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Local man chosen APSU Distinguished High School Teacher, nominated by 2 students

For 2007, Austin Peay State Universitys annual Distinguished High School Teacher Award will be presented to a Montgomery Central High School teacher with a reputation for inspiring his students to love science and mathematics.

The APSU Distinguished High School Teacher Award, a brainchild of APSU President Sherry Hoppe, was established in 2005-06 to enable graduating APSU students to honor a high school teacher who made a profound difference in their lives.
For 2007, Austin Peay State University's annual Distinguished High School Teacher Award will be presented to a Montgomery Central High School teacher with a reputation for inspiring his students to love science and mathematics.

The APSU Distinguished High School Teacher Award, a brainchild of APSU President Sherry Hoppe, was established in 2005-06 to enable graduating APSU students to honor a high school teacher who made a profound difference in their lives.

Mike Brown, who teaches mathematics at Montgomery Central High School, was nominated by two APSU senior physics majors Daniel Hogue and Bill Talkingtonboth of whom had Brown for precalculus in high school.

Crediting Brown with helping him improve his ACT scores significantly by providing the opportunity for additional instruction each day before and after regular school hours, Hogue said, “Along with ACT-related materials, Mr. Brown taught ahead in the pre-calculus curriculum, allowing motivated students to advance to calculus-related work. His ability to motivate an entire class and make them believe that anything is possible is astonishing.”

Brown helped Hogue decide on physics as a college major by introducing him to Dr. Jaime Taylor, professor of physics and chair of the APSU Department of Physics and Astronomy. Over the past four years, Hogue has been one of Taylor's rising student stars.

In 2005 when Hogue interviewed with the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Propulsion Program, Brown encouraged him throughout the process. “Mr. Brown convinced me that success is not dependent on where someone comes from; it depends on the drive that comes from that person.”

Hogue became the first student nationwide chosen for the 2007 class of Naval Nuclear Power School instructors. He said, “I know for a fact that I would not be in the position I am in today if it weren't for the selflessness of Mr. Mike Brown.”

In his nomination of Brown, Talkington said, “Though I've had many great teachers in my academic career, there is only one that I refer to as ‘amazing.'

“(Mr. Brown) was the most engaging teacher I have ever had. Day one was full of plans and ideas for the year … rockets, bridge building, radio astronomy and sundial construction. Initially skeptical about this man's goals, I saw every one realized during my senior year.”

Talkington said Brown's greatest attribute is that he gives every student he works with the chance to excel academically and in extracurricular activities.

“I credit the beginning of my academic direction in higher education to Mr. Brown,” Talkington said. “He introduced me to the idea of a physics/science education and recommended me to the physics department at APSU.”

Talkington, too, is a star student at APSU. A summer fellowship at West Virginia State University allowed him to focus his research on cortical auditory signal processing. He also participated in the American Chemical Society's prestigious Nuclear Chemistry School at San Jose State University in California.

After nominations are received from seniors graduating from APSU, nominations and supporting materials are brought before a committee, composed of current and retired APSU faculty, which ultimately decides the award recipient.

Speaking of the lengthy process involved in selecting the winning nominee, Carol Clark, executive assistant to the president, said, “We had an impressive field of nominees this year, so it truly is an honor to be selected for this award.”

Brown, after earning a bachelor's degree from APSU in 1991, continued his education with a combined 25 graduate hours from Middle Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee-Martin and the University of Arizona. He has participated in many educational workshops and conferences, such as Vanderbilt University's Summer Science Collaborative and the Marshall Flight Center Space Sounds Workshop.

Brown's students have conducted numerous high-profile research projects. His unofficial Astronomy Club at Montgomery Central High School participated in Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) Mars 2006 scanning mission.

Brown and his wife, Constance, an Austin Peay alumna, made the news when, as observers at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, they took some of the first photos of a newly exploded supernova. Using these photos as a basis, Brown's students further studied the star in a nearby galaxy.

Because of Brown's grants and research programs, through collaboration with NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he and Dr. Spencer Buckner, associate professor of astronomy at APSU, enabled Brown's studentsvia their computersto use a telescope in the Deep Space Network to witness the Galileo space probe's crash into Jupiter.

Brown was named to the National Who's Who Among Teachers in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006. A 2004 NASA Educator Astronaut nominee, Brown is a member of Del Square Psi Physics Society, Sigma Pi Sigma Physics National Honor Society, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Tennessee Physics Teachers Association and Middle Tennessee Math Teachers Association. He has written and presented several scholarly papers and manuals.

During an April 26 invitation-only Distinguished High School Teacher Award Luncheon, Brown will receive a $1,000 cash award and a piece of ceramic art by Ken Shipley, assistant professor of art, whose work has garnered international acclaim.

For more information about the APSU Distinguished High School Teacher Award, contact Clark by telephone at (931) 221-7570. -- Dennie B. Burke