Five on your Side is committed to highlighting the people who are doing good in our community. Shirley Brown, or Downtown Shirley Brown as some call her, has transformed the St. Louis Public School District using her passion for education and her love for seeing students succeed.
Shirley Brown’s kind smile and sweet voice has filled the hallways of the St. Louis Public School District for over 40 years!
Brown smiled, "It’s been a win, win for me. I love it and I’ll do it as long as I can."
Shirley started as a teacher back in the early 70's.
"To be a good teacher, you have to love children and they have to know that you love them," she said.
She took a little break from teaching to raise her two boys with her husband Charlie Brown. But her passion came calling once again, this time in administration. Where she likely made her biggest impact.
Shirley had a hand in launching The Saturday Scholars program which partners high school seniors with Washington University's School of Medicine.
The program started in the early 80’s and gives students a rare opportunity to learn more about science and medicine. It’s teaching students they can do anything. A reality Shirley didn't have.
"When I was coming out of high school and college the only thing I knew how to do as a woman of color was to be a teacher, a nurse or a social worker," she explained.
"It’s opened up my eyes to things I could have done differently," She said.
She also started another partnership between the city and county schools bringing students of all walks of life together to work on a PSA project.
The winner has their public service announcement air on Five On Your Side.
It’s been a long road for Shirley. She even retired at one point, but guess what, she came back.
Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools Dr. Kelvin Adams said, "probably every principal in the district over the last 15 to 20 years knows who Shirley Brown is. They know her name. She calls they respond. They may not respond to me sometimes but they respond to her because they know what she's about. She’s about giving out kids opportunity."
Audrey Jackson is an administrator in the school district and is slated to take over for Shirley when she does eventual step away. Jackson says, "Shirley Brown is the ultimate. She is the energizer bunny. She has an abundance of love, passion and energy for doing things correctly. Doing things right for the children of St. Louis Public Schools."
When I asked Shirley if she ever gets tired of giving so much she replied, “Physically exhausted yes. But the passion never wains, the commitment never wains, the zeal never wains."