ITHACA, NY – While his brother Dustin Brown is making a big impact in the NHL, former IHS teacher Brandon Brown is making a big impact on the minds of his students.

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Brandon Brown was recently awarded the “Charter School Teacher of the Year” by the state of North Carolina, where he has taught for three years out of his 11-year teaching career.

Brown, 33, was born and raised in Ithaca. After attaining his masters degree from SUNY Cortland, he returned to his hometown where he taught United States history for several years, as well as serving as assistant coach to the varsity boys lacrosse team.

Colleen Ledley, who was Brown’s mentor and inspiration flew from Ithaca to North Carolina to join the celebration. Ledley was a former IHS teacher, then assistant principal – Brown took over her class when she was promoted. She now serves as principal at Lansing High.

Many of Brown’s family members also flew in for the ceremony.

Brandon Brown (3rd from right) stands with family and his former mentor, Lansing High principal Colleen Ledley (3rd from left). (Photo: Lake Norman Charter Yearbook)

Students, colleagues praise Brown

The praise from Brown’s students and colleagues is glowing. Asked to say a few words on their experience with Brown, some gushed for multiple paragraphs.

“Students in Brown’s class don’t want to take a break to go to the bathroom, because they are afraid they’ll miss something,” said Elizabeth Padgett during the ceremony, per a report by the Charlotte Observer. Padgett had won the award the year prior.

Another colleague, Danielle Derwich, wrote up a 13-point list praising Brown, describing him as “hardworking,” “profound,” and “the best teacher at Charter by far.”

Olivia Hicks, a former student who warmly refers to the teacher as “BBrown,” said she almost demanded a schedule change when she found out she wasn’t in his class this year.

“Mr. Brown is the most influential teacher I have ever had, and honestly one of the most impactful individuals I have ever met in my life,” Hicks wrote. She went on to praise Brown for the way he combines history with contemporary political issues, which she said gave students like her a greater cultural awareness.

Brown told the Charlotte Observer the simple philosophy that won him the award: “Kids are kids, don’t forget that. Try to remember what it feels like to be a kid. It helps you build a rapport.”

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.