As a science teacher for the last 22 years, Walter Brown has had many students, one of whom was his oldest son, Reid.
“That was weird. He would call me Dad or Mr. Brown, and now he’s a [high school] senior so it’s kind of cool seeing him graduate,” Brown said.
His youngest son was not interested in being one of his students, and Brown joked that he was not allowed to be in the same school with his son.
Brown is currently the seventh-and-eighth-grade Center Based Gifted science teacher at Matoaca Middle School. Having decided to become a teacher after a career change, he went back to school and received teacher certification. He has been teaching ever since.
Brown also taught high school at L.C. Bird High School for four years. He said he likes teaching older students but appreciates middle schoolers.
“It’s a tough age [because] you’re not adorable little elementary school kids [and] you’re not mature high school kids … you’re in the middle,” Brown said.
He has spent half of his career teaching in the program, and despite its challenges, he likes the flexibility of teaching beyond the standards. Brown said he teaches at a high school level.
He likes being able to challenge students, adding that they return and tell him that the things he taught them in middle school helped them in college.
Brown does not consider himself a traditional teacher. If his students receive low grades, he offers them a chance to improve them because he wants to be fair.
He said he has a serious side with his pupils, but jokes with them and teaches in a different way.
“I don’t do worksheets, I don’t do handouts. It’s making them think outside of the box always,” Brown said. “My tests are 100 questions, and they make these kids study who never had to study before.”
Brown said he won’t retire until his sons finish college (his oldest is a senior and his youngest is in middle school), but until then he is enjoying being a teacher.
“It’s a fun job,” he said. “I get to do what I want to and teach things the way that I want to do it. Interacting with the kids is fun.”