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A learning experience

Among national security responsibilities, economic planning and health-care reform work, President Barack Obama took some time recently to honor Sand Creek Middle School teacher James Brown for excellence in teaching math.

Brown was given the President's Award for Excellence in Washington, D.C., along with 100 other science, math and engineering teachers, during a Jan. 4-7 visit, according to information from the South Colonie Central School district.

He said his love of education contributed to getting the award.

I really thrive on the learning, Brown said.

He was named a recipient in July, but during the January trip, he participated in a number of professional development, tourist and recreational activities.

For the first five years of his teaching career, Brown said he did a lot of moving around, and each year faced a number of major changes.

He spent time as a math and science teacher, and now works in academic intervention services, but said during his first five years teaching he spent a lot of time asking questions, which ultimately shaped the type of teacher he is today.

"That really forced me to be seeking help from others," he said. "There are many different ways to teach and many different ways work."

He said sitting in on other teacher's classes, especially when he started teaching math, helped him a great deal. He cited Tristian Kisling at Sand Creek as one teacher who helped show him how to teach math, a subject he knew well but did not have much experience teaching.

Brown also spends a lot of time in professional development, which allows him to grow as a teacher, he said.

A major highlight of the trip was "just getting to speak to so many people who are influential in government," Brown said. "A big plus for me was meeting all these people who are very accomplished in education."

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