This post is long overdue—about a year, in fact. Hannah Brown joined The New Century School in September 2018, and thanks to her smiling efficiency, reception runs like a clock. So, it’s time get to know Ms. Brown and find out what keeps that smile on her face!
Ms. Brown graduated from the University of Iowa, located in Iowa City, in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in both French and Spanish (she double majored). Since entering college, she also worked in some capacity in early childhood education. She began as a part-time assistant in a childcare center/preschool for children ages 2 to 5, soon becoming a lead teacher there, and ultimately advancing to coordinator (second to the director). “Although it was a small school—there were about 25 students—we were very multicultural” says Ms. Brown.” We were located by the university hospital, so we had families doing medical fellowships from all over the world. It was a great precursor to what I’m doing here.”
She worked there for several years before taking a job with the standardized testing company ACT, where she was a supervisor in their student services department. She describes this stint as basically taking escalated phone calls from moms and dads to help them navigate the standardized testing experience, or, as she put it, “talking them off the ledge”—these tests can be daunting, after all!
As for what prompted her to move east to Baltimore, she says: “I always knew I wanted to move out of Iowa—I love Iowa; it was great place to grow up—but I’ve always loved both the east coast and the west coast.” As luck would have it, during a few visits to friends here, she fell in love with the city. “Cost of living wise, it’s pretty comparable to the midwest here, unlike a lot of other cities. I thought, ‘this is something I can do,’ so I made the leap.”
She has called Baltimore home for just over a year, having moved on August 14th (a date she remembers because it’s her brother’s birthday). She started working at TNCS just a few weeks later. “I saw a job posting, came and met with Señora Duncan, and loved the school right away.” The sentiment was evidently reciprocated—TNCS called her with an offer just a few hours later!
When asked how she would characterize her position at TNCS, Ms, Brown laughed and said, “I wear a lot of different hats.” On some days, she seems to be everywhere, facilitating various school processes and keeping things straight in general. “I’m the receptionist, but also a lot more than that. I like the term, ‘multipurpose caregiver’, which a first-aid trainer once called me.” She says that some of her duties include being the school nurse, helping with student onboarding, doing administrative assistant work, and so on. “She has even conducted school tours for prospective families.
Like she says, she does a lot, and her varied background seems to have groomed her perfectly for her kaleidoscope of roles. “I feel like I get to see a little bit of everything, and I’m very versatile” she said. She clearly appreciates this aspect of her work, but the character of the school is also a draw for her:
I love it here. Part of what appealed to me was the Spanish immersion program—the Chinese immersion program is great too; I wish I spoke Mandarin—it’s really, really inspiring. I started studying languages when I was 14, a freshman in high school, and I’m lucky that I’m somewhat language-oriented. I think that what we’re doing here, the service that we’re providing in teaching kids languages while they’re young and their brains are primed to acquire language, is just so cool. Right off the bat, that was a big part of it for me. I have a pretty extensive background in early childhood education, and I think many families don’t necessarily know that about me. People are always surprised by my language background, too.
Ms. Brown is great at her current job but says she would love to grow at TNCS as well. She has considered going to graduate school to become a teacher like her mom, who was a public school elementary art teacher for 35 years in Iowa, and some other family members. “I feel like I come by it honestly,” she laughed. She is also interested in the administrative side of schools, though, so her future path could take more than one fork.
One thing about Ms. Brown is her naturally welcoming demeanor—she’s perfect for her job as long as it fulfills her. She makes TNCS veterans, newcomers, and guests feel comfortable and puts us all at ease, so just what makes her tick? “I love music and going to concerts. I love being outside in nature, especially walking. I call myself an ‘urban hiker’ because I walk all over town, including my 2 1/2 mile walk into work every day. I’m definitely also a social butterfly. Oh, and I love to cook. For me, a perfect day would be getting together with 8 to 10 friends, making dinner, and eating it outside.” As for her cooking style, she likes to experiment and try new things and especially enjoys world cuisines.
I want to share my perspective as a midwestern gal, dropped right into the big city here: It has been really fun. I really like the culture of Baltimore, so I feel like a Baltimorean already. I love the arts scene; I love the music. I like the ‘Smaltimore scene’ with everybody knowing each other. That’s more akin to where I grew up, and so I appreciate that sense of community here. It’s a cultural value that people share here, to be neighborly with each other. Obviously, I was aware of its challenges when I was moving here, but I think there’s a tendency to focus on the negatives about Baltimore, and I believe we need a new story. I see people being kind to each other and helping each other all the time, and I think that’s really what makes Baltimore special.
Baltimore—not to mention TNCS—is lucky to have you, Hannah Brown!