. Rose Owens, and his grandmother, the late Ivory Brown, who was also an educator. He says his grandmother was not just a role model to her family, but to her community as well. He notes that she graduated as valedictorian of her college class and taught for many years at Boyce Elementary School in Louisiana.

“To hear and witness some of her students, to this day, speak about how much she impacted their lives gives me motivation to do the same,” said Brown, a reading interventionist at Stephen F. Austin Middle School and basketball coach at James Earl Rudder High School, both located in Bryan.

For his success, Brown also credits head Islanders Basketball coach, Willis Wilson, whom he describes as a “second dad” to him during his time on campus.

“The wisdom that he poured into me over the years helped me tremendously to navigate through life’s victories & hardships,” Brown said.

He also gives thanks to Everett Lee Scott, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, along with Dr. Robin Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Learning Sciences.

“When I met Kyle, I immediately recognized his desire to make a positive impact on his future students and bring his knowledge base and life experiences to the classroom,” said Johnson. “In becoming a teacher, he said he wanted to return the favor to the next generation of students and student-athletes. Teaching is a challenging profession, but I knew from the start that Kyle would be an educator who would make a difference in his students' lives.”

Brown earned his bachelor’s degree in 2018 and continued in the Island University’s Alternative Certification of Educators (ACE) program until 2019, where he completed teacher certification courses in less than a year.

Although Brown found a significant measure of achievement in his first year, it was profoundly altered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For me, it was challenging to teach with limited access to my students, but the relationships I built with them throughout the school year paid off,” Brown said. “We as teachers are called into a role of leadership with a profound platform. So, to be in this position during a time like this gives us an opportunity to use that platform to let our students, their families, and our communities know that we care about their safety and well-being.”

Johnson notes that she never doubted Brown’s ability to overcome any challenge he faces.

“When you are a natural educator like Kyle, the rewards of teaching outweigh the challenges,” said Johnson. “During his time on the Island, he was an encourager, motivating his teammates to give 100% effort. He was a communicator on the court, during the huddle, and from the bench, which I also saw as he planned and taught lessons over his content area.”

In lieu of an award ceremony cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryan ISD administrators surprised Brown with his “Rookie of the Year” award at his home with a bouquet of flowers and cheers of appreciation.

“It goes to show that when you don’t make it about yourself and take it one day at time, great things tend to transpire,” he said.

In addition to the support and motivation provided to him by family, faculty, and peers, Brown emphasized the importance of the Island University’s can-do culture in helping him to be a successful student and future teacher.

“The energy on campus was so inviting, creative, and open,” he said. “It felt like once you stepped on the Island you could become whoever and whatever you wanted to be.”