UF-honored student-teacher excels in both roles in the classroom

When 21-year-old Carla-Ann Brown isn’t exploring Gainesville’s culinary diversity or teaching herself how to knit, she is excelling in the classroom, both at the college’s Norman Hall and in fourth grade at Terwilliger Elementary School where she is an intern.

Brown was named an “Outstanding Four-Year Scholar” during summer commencement when she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, a 3.97 GPA and various awards and honors. Now, she is a graduate student at UF studying elementary education.

Brown credits the University of Florida’s teachers, opportunities and connections for her successes.

“UF offers so many experiences and so many placements so that you can become a well-rounded teacher,” she said.

Above all, Brown’s most rewarding academic experiences happened in the classroom, and not when she was the one behind the desk.

One of her favorite memories as an undergraduate was her first time interning in a classroom. That was the moment she was finally able to apply her academic work to pursuing her dream career.

“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but now I think I have more knowledge and more experience that I can share with my students,” said Brown, who wants to teach fourth grade, particularly gifted students who are sometimes overlooked because “teachers feel they don’t need the help or extra attention.”

Brown said what makes her unique as a teacher is how she connects with her students.

“I try to be relatable to my students because I know from experience that if what they’re learning is not relatable to their real-life situation, then it’s not going to have an impact on them whatsoever,” Brown said.

Her inspiration for this attitude is her sixth- and seventh-grade language arts teacher in her hometown of West Palm Beach.

“He was so excited about what he taught and I think that’s what drew me in,” Brown said. “I want to have as big as an influence on my students as he did.”

Meanwhile, underneath Brown’s passion and hard work lies “a young person with an older person mentality” who spends hours watching the Food Network and loves to sew,” she said.

Brown even hopes to incorporate cooking and sewing into teaching math and reading to her future fourth graders.

“It would make things more fun and interesting,” she said.

WRITER: Alexa Lopez, 352-273-4449, aklopez@coe.ufl.edu
MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137, llansford@coe.ufl.edu