The award-winning science teacher will take up his new post July 1. He will oversee and write grants and supervise all the county’s school science departments, from kindergarten through high school.
Brown, 49, began his career at Tracy High immediately after student-teaching at Franklin High School in Stockton.
He will take the place of county director Paul Gardner, who is leaving to become superintendent of Hickman Community Charter School District.
“I am very happy about that, the fact that I still get to work here in this county where I have spent my whole life as an educator,” Brown said. “I’m really happy about the fact I can help my colleagues here if they need help.”
At Tracy High, he has served 15 years as chairman of the school’s science department. During that time, he has outfitted classrooms at Tracy High with tools and techniques rarely seen in public high schools, through his work with biotech companies including Bio-Rad and Genentech. He hopes to do the same at the county level.
“We have a model program here (at Tracy High),” he said. “We could try to emulate that and try to expand those opportunities for kids in the various other schools in the county.”
Partnerships with industry, he suggested, could provide a boost for science, technology, engineering and math instruction at all the county’s schools and help teachers encourage their students in kindergarten through high school to take more math and science classes and think about engineering careers.
Brown said he would make networking a top priority in his new position at the county.
“One of things I’d like to do is highlight things that are going on at the various schools, find experts that are already there and bring people together,” he said. “When you bring teachers together, one of the things they say is they are their own best resource.”
One of his first tasks will be to enact the Next Generation Science Standards, a curriculum still under review that will soon be used in the classrooms of San Joaquin County.
As Brown shifts from teaching students to working with fellow educators, he said he was sorry to leave behind the day-to-day interaction in the classroom.
“The thing I’ll miss the most is the direct contact with kids,” Brown said. “At some point, everyone knows as a teacher, you eventually have to not work with kids. Having done it for 25 years, I’m at a point in my life that I have amassed enough experience that I feel like I need to share it with other people, so that all my hard work can really be moved on to a new group.”
During his Tracy High tenure, Brown started the school’s International Baccalaureate advanced biology class from scratch and was part of the team that established the Agricultural-Scientific Academy in 1992. He also created a biotechnology class in 2001 and added new technology at the school, including classroom teleconferencing.
He graduated from California State University, Stanislaus, with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a concentration in entomology.
Brown has received many national and local teaching awards, most recently being named San Joaquin County Teacher of the Year for 2011-12.
“I’m torn — I love it here, in every way, shape and form. I love every second of it,” Brown said. “(But) it’s a new challenge and opportunity that probably won’t come around again in my career. It’s time. I’ve taught long enough.
“I feel 25 years is a good number. You can say you’ve done good things if you have spent 25 years teaching kids.”