February 2013, FSU Art Education alumna LaRhonda Brown was named Martin County School District Teacher of the Year, as well as Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Three teachers out of a group of 22 nominees received recognition at the Education Foundation of Martin County’s Teacher of the Year awards celebration in 2013, and LaRhonda Brown, a Visual Arts teacher at Port Salerno Elementary took home the top honor.
LaRhonda has been teaching for a total of ten years, including eight years in Martin County at Port Salerno Elementary School, where she was recognized for her outstanding award. She is extremely passionate about education and strives to achieve the purpose of education, which she believes is “going beyond creating proficient readers and mathematicians, but also developing creative thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers.” Mrs. Brown makes it her goal to continually develop her students’ ability to think critically about their work, creating connections between literature and works of art, and building cross-curricular lessons like incorporating reflective journals within her classroom.
One of LaRhonda’s favorite projects to do with her students is called the “Empty Bowls” project. With this project, she and her students produce hand crafted bowls out of clay, while also painting and firing them. The students then host a public event encouraging parents and children together to share a bowl of soup to raise awareness of hunger and the needs within our community. Younger students are involved though the creation of placemats with messages of hope that will accompany the bowls of soup. The whole project and event is also used to raise money to support a local food pantry.
Mrs. Brown’s passion for education doesn’t just stop in the classroom, she also coordinates the after school art club where students organize school beautification projects. In addition, she created Port Salerno Elementary School’s Fine Arts Night to increase parent and community involvement and showcase student creations. LaRhonda also serves on a number of school committees including the School Improvement Committee for literacy and math, the PTO’s Community Involvement Committee, and the School Advisory. LaRhonda Brown truly reflects “Art for Life” and the Department of Art Education is extremely proud of her accomplishments.