When Mary Ann Brown came to work at Helper Middle School (then junior high) many of the students who she now works with have parents that weren’t even in junior high yet themselves. That was in 1990, and Brown, who has been an integral part of the faculty at the school for so long, is leaving the school, retiring to seek new adventures.
“I have loved working here,” she said. “The kids, the faculty have been wonderful over the years. But it is time for me to make a change.”
Principal Robert Bradley said that he is happy for her but that the school will miss her a great deal.
“It is with a touch of sadness that we bid farewell to MaryAnn,” he said. “She has really made the library at HMS what it is today by getting the books the students want to read and helping to inspire them to try new things. More than that she has had the unique opportunity to affect the lives of students like no other. She has gone above and beyond any assigned duties and has created a safe haven for students that has been
relied upon by many including my own children. Her years of dedicated service have left a legacy that will continue for many years and for that we are grateful.”
Brown, who grew up in Holladay on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley, never suspected when she was younger she would be living in Carbon County, and that this area would become home.
“My husband, Kevin and I moved to Ferron in 1980, where my husband worked for Utah Power and Light, and from there we moved to Kemmerer, Wyoming, then back to Salt Lake, then to Milford, then back to Ferron and then to Price. And this is where we call home.”
She said it was fun and an adventure living in so many different places.
“You know I think I might be ready to move again,” she stated with a spark in her voice. “Or at least we will be snowbirds.”
With three children and seven grandchildren in Utah she said they would never go away and stay away. Despite the moves and coming to the area from Salt Lake, her family does have deeper roots in Carbon County than just coming here for a job. Her Grandmother grew up in Carbonville and her father was born in Carbon County, but moved to California at a young age.
He would come to Carbonville during the summers from California to stay with Aunts and Uncles when he was a kid, until he served in the Coast Guard. My parents never dreamed that three of their children would live in Carbon and Emery Counties.”
Brown began working at Helper as a “six pack aide” where she would be in the classes with six students each day and spend one period a day helping these students with their homework and prepare for tests. She said she remembers one youngster in particular who wouldn’t take notes in class. She asked him to take notes, but he said he remembered everything and didn’t need to take notes. “This young man is very successful today at a major bank in Utah. The kids I have worked with here hold a special place in my heart,” she said with a bit of a crackling voice. “It is going to be hard leaving these students.”
She said her husband always reminds her of the effect she has had on the kids’ lives while working at the school. She gets invited to many kinds of events ranging from weddings to graduations.
“They are interviewing people for my job today,” she said as she sat at her desk in the library. “That feels a little strange. I have loved not only working with the kids but also associating with and helping the faculty and staff. This is the best place to work.”
She said watching kids grow and being with them at activities, sporting events and even sometimes away from school field trips has added so much to her life.
“I have watched kids come into the school being very reluctant readers,” she said. “I have always encouraged them to read and a lot of those reluctant readers, leave being avid readers.”
She said she wanted the library to be a welcoming place for students to be. In the morning before school starts she has all kinds of activities for students to do from being on computers to doing puzzles. She also noted over the years school libraries have changed a great deal, particularly in the area of carrying non-fiction books. “The students don’t use non-fiction books like they used to. They generally do their research online.” She stated.
In addition to running the library she also has been the school newspaper
adviser as well as the technology specialist.
Former Helper Principal and now District Administrator Mika Salas took some time to talk about Brown and her impact on education at the school.
“MaryAnn Brown has always been a wonderful, valued member of the Helper Middle School family for many, many years,” said Salas. “If you talk to any of our students, both past and present, they would tell you they were greated with a smile every time she talked to them. They will tell you how she helped them make their science fair projects better, she encouraged them to do their best while working in the library, she cheered them on at their sporting events and she gave them a safe and welcoming place to hang
out before school. They may also mention all the years she helped with track meets and wrestling tournaments. Certainly they would talk about the book clubs she ran every year and how she inspired so many kids to love recreational reading. Her school newspaper writers would tell you how positive she was and that she always helped anyone who wanted to participate and made sure they felt like valuable members of the group. Although she deserves a very long and happy retirement, she will be sorely
missed. We are all better people for having known and worked with her.”
What plans does Brown have for retirement? She wants to spend more time with her grand kids and with her 92 year old father in Salt Lake, and travel with her husband. But she says part of her heart will always be at Helper Middle School.
“This has been my second home for so many years and I will miss the association with everyone here,” she concluded.
It’s been said many times, “Once a Ram, always a Ram.”