Brown finds STEM job in China

Coach and teacher Joe Brown has been teaching in the Cedar Falls School District for seven years, and he recently announced that he will be leaving Cedar Falls this July and moving to China.

“I have always wanted to travel, visit other cultures and why wait until I am retired. I am ready for a change,” Brown said. Brown who has no family connections in China, is purely moving for an adventure.

In China, Brown will be teaching at an immersion school ( similar to an international school). He will be taking a step back from his usual field and will be dipping his toes in the STEM field while working with another teacher. “I will not be a math teacher because the students will have a traditional Chinese math teacher. I will be paired with a science teacher and create a Math STEM course,” Brown said.

Throughout his years at the high school, Brown has touched many lives of students, athletes and teachers. “Mr. Brown has engaged in the life of our school by engaging with students in both the classroom and athletic settings. Mr. Brown has demonstrated passion for both his content area as well as his experiences with swimming and running. We wish him the very best as he moves forward with this new opportunity,” Principal Jason Wedgbury said.

Even though the high school is losing a great teacher and coach, his students and co-workers are excited for Brown to see new adventures and expand his teaching. “I am very excited for Mr. Brown and his new adventure in China.  I think this is an awesome opportunity for him, and I know he is looking forward to a new challenge.  I really admire his willingness to travel across the globe and share his love for students, learning and athletics,” said Shari Neese, a CFHS parent and math teacher.

Replacing Brown will be a long process. “It was a very difficult decision. Cedar Falls has provided me with so many opportunities. I have been able to coach swimming, cross country and track. I created my own geometry course. I have met wonderful colleagues, future scholars and collegiate athletes, each holding a special place with me and making this decision all the more challenging,” Brown said.

Brown has been a cross country coach for the women’s junior high team for three years and the women’s track coach for four years. Those who work with him say Brown is a caring coach and is always one step ahead, thinking about what’s the best for the team and the athletes individually. “He puts everything he has into the kids he is coaching and wants them to do so good, probably more than the kids want it. Which is so awesome,” eighth grader Emma Clark said.

Brown is recognized as a very verbal coach and cheerleader. To one meet he wore a cowboy hat and he yelled to the athletes random words, which they set up ahead of time as a code word for speed up. “He never gives up on helping you and always has an answer to your questions,” eighth grader Noelani Mattson said.

As well as a cross country coach, he has been a men’s swimming coach for seven years and a men’s track coach for two years. One thing that stands out about coach Brown is his passion for sports. “One thing I will miss about Mr. Brown is listening to him recap his races. He has such passion for running. It is very inspiring and motivating to listen to his stories and experiences as a runner. He was either a track or cross country coach for each of my children, and I know they loved his stories and benefited from his knowledge of running too,” Neese said. “Mr Brown doesn’t do anything he isn’t passionate about. He puts in all the effort he can into helping students and athletes improve to meet their potential, even when he is physically and emotionally tired. The success of those he works with drives him,” Scott Bohlmann, Brown’s assistant swim coach, said.

Along with juggling women’s and men’s sports, Brown teaches honors geometry at the high school. In the classroom he doesn’t only teach the students about math; he teaches them how to be good people. “Joe has taught me patience when learning new concept and ideas,” sophomore Lars Christianson said. “His overall attitude helps us understand that doing things for others and not worrying about yourself is what the world needs.”

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