Shakira Brown '03
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In recognition of her exceptional talents as a teacher and role model for students, Shakira Brown ’03 will be traveling to Antarctica in fall 2008 on a National Science Foundation grant with Dr. Stephen Pekar. Shakira’s innovative teaching style has earned her accolades throughout the New York City school system.
Shakira’s original intention was to become a doctor, but on the way she discovered her gift: teaching. Her first official teaching experience came as she was trying to figure which type of graduate program she would enter. Shakira’s substitute teaching experience in Newark helped her find this gift and, with the help of mentors, it became a reality. She worked through the alternate route program that Newark Public Schools offered and became provisionally licensed to teach.
After her first year teaching in Newark, she attended the Conference of Teaching and Learning in New York and had the opportunity to hear Geoffrey Canada, president of Harlem Children’s Zone /Promise Academy Charter School, speak. She immediately knew she wanted to do anything to assist in that organization’s efforts. This desire led her to become the new sixth and eighth grade science teacher at Promise Academy.
Shakira grew up in Irvington, New Jersey, with a single mother and four brothers, attending local public schools. Her family didn't have much money, but never lacked attention, encouragement and the basic necessities. Critical sources of encouragement were her mother and several of her teachers. At every grade level, there was always at least one teacher who saw a gift in Shakira, which kept her going in the right direction academically.