Latina and beyond

Brown uses background to make difference

CHS9+Spanish+teacher+Rosa+Brown+explains+an+upcoming+project+to+a+student+during+fifth+period+on+Oct.+2.+Brown+immigrated+from+Chihuahua%2C+Mexico+and+is+a+Spanish+II+teacher+at+CHS9.

Samantha Freeman

CHS9 Spanish teacher Rosa Brown explains an upcoming project to a student during fifth period on Oct. 2. Brown immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico and is a Spanish II teacher at CHS9.

By Sreeja Mudumby, Coppell High School

As she waves goodbye to the beaches and swaying trees of Mexico, her eyes dart at the big red, white and blue flag. A tingle occurs, followed by a shiver.

Woman.

Doesn’t know English.

No paternal support.

One big dream.

Is it worth it?

CHS9 Spanish II teacher Rosa Brown immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico when she was 19. Brown sought new opportunities and a chance to display her worth in the United States. Though her father was against her moving overseas, Brown continued her journey with her mother’s bank loans and endless support.

“It was not easy,” Brown said. “There was a language and culture barrier, and just being alone. But I had a dream. My dream was, I want to be able to be someone in life, and do it on my own.”

Being very unfamiliar with English, Brown faced more obstacles than the typical university student. Attending Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, Brown learned to adapt as best as she could, recording her lectures and listening to them over and over again in order to grasp all the knowledge she could.

“There were a lot of times when I was ready to give up,” Brown said. “But I remember thinking if I give up, my dad is going to win. I was not ready for that. I was going to prove to him that I [could] do it on my own, and when you have a goal in your mind, it can be moving.”

It was not easy,” Brown said. “But I had a dream. My dream was, I want to be able to be someone in life, and do it on my own.”

— CHS9 Spanish II teacher Rosa Brown

When she came to the United States, Brown was appalled by the negative attitude she had seen in the news and television shows about Hispanics, such as making them unintelligent sit-still characters. She committed to changing such stereotypes through her career.

“By teaching the passion and pride that I have for my culture, I feel that I can contribute to society,” Brown said. “I can show people how Mexican people really are, and that’s how I decided to [pursue] education.”

Implementing moral values with academic lessons remains significant to Brown. In her classroom, respect is the most important quality, as that ensures a safe environment where students can openly talk and ask questions.

“You don’t have to have a Ph.D., just have empathy,” Brown said. “Have empathy for others and have respect. You can create the best lesson plan, but if you don’t make a connection with the kids, if you don’t have that value of ‘I’m going to listen to you, I’m not always right, and I’m going to respect your opinion’ then that’s different.”

According to CHS9 student Spoorthi Sadasivuni, Brown does exactly this.

“She is a really compassionate teacher,” Sadasivuni said. “She understands that we have a lot of things outside of school, so she tries to help us as much as she can in school and in class.”

Brown has also taken into account the stress students feel due to COVID-19 limitations.

“She’s been really accommodating,” CHS9 student Subashree Ganesan said. “She lets us talk to her in breakout rooms, she helps us with projects and she’s been really lenient with our work.”

CHS9 Spanish teacher Rosa Brown explains an upcoming project to a student during fifth period on Oct. 2. Brown immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico and is a Spanish II teacher at CHS9.

Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time where the cultures, contributions and histories of Hispanic and Latin Americans are celebrated. This month is very important to Brown, and she ensures that her students understand the value of the 30 days.

“These are the real heroes,” Brown said. “Cesar Chavez, Frida Kahlo, Sonya Sotomayor. They don’t wear the cape but they’re real heroes. I want [students] to know that all these Hispanic heroes made this country better. [The students] all come from different backgrounds, they’re all very smart. Especially if the students are Hispanic, then I want them to know that there are role models that represent them.”

Brown teaches her students more than Spanish, and leaves them with lessons of a lifetime.

“It’s important for me to see that not only one race will succeed in this country,” Brown said. “Looking at other people like me, they can achieve whatever they want. That’s the goal, to show students that Hispanics are not as stereotypical as seen on TV. Hispanics are engineers, painters, scientists, writers and activists. They’re anyone.”

This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on October 5, 2020.