Tupac once said, “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” Tupac’s words ring particularly true for teachers since they are the ones who spark change in this world. Mrs. Brown-Fordham, an English teacher at Oakland Mills, is not the average teacher. From delving into the deeper meaning of water with her 12 AP class to using props such as her daughter’s toys while explaining character complexities, you never know what to expect when preparing to enter class that morning. Brown-Fordham has never been scared of sharing aspects of her life with students to encourage them, to inspire them, or to simply help them understand that she was once where they are in life and that she can relate to the struggles they face. To put it simply, meeting Mrs. Brown-Fordham has certainly changed my views on higher education for the better and has even inspired me to pursue English in the future.
To many, the future is uncertain, but for some, their future is planned from childhood. Some kids want to be a firefighter, others an astronaut, but dreams and plans change, and for Mrs. Brown-Fordham, the plan did change. She never wanted to teach; surprisingly, she originally started off as a chemistry major because she wanted to be a doctor. She changed to English because of her love for journalism. She wanted to become a writer for a big NYC magazine, but life (doing what life often does) got in the way. “I was 23 with a 3-year-old and sleeping on my sister’s floor with my life in a suitcase. I needed a job! So I thought, let me try teaching,” and after she got a job at Annapolis High School, she knew teaching was for her.
After teaching at various high schools for 15 years, and Oakland Mills for three years, she has decided to move on, but not quite yet. She’s made the choice to get her doctorate degree, “I definitely plan on moving on to higher education before all is said and done. I’m 18 years into a 30-year career. I hope to finish out the 12 before I move on. The doctoral program will take time and Lord knows, I will take my time because mental health is so important.” A doctorate degree declares you an expert in a field of study, and the fields Brown-Fordham is considering are English or Language, Literacy, & Culture. When asked about the application process, she said that it gets harder because it is like everything you do now is being looked at and judged under a microscope, but that won’t stop her from achieving her dream.
When talking about college, she had the following advice for seniors who were planning on attending, “Stay hungry but stay humble. Don’t waste your time comparing your journey to the next.” This is great advice when you think about it: the pursuit of higher education is hard, and it is stressful, but remember that you never know what life will throw at you, so it is best to be prepared for anything.
In her free time, when she isn’t teaching classes or applying to schools, she likes to write. She’s published a poetry book called Under My Dress, which is available on Amazon, and she is currently working on a novel. She also likes to read, watch tv, play with her dog (Nova) or her kids, and spend time with her husband.
Mrs. Brown-Fordham is not only a writer, avid reader, and educator, she is most importantly, a friend. She inspires people by being real with them. She is open and honest about her life to help students understand that life throws curveballs, and you can’t always expect the path you planned to work the best. This is what makes her a valuable asset to our community. She prepares her students for the real-life they will face while making sure they aren’t alone. So good luck on your quest for your doctorate, Mrs. Brown-Fordham. You have a multitude of students backing you up, just as you have been supporting us for all of these years.