Farewell Letter to Orchard | Deb Brown - 43 Years

My Orchard Journey

I graduated from Butler University in 1977 with a B.S. in zoology. I worked at the Woodstock Country Club while I pursued my master's in botany, and I was awarded an internship at the Indianapolis Zoo in their education department. My job was to visit every IPS second grade classroom with my buddies Ghost, a gray cockatiel, Sweetie, a lop-eared bunny, and Crusher, the 6-foot Burmese python. I enjoyed it so much I switched my master's program to secondary education.

The Call
In the spring of 1978, one of my professors called to see if I would consider a permanent sub position at The Orchard Country Day School. The current science teacher was moving out west; I said yes. I also said yes when Gordon Thompson offered me the job full time. I was the only science teacher at the school, teaching 7/8 science classes as well as 9th-grade biology. Soon I was joined by Diana Shellhaas at the 5/6 level and Linda Prell grades 1-4. Together, the “Science Sisters” conspired to create one of the first scope-and-sequence maps for science. Today with we have a dedicated math/science person at nearly every grade level including my friend Vicky P.

Professional Growth
Orchard has given me so many incredible learning opportunities. It has always been a magical place, and for a long time, I couldn’t articulate why. When Charlie Clark became the head of school, he took me on an educational journey, and I became a better teacher because of it. Continued development in my subject matter, progressive education, constructiveness methodologies, advisory program, equity training, conflict management, personality type, responsive classroom, and partnerships with schools around the world were made available to me. I also came to understand, and benefit from, serving as the school’s representative to our private school state organization IAIS, as well as the regional association ISACS. And just as importantly, I have had the wonderful opportunity to make angel wings, choreograph dance numbers for the middle-school musical, tap maple trees, travel to Washington, D.C. countless times, and help the 8th-grade girls and moms with headdresses for the maypole dance. This list could go on and on. These memories of Orchard will live with me forever.

Friends, Family, Colleagues, Students
I have worked with and been inspired by many great people from the Orchard community. I met one of my best friends, Marcia Fidler. I met my husband Mike, and my sons all benefited from an Orchard education. Currently, I have the wonderful 8th-grade team, my coach Lisa Pryor, my classroom-mate and former student Brendan Chandler, my co-advisor Andre Kirtz, and my extraordinary teaching partner Ryan Mossakowski enriching my daily life on so many levels. I am deeply thankful for all the former and current teachers and students who have made this school the amazing place it is.

The decision to retire was a hard one for me, but I am finally ready. Orchard truly educates not only the whole child but the whole adult, too. I will forever be an owl, and I will be forever grateful for it. For me, it was the path well chosen.

“To Orchard School my heart is true…”

Deb Hight Underwood Brown 

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