Due to the recent media coverage of the dismissal of Mr Rohan Brown from Trinity Grammar, I wanted to share my views of Mr Brown.
Firstly, here is one link to an Article about the dismissal of Mr Brown. You may have also seen many reports on the News about his dismissal.
I first met Mr. Brown in 1985 when I started Year 7 at Erinbank Secondary College in the suburb of Westmeadows (which is part of Broadmeadows). Mr Brown was a Maths teacher but he did so much more for the students at our school.
Mr. Brown assisted the students (myself included) who were elected to be in the Student Representative Council (SRC). Mr Brown always attended the meetings and guided us on how an effective meeting should run and how we, the SRC could make our school a better place for learning and social activities. He gave us the confidence to do things for the benefit of our fellow students. As an SRC representative for 4 years. I learnt a lot from Mr Brown on how to be proactive at school away from the classroom.
Furthermore, by being in the SRC, I sometimes was invited to attend School Council meetings or other Committee meetings. Mr Brown was always in attendance and he always supported any action or policy that was beneficial to the students.
Mr Brown was an enthusiastic member of our school community. He was involved in our school fetes, got students involved in a community garden and he ran the Duke of Edinburgh Awards at our school. By doing this work, Mr Brown gave many students the opportunity to learn a variety of skills that we would not have got in the school curriculum.
Thanks to Mr Brown’s drive, Erinbank Secondary College was able to have our own school camp at Lake Eppalock. Before the camp was fully built the students participated in different building activities under the guidance of Mr Brown. I remember that my Year 7 classmates and I learnt how to lay the floorboards in one of the cabins. Mr Brown would also arrange Working Bees up at the camp site. Students and parents would willingly attend the Working Bees and work effectively over a weekend.
One of the amazing things Mr Brown did for our school was to organise a Table Tennis a Thon. Students had to get sponsors/money and then we played table tennis for 24 hours. The money raised by the students would go towards purchasing items such as computers (an extraordinary achievement in the 1980s) and even an indoor swimming pool. It was unthinkable for a government school to have its own swimming pool, but we did. At the Table Tennis a Thon, the junior levels would play during the day and the senior students played all night until the following morning. Mr Brown was there from start to finish making sure that we were playing and fulfilling our obligation to play table tennis as promised to our sponsors. Mr Brown made us feel proud of our fund raising efforts and yet he was the real powerhouse behind the Table Tennis a Thon.
Mr Brown was a strict but fair teacher. If a student was deliberately breaking the rules, damaging school property, causing harm to other students or teachers, or being racist, Mr Brown would deal with the negative behaviour swiftly. If a student ever got in trouble with Mr Brown they quickly learnt that the negative behaviour would not be tolerated. Furthermore, that student was unlikely to ever repeat that bad behaviour. On at least 2 occasions my classmates and I applauded Mr Brown when he removed, suspended or expelled trouble makers from our school. While I felt that some teachers turned a blind eye to racism at school (especially at primary school), Mr Brown was the first teacher that I saw reprimand a student for making racist remarks. In the 1980s, having been the target of racists myself, I felt that Mr Brown’s actions were powerful. Knowing Mr Brown would not tolerate negative behaviour or bullying made the students feel safe and therefore made our school days enjoyable.
Even though Mr Brown did so many extra activities for the students, he was still a fantastic Maths Teacher. Due to his knowledge, great sense of humour and effective communication skills, Mr Brown’s classes were informative and fun. Mr Brown was always happy to receive questions or to explain concepts again to ensure we understood the work. I was never really into Maths but Mr Brown’s passion for Maths and his teaching style gave me a great appreciation and understating of the subject.
For me, not only was Mr Brown a great teacher but he was an exceptional person because he successfully instilled a strong school spirit into the students at our school. He always put the needs of the students first. He motivated us to learn and encouraged us to pursue a variety of the opportunities that the school gave us. He was a passionate teacher who cared deeply about the students. Mr Brown was always at school very early and probably one of the last staff members to leave in the evening. He always walked around the school enthusiastically with his sleeves rolled up like a man on a mission.
Mr Brown never judged the students at our school negatively based on where we lived or how much money our parents had or didn’t have. Instead he was always looking out for our interests and he made us feel proud of ourselves and our school.
When Mr Brown finished at Erinbank Secondary College at the end of 1988, our community was devastated. So many past and present students and all of their parents attended a farewell BBQ in his honour. It was clearly evident to me on that night that Mr Brown was loved and respected. So many people came together that night to celebrate his achievements as a teacher and mentor at our school. Sadly, that was the last time I spoke to Mr Brown.
30 years later Mr Brown is getting media coverage not for all of his excellent work as a teacher, Vice-Principal, mentor, leader, champion of students but rather for what many people believe is an unfair dismissal from his current school Trinity Grammar.
I personally don’t know anybody who went to Trinity Grammar but I’m certain that students that went to Erinbank Secondary College and Trinity Grammar would share so many fantastic stories about Mr Brown.
I feel blessed that I had so many fantastic teachers at Erinbank Secondary College. However, Mr Brown had such a positive impact on my life. He was/is a brilliant teacher but more importantly he is an amazing human being who undoubtedly has left a positive impact on thousands of students over the last 40 years.
Mr Brown, thank you so much for all that you did for all of your students. Good luck with whatever you do next.
By STEVE YANKO
© STEVE YANKO 2018
About the Author
Steve Yanko is a Music Teacher, Musician, Song Writer & Consultant who loves working in the world of music.
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