Travis Brown - American Graduate Champion | American Graduate Champions | PBA30

Atlanta Middle School Teacher Really Invests in Students’ Future

by Shelby Lin Erdman • MAR 26, 2016

Atlanta middle school teacher Travis Brown is “special” to his students.

The longtime teacher is celebrating 20 years in the classroom, but that’s not what makes him so “special.” It’s not even his fun way of teaching sixth grade social studies at Sylvan Hills Middle School, which includes fun little jingles to help students learn complex topics, that makes him so “special.”

By all accounts it’s what Travis Brown does for his students outside the classroom to insure that when they get to his class they can focus on learning, according to Sylvan Hills Middle School Principal Artesza Portee.

He just does everything he can to insure that when a student comes in his class he’s removed all barriers so that they can truly learn.

Health can still be fun. It doesn’t have to be this drudgery exercise in this terrible thing

While Brown is a dedicated teacher, who arrives at work early and leaves late, Portee says Brown goes beyond what’s required of a teacher when it comes to helping his students.

“When finances are not readily available for the children, whether it be for class work projects, but even with things such as providing students with clothing items, material supplies with notebooks, paper, pencils, he just does everything he can to insure that when a student comes in his class he’s removed all barriers so that they can truly learn,” Portee explained during an interview with Public Broadcasting Atlanta.

That’s why Travis Brown is not only the Atlanta Public Schools 2015-2016 Middle School Teacher of the Year, he’s also an American Graduate Champion.

Brown, who credits his fourth grade teacher with influencing him to become a teacher, has qualities that make him an outstanding educator, Portee said.

“One of the most important characteristics Mr. Brown possesses is a respect. Each time I talk with one of his students and I ask them why are they so excited and enthusiastic about going to Mr. Brown’s class the first thing they tell me is ‘He cares about us’ or ‘He respects us,’” Portee stated.

“He is very accessible to them,” Portee added.

amgrad_logo.jpg “He allows the students to come during the lunch periods. They’re able to email him and communicate with him for assistance with their homework. So he’s always readily available and willing to assist all of his students.”

One Sylvan Hills students told PBA that Brown is a great teacher because he creates an exciting environment for his students.

“He makes stuff that we learn fun and he doesn’t push us aside and he gives us his full, undivided attention and that’s what makes him special.”

PBA's Atlanta Champions


Scott Allen

"He is such a dedicated teacher who says that he is awed by his students’ creativity and original thought."


Mouhammed Bah

"I think education brings more wealth to being successful than any other thing in life."


Travis Brown

"He just does everything he can to insure that when a student comes in his class he’s removed all barriers so that they can truly learn."


Atia Butts

"You always want to have the mindset of succeeding and if you know the people around you are not going down that path then do your best to be nice, be cordial, but distance yourself from those".

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Kim Bearden

"No child should ever be allowed to be invisible in a classroom."

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Barry Blackmon

"I use a lot of different methods and try to mix my own type of gumbo within the classroom, such as discipline and humor."


Meria Carstarphen

"We really want parents to help us get children in school, on time, every single day and that starts with getting up and making sure they can get out of the house on time, into the bus or walking to school."

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Ron Clark

"We’re trying to lift the spirits of our students so they’ll be excited and they’ll be eager to learn."


Megan Gilroy

"Health can still be fun. It doesn’t have to be this drudgery exercise in this terrible thing."


Dave Howland

"Literally every single grade a kid gets in high school has an impact on their future trajectory. So making sure that that’s a big piece, helps them stay on track to graduate."


Kesha Payne

"Every decision you make, keep students first. I say communicate clearly with parents and administrators. I say collaborate effectively with your colleagues and keep students top of mind."


Immanuel Reed

"When I was a kid, being a part of a program like this helped me tremendously, and I think that me doing the same thing for others, giving them chances, giving them the opportunity to make the best decisions, it’s full circle for me."


Dan Sims

"The hope is in the school house and we hold a primary place in inspiring kids to look beyond this time frame."


Amber Stewart

"The success of a student hinges on the teacher that’s standing in front of that classroom and hinges on the school leader that’s running that school."


Darryl Terry

"As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out."


Stuart Thorn

"We’ve been able to take the graduation rate for this cohort of kids up from probably what would have been in the neighborhood of five to 15 percent up to now above 85 percent."


Dennis Tolliver

"He captures his students’ attention and they hold on to every word that he says because they know what he gives will truly benefit their lives."

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Jayongela Wilder

"There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a kid that you taught graduate from college."