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Educator Spotlight: Meet Laverne Brown

Laverne Brown brings many years of corporate experience to her YE classroom. Teaching is Mrs. Brown’s second career, and she loves sharing her business passion with her students at Skyline High School in Dallas, TX. Get to know Mrs. Brown.

From corporate to education: Laverne graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in Business Administration, as well as her teacher’s certificate in Business Education. After college, she was recruited by AT&T and stepped into her first role as Marketing Manager. Many years later, she took an early retirement from AT&T, concluding her time at AT&T as Human Resources District Manager for a multi-state region. As she progressed in her career, Mrs. Brown became distinctly aware of the need for professional education. “Once you’re in Corporate America, you’re on your own, and I’d managed many people who didn’t have the right development when they were in school,” she says. “I think the education world is where that starts.” 

How she got connected to YE: When Skyline’s principal reached out to Mrs. Brown about the YE program launching in the district, she was immediately intrigued. Mrs. Brown is thankful for her school’s principal, Dr. Janice Lombardi, for bringing her into YE. “The district thought I would be a good fit for it, and I went to training and loved it,” she says. Now in her second year teaching YE, Mrs. Brown is excited to build on the great success of the 2016-17 year. “My students did very well, and they were excellent,” she smiles. “They’ve already been back this year asking if they could take a second year of YE!” 

Pinpointing passion: Integral to Mrs. Brown’s approach is helping students identify their passion. “That’s what drives everything we do in YE. I’ve talked to each student individually about passion — and even in the eleventh grade, many students don’t think they have a passion.” Investing time in discovering what they love helps propel them to success, Mrs. Brown says. “I’ve always had a passion for business and I followed that passion. I’ve always enjoyed my work. I stress to my students that they need to identify their passion early in life. Your passion shapes the life you live: you want to be happy at work and happy at home.”

Most memorable mindset shift moment: Market Day was the moment when students understood the importance of teamwork in being successful. “Most of our students understand the concepts of profit and money, but don’t realize that in order to be successful, it takes a team. Their mindset shift moment was seeing the success that a team can create. They worked on a product together as a team, shared ideas, produced their product and brought it to closure in Market Day. It taught them how to cooperate, how to compromise, how to make decisions together, how to negotiate . . . these are skills you can use in Board meetings someday. I’m very proud of them!” The day was memorable for Mrs. Brown as well. “I felt more gratification after that Market Day than anything I achieved in Corporate America. I was so proud of them!”

How she defines “entrepreneur” for her students: “I define an entrepreneur as a person who not only goes out and seeks opportunities, but creates opportunities for themselves,” Mrs. Brown says. “Entrepreneurs seek to solve a problem that betters themselves and betters others. Entrepreneurs make sure to help others in the process.”

YE equips students to overcome obstacles. A great obstacle she overcame: Mrs. Brown’s first role at AT&T was Marketing Manager, which put her in the field visiting corporations, selling and talking about marketing needs. Her hard work and diligence paid off and, just two years into the job, she was promoted to leadership. “This new team consisted of 75 people, I was in my early 20s and more than half of them were in their 50s or older! It was quite a challenge for me. But I treated everyone the way they wanted to be treated. I told everyone on my team that I was there to support them with whatever they needed, and I always work just as hard as anyone who works for me. I always tried to encourage my team.” Mrs. Brown’s team went on to become one of the most productive teams in her area. “In Corporate America, they put you in situations to prove yourself — I guess I passed!”

If her students remember just one lesson from YE, it’s this: Mrs. Brown wants her students to always remember the eight Youth Entrepreneurs Foundational Values — responsibility, knowledge, passion, sound judgment, be principled, freedom, opportunity and win-win focus. “I want them to remember our Foundational Values, particularly to always have passion for what they are doing and to have compassion for others. I get emotional when I think about it . . . I always had a passion for what I did and compassion for others. That’s the key to success. It’s not about how intelligent you are, but about how you treat others.”