Beloved Grade Chair Leaving Westminster, Moving to Italy


Shea Pettit

After five years of teaching at Westminster, including two years of serving as 6th-grade boys’ Grade Chair, Gary Brown decides to move to Italy for a new job.

Mr. Brown currently teaches math and will continue doing so at this new school. “I’m going to be teaching 6th and 7th-grade math at an American school in Rome, Italy,” says Brown. “It’s a small school, so I’m going to be the only 6th-grade math teacher and the only 7th-grade math teacher, so it’s very different than Westminster.” Teaching at this new school will be a big adjustment because of this size difference. Brown will have to go from teaching at a school with about 200 students per grade to about 50.

This is Brown’s second year as Grade Chair, which he has enjoyed doing very much. “I’ve loved being a grade chair, talking to the parents, mentoring kids, supporting kids, and all that has probably been my favorite role that I’ve had at Westminster as Grade Chair,” says Brown. He has also loved working with the faculty and learning from the leaders at this school. He says that the one thing that he will miss most about Westminster is the relationships he has built with the students, staff, and parents.

Before working at Westminster, Brown and his family lived and worked abroad. “Last time we lived in Singapore, which is exactly halfway around the world. It’s a 24-hour flight and so only one person visited us while we were there,” says Brown. “For Rome, we’ve already got 12 members of our family who are already planning to come to visit us and stay with us.” Brown looks forward to having friends and family visit more than they were able to when they lived in Singapore.

Susan McMillan, 6th-grade girls’ Grade Chair, has loved working with Brown. “There’s no human being on the planet who is more gifted at understanding the student and where they are in their development,” says McMillan. “He is remarkable at meeting every kid where they are, whether they’re an eighth-grader or whether they’re a sixth-grader. Even when he was teaching I recognized that, but as a Chair, he is so focused on what I think is the most important thing, which is developing the child as a learner and as a human being.”

With Brown leaving, the school will have to find someone to replace him as Grade Chair. However, this is a difficult position to replace. “This is a job that’s hard to describe because they’re so many facets of it,” says McMillan. “It’s just helping that new person understand what is expected, and what we need to be doing, especially in 6th grade, because we’re really helping those parents understand what their child is going through. We’re really helping the students figure out where they need to be and we also have to help the teachers understand the students more.” As of now, Westminster has not decided who will be replacing Brown next year as Grade Chair.

Westminster families, faculty, and students all wish Brown well at his new job and will miss him in his absence.