Sponsor Spotlight: Dr. Briana BrownJuly 5, 2018
by Lily Bermel, Future Blue Intern
For this week’s Sponsor Spotlight, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Briana Brown, an environmental science and marine biology teacher at Brookline High School in Massachusetts.
Dr. Brown is a Cape Cod native who literally grew up on the beach. There, she fostered a deep love for the ocean starting from an early age. Her whole life has been devoted to environmental science and education. While her professional career has been focused on education, her extracurriculars have been devoted to teaching environmental science and being a voice for environmental advocacy. She believes that it was these experiences at an early age — being a naturalist and camp counselor at a nature camp during the summers — which shaped her into who she is and what she is doing today. “Teaching an idea to another person is what really makes you learn about something,” Dr. Brown told me.
Participating in Bow Seat’s programs involves a great deal of “teaching:” teaching yourself as you conduct research on your topics, and letting your submission (essay, work of art, video, campaign) teach others. Dr. Brown surely caught on to this when she heard about Bow Seat during its first year (2011-2012) in a marine educator newsletter.
In every year since her discovery of Bow Seat, Dr. Brown has incorporated the programs into the curriculum of her AP Environmental Science (APES) and other senior classes during the last month after the AP exam. She really values the Ocean Awareness Contest because of the opportunity it gives her to teach students science writing and research skills. “We don’t have enough opportunities to do that in the other science departments,” she states. The broadness of the Contest topics allows students to choose one that really interests them; in turn, they become more invested in their work.
Moreover, participation in the Ocean Awareness Contest teaches students a new form of advocacy. Students begin to realize that participating in the Contest is actually a way to advocate for the environment and oceans, and that can be more than simply calling an elected representative.
“Bringing attention to the issues that we have caused by our activities and showing students that advocacy can take many pathways is really important. You can share your feelings through writing, art, and video.”
Dr. Brown has received Bow Seat’s Sponsor Recognition Award three times. She gratefully uses the award money for additional professional development opportunities. In the past, she has been able to go to marine educator training (like the National Marine Educators Conference) and a geology field camp trip to learn about the New England coastline. She has a biology background and appreciates opportunities to learn more about earth science, because it’s so embedded into APES.
In addition, Dr. Brown values the recognition that Bow Seat and her students have given her for her teaching and introduction of Bow Seat into her high school curriculums.
Dr. Brown told me, “I like using [Bow Seat] as an example — for not only student achievement — but for how students can get their voices out there. How one woman, like [Bow Seat Founder] Linda Cabot, had one idea and is making such a huge impact all over the place. I think she’s a great example of one person making a difference.”
I personally have been fortunate enough to have had Dr. Brown as my own APES teacher in high school. I can easily say that her class was my favorite that I took. She was definitely one of my best teachers in high school and helped to usher me towards my desire to study environmental science in college. From teaching ecosystem ecology to climate change, she portrayed her excitement and passion about these topics in the classroom — and it made an enormous impact.
Congratulations, Dr. Brown!