- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Virginia Brown — better known as Ginger — is a doer.
She is compelled to help, to pitch in, to volunteer.
And when her children are involved in something, she’ll likely be right behind them.
“If they’re willing to do it, I’ll be there,” Brown said.
That’s how she wound up becoming the parent sponsor of T.C. Martin Elementary School’s Lego Robotic League.
Her daughter Ryann, 11 — who has started showing traits like her mom’s and likes to get involved in a slew of activities — was a member of the team.
Brown had no background in robotics, but that wasn’t going to hold her back.
She has been a Girl Scout leader at Martin since Ryann was a kindergartner.
The school is like a home away from home for the Brown family, which includes husband Steve and son Logan, 8 (oldest son Zackary Dove-Brown, 18, lives in Virginia) — that is if they’re not on the baseball and softball diamonds of Hughesville.
“I like to make a difference, even if it’s a little bit,” Brown said. “I never thought it meant anything to anybody.”
Brown was named the Charles County semifinalist in the Maryland Parent Involvement Matters Award program, which was created to recognize parents who have made contributions to public education and made a positive impact on schools.
Brown, who is the vice president and office manager of a Clinton-based painting company, is a dynamo who can usually be found at T.C. Martin before heading to work and right after, said Martin Principal Gregory Miller.
During a recent end-of-year celebration for fifth-graders at the Bryantown school, Brown was all over the place, Miller said.
“She was helping out, running around. Organizing kickball games, taking pictures, holding the stick for the limbo contest,” he said. “I don’t even have to ask ... she comes up with solutions to how to make things better.”
“I’m not one to say ‘no,’” Brown said.
Miller is preparing to see less of one of his most active parent volunteers when Brown splits her time between T.C. Martin and John Hanson Middle School where Ryann will start sixth grade.
Brown still will volunteer at the elementary school as Logan becomes more involved with student council and other activities, but she is looking forward to new challenges.
Like the Lego leagues. Brown wasn’t familiar with robotics, but now she coaches the Nature’s Fury team, schedules practices and meetings, recruits parents and supports team members. Brown also helps out with Lego clubs made up of third- and fourth-graders.
“She taught herself three different robotic programming languages to assist students in three grades participating in three distinct competitions,” Michelle Reeves, a science teacher at T.C. Martin who is the lead teacher sponsor for the robotics club, wrote in an email.
Brown loves seeing the students as excited about learning as she is.
If the parents and teachers are excited about a project, “The kids feed off of it,” she said. “It’s amazing to watch what kids can do.”
“In my 20 years as a teacher, I have never met a parent so selflessly driven to enhance the lives of children as if they were her own,” wrote Reeves in a PIMA nomination letter.
“Teachers know I’m willing to step up and I’m going to get it done, it’s going to happen,” Brown said.
She said she knows that time is at a premium for families, but she also knows that if the desire is there, the time will be found.
“We always have the time for things when we want to do them,” Brown said. “I’d like to see more [parent involvement]. There’s so much more Martin can offer.”
Ryann and Logan are active in sports, too. That means uniforms are in the car, the kids have learned to be quick-change artists and grabbing dinner on the run.
“We believe in letting them be well-rounded,” said Brown of she and her husband encouraging their kids to develop interests.
“It’s crazy, but it’s fun,” said Brown, who credits her parents Patrick and Virginia Kreamer with instilling in her a “go get ’em” attitude.
“It’s rewarding just seeing what you can offer people,” Brown said.