Brown receives Teacher of the Year award

Nicole Brown is pictured with Principal Brett Bitterman, left, and Superintendent Rebecca Stone, right.

By Amanda Duchsherer
Digital Communication Specialist

Lake Havasu, Ariz. – Nicole (Luther) Brown shouldn’t have been surprised when she received her 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year award.

She had been preparing for the role her whole life.

“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a teacher,” the 2006 elementary education graduate said. “My mom’s friends were teachers, and they’d give me their old textbooks and workbooks. The basement storage room was all set up as my classroom. I had two desks and even one of those old-fashioned curtains that you pulled up and down for my overhead projector. My mom did daycare, so I was always helping her with the children.

“I was always playing school, and I was always the teacher.”

Yet, receiving the Teacher of the Year distinction at Oro Grande Classical Academy in the Lake Havasu Unified School District, in Lake Havasu, Arizona, still caught her off guard.

“They pulled me out of class and gave me the award in front of the campus with the superintendent,” she said. “I had no idea. My family was all there, hiding, which was so nice because my grandma was in town, too.”


Brown’s family ties run through her life story as much as her evolution from playing teacher to becoming one, including the move from her hometown of Minot following graduation.

“I wanted to go somewhere in Arizona, because my dad attended college there,” she said. “He was trying to get me here, so then my mom would follow, then we all would come.”

Eventually the family did follow Brown.

“My dad’s now here, and my sister ended up moving here after my mom passed, so we’re all together now,” she said. “I’m married with two kids, and my sister has a kid, so all the cousins are together. My aunt bought a house down here, so my grandparents, well, now my grandma, come down here as snowbirds, too.”

It was part grandpa Wes Luther — longtime MSU athletic director, coach, professor, and alumnus — and part location that led Brown to Minot State.

“My grandpa was obviously a huge advocate for Minot State, first as a coach and then as the athletic director, so I just knew I was going to go there,” she said. “And, it was home.

I know a lot of people want to leave home when they graduate high school, but I never wanted to do that. I got to stay home for four years and be with my parents.”

In Arizona, the third-grade teacher brings the lessons she learned in Minot to her classroom.

“I tell people this all the time, I’m the teacher I am today because of where I was educated,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of turnover here, just within the district. And you learn where people are from, and it seems like everyone who is from this area — and there are a few of us from Minot State — we stay, are successful, and do really well.”

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Published: 05/17/21   

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