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World Mag > WM Winter 2013 edition > Interview with Monica Brown

Interview with Monica Brown

AISB teacher
Monica Brown Center
Monica Brown Center

WM: Mrs. Brown, you have been working at AISB since 2001, so you have been at the school for over 12 years. Please tell us some differ- ences between then and now.

MB: Back then, the sense of a small community was quite strong; back then I knew everybody, now, given the size of our school, this is impossible. Our community is larger now and smaller groups are created easily. The secondary school was downtown in a beautiful historical building and a separate elementary building was somewhere else in Bucharest. Now we are together on a wonderful big new campus on the outskirts of Bucharest. The middle school and high school had one principal together, while the elementary school had another one. Now we have 4 principals, two for elementary and one each for middle and high school. Back then, teachers used to go to a café for lunch, now we have a modern cafeteria, where we can enjoy each other’s company (even if sometimes it gets too loud!) Downtown we did not have a bunker, now we do! Do you know what this is? An anti-atomic space which sup- posedly will protect the people... It is used for storage now... Hahaha Our assemblies used to be on the stairs of this old building; now we hold our cultural events in a chic modern theater.

WM: What makes AISB special? How come you decided to stay at AISB for so long? 

MB: AISB is what makes AISB special. It is composed of special people, from students to parents to teachers to all the support staff.
It is always a wonder for me how such an eclectic group of people, from all over the world, with so many di erent cultures and traditions, can come together and create a wonderful small world, in which everybody has a strong sense of belonging and contribution. My Romanian friends would joke with me, saying that our family does not live in Romania, rather in a dream bubble inside Romania. At the end of every year we would ask ourselves as a family if we are staying one more year, and since we could not come up with a strong reason to leave, we always felt we should continue on. Most importantly, our kids were happy and well educated, and this was what mattered most for us as parents.

WM: Tell us about 3 special mo- ments spent at AISB you'll never forget.

MB: September 11, 2001. I just started my rst year of teaching at AISB when I received a call from my husband who was still in the States, telling me to tell our principal what was happening right then in the US. I ran as fast as I could to Chris Muller's o ce. Calmly, the school went home safely. I remember listening to the radio about what was happening and thinking ‘this cannot be real’. Why would anybody even think, not to mention put into action something so disastrous?

January, 2001: When we moved to the new campus, how proud and happy everybody was! We were all together now in our own place! The individual American dream came true as a community!

June 2013: My daughter, Julianne’s, prom night: when she was offered to be the master of ceremonies with Srishti and Serban and I was of- fered the honor to toast in the name of parents! I had the rare opportu- nity to participate in bringing up an entire generation for 12 years in my role as a mother and teacher, to laugh and cry with them, to learn and have fun together, and in the end to see them graduating! I felt like I was graduating once more with them!


WM: Name 5 students you remem- ber most and the reason.

MB: Jessica Kendrick – she was a student in my math class for 3 years consecutively 6th through 8th grade, something that rarely happens at AISB; no idea how this was missed out, but it gave us the opportunity to get to know each other well and to connect with one another. I remem- ber this little girl, hard working but not sure she could do math, and then here I was attending her prom! 

Alex Wallar – he is 2nd on my list not because he was Jessie’s sweetheart during high school and they are still together! How awesome this is! He is second on my list because even though I never taught him, he was my rst Extended Essay advisee in math (really, how many students choose math topics for their es- says?). And one day he asked me if he can prepare a class and teach my 12th graders, while he was in 11th grade! I told him yes, but he has to bring a lesson plan in advance, so we can discuss it. He brought a detailed plan for a week’s worth of classes! And he did it: in an elegant and clear way, he taught a math topic on Logic and the students loved it!


Sebastian Bucur – ‘Buna ziua, do- amna!’ Day in and day out, I would hear these words and knew by the intonation of his voice whether he was in a good mood or not. I was always worried that he might give up for his May exam, but he proved me wrong and I am glad he did: he did so well in his exam, I am still proud of him! 

Raluca Istrate – ‘My heart is pound- ing with happiness when I can nally solve a problem, Miss. Brown!’ 

Diana Marpozan – shy, respectful, extremely bright but humble, beauti- ful girl. It is nothing more reward- ing for a teacher to nd out that one of your students will become a teacher! It feels like “Mission accom- plished!”

Sandra Ciubuc – thank you for con- sidering me more than just a teacher; trusting me to be your con dante and talk life issues beyond math makes our job so rewarding.

I named more than 5, because I was in this school for so long, I think I deserve the exception! It is so di - cult to choose! For all of you whom I could not name here, you are all part of my heart! 

WM: For all these years you have been teaching Secondary School Math and Science. Which subject do you think had most impact on the students and why?

MB: Lately, I’ve taught only Math. Obviously, math is my passion and I believe it has a tremendous impact on each of our lives. Often, students ask: “Miss. B, why do we need math? Quadratics and Integrals?” And here is my answer: Honestly, un- less you follow a technical path, you do not need math. But math is much deeper than just some formulas: it is a way of thinking, which will help you in any situation in life.

When we read and understand the problem, when we discuss a plan to solve it and then we follow the steps to obtain our answer, we actually practice how to solve any issue we have in life, whether it is something small, such as what do we eat to- night to a more complex idea, such as which job o er do I take? You must consider variables and param- eters, you must use abstract to think “what if?” and so on.... And it does take a special type of person to as- sume risks with each problem: will you know how to solve it? Will you feel the adrenaline rush by overcom- ing a challenging problem?

WM: What about your involvement with extracurricular activities? Tell us a little about this. What are some of your favorite memories?

MB: I have been coaching Middle School Girls tennis since it was only one trip for both girls and boys teams and I would travel with Peter Born. During one of my rst trips with him, one of our kids lost the boarding pass and could not board on the return ight home. I remember the thrill of Peter and the student running all over the airport to nd it and me talking with the air ight attendant to hold the plane just for a few more minutes... they found it and got on the plane in the end!

I have been coaching Middle School Knowledge Bowl as well with Mariela Suma. I remember when she asked me if I would be interested in being her assistant coach, I understood «knowledge ball», so I thought of it as a random sports activity and that is why I said yes...

I have coached both activities for all these years. In addition, I was Middle School Student Council advisor, as- sistant coach in basketball, played any sport with high school girls and participated in numerous commit- tees to improve various aspects of our school.

WM: What will you be doing for the holidays and why?

MB: For the holidays... as I am answering this interview, it is the Thanksgiving morning and I am working out an appetite for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends... Being thankful for how lucky I was to be part of such a wonderful community. For Christmas, we always spend it at home with our family and friends. And this year is a special one, as our freshman daughter Julianne comes home from Boston University! What better gift can I wish for?


For New Year's Eve this year we plan to go downtown, to party with the entire city, so if you are in Bucharest, join us!

I wish for everybody in our school to feel happy, healthy and appreci- ate and enjoy what you have! Happy Holidays! 


Read the entire WORLD Magazine Winter 2013 edition here. 

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