Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 by Raluca Besliu
Jalen Brown, 18, the National Vice-President of the Future Educators Association (FEA) and the founder of the Student Ambassador Association (SAA), aims to provide resources and guidance to students all over the United States.
The recent graduate of Maple Heights High School in Maple Heights, Ohio became involved with FEA, an organization whose goal is to encourage recruitment and development of students who wish to pursue the teaching profession. The Association uses various programs and research, including class called the Teacher’s Academy course, taught by the FEA-Ohio chapter advisor Melissa Jacot.
As a member of FEA-Ohio, Jalen competed at the state level in competitions, such as lesson planning, preparing speech, ethical dilemma, and had the opportunity to run for State FEA Officer. He was selected as the State Vice-President of FEA where he was instrumental in planning and co-hosting the state competition. He also represented FEA-Ohio at the FEA National Conference in Orlando Florida. Jalen and his fellow officers presented a break out session on bullying. They called it “Stop the Bull.” As his term was approaching its end, he decided to run for FEA National Officer and was selected as the International FEA Vice-President. As Vice President, Jalen serves as an ambassador for inspiring Future Educators from all across the United States and seven territories. He has met with many education official in the United States Congress, United States Department of Education, CCSSO, and more. Jalen and his fellow officers will also begin to develop and prepare to host the National Conference in Minnesota.
During his Teacher’s Academy class, Jalen was allowed to go to all his district’s elementary schools and high school to do student teaching, classroom assisting, behavior observation, and receive mentoring from “master educators.”
Jalen decided to teach at the middle school level, because he believed that “if students are impacted in a powerful, meaningful, and engaging way at that stage in their development that those students will enter high school and the real world better prepared, knowledgeable about reality, and be able to apply learned content in everyday life.”
He taught everything from science and math to child development and Spanish. Teaching was an important learning experience for him, where he learned that “all students learn at different intervals and they each bring fresh ideas or something different to the table. I have learned that students need to have room to grow and mature because that’s exactly what learning is.”
The young change-maker is also the founder of the Student Ambassador Association (SAA) in his high school, aiming to encourage school academics, to change U.S. schools environment/stigma, and ultimately to give back to students who would eventually come after him and his classmates. This past academic year, the SAA implemented a career day, a black history program, pilot programs with local colleges and ensured mentors to the freshman class to get them started with high school on the right track by informing them of things that Jalen and his peers would have been better off knowing as freshmen. The SAA has received great reviews and will be running its second year of programming.
Jalen believes that the trajectory of his personal development was fundamentally shaped by his involvement in the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland (B&GCC) at a very young age. The Club was the first to allow him to release his full potential. Jalen recalls: “I was homeless, I lacked self-confidence, and I didn’t look at education as a real value. I was surrounded by lots of negativity in the community as well. The B&GCC provided me with a safe haven, somewhere I could go after school and be free. I could learn more than what I was getting out of school, get involved in positive recreation, and establish a network of friendships that would last a lifetime. The club gave me my starting voice, and inspired me to make a difference in others’ lives as the B&GCC did for me. “
The young changemaker considers that one of his greatest personal accomplishments so far has been graduating as class Valedictorian and President. However, in terms of professional achievements, he believes that he still has more work to do, before being able to boast about anything. In terms of challenges, Jalen has dealt with financial hardships in the past, as he comes from a family of seven children, with his mother as the only breadwinner. He proudly reveals that his mother has tried her best to provide for all of them, teaching Jalen and his siblings never to give up hope and continue to better themselves.
In term of his upcoming plans, Jalen mentions that he intends to extend FEA at the college level with the help of FEA’s Director, Dan Brown. He also wants to develop different chapters of SAA throughout the country, while pursuing his education and personal development at Miami University of Oxford, where he will study Childhood Education and Business Management.
When giving advice to other young entrepreneurs, Jalen suggests: “Fight for what you believe in. The world is vast with its many problems but it’s when people like us, who try to make a difference that matters most. It will take one of us to find a cure for cancer, yet the cure will help millions of individuals. Our small imprints on the world may seem insignificant, but if one is helped, the job is done. A good trick to making a difference is to find and model after someone who has done it before. ‘Strive to be better than whoever you look up to, and one day someone will look up to you.’”
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