Ridgewood Roundup

Tom Akers

Charlie Brown Hangs Up His Tools

It would be hard to find a house in Cambridge that didn’t have something Cambridge Industrial Arts Teacher Charlie Brown’s hands haven’t touched. Brown is retiring after thirty three years of teaching students how to work with their hands in the Industrial Arts Program.

Brown is a graduate of AlWood High School where his guidance counselor laid down the gauntlet for him his junior year. “I told him I wanted to go into teaching, he tried to convince me I should go into the service. He didn’t feel I was ready for a four year college.”

Luckily his Industrial Arts teacher Brian Hall was an inspiration for Brown to follow in his footsteps, “Mr. Hall was a perfectionist, but would coach you up to reach his expectations.” Brown shared. Hall was also the reason he went to the University of Wisconsin Stout.

Family was a very important reason Brown went into teaching too. His mother encouraged him to follow his passion for building and for teaching. “She always supported my decision as to what career path to follow.” Brown has been married to his wife Denise for almost 18 years, has three children and eight grandchildren some of whom he has had as students in his classroom.

Brown was hired in Cambridge as a part time instructor where he worked for five years building up the number of students in his program until the district made his position full time. An accomplishment he is, and should be proud of.

He lists the lifelong connection with students as his top memory he will take with him from Cambridge Schools. “These past few years I have begun to have second and third generation students, it always makes me feel good when they tell me how much their parents or grandparents enjoyed my class.”

Coaching football and track also stood out to Brown. He coached football and track for twenty five of his thirty three years. One of the highlights of his coaching career was getting to walk the sidelines with his former mentor Brian Hall. The two coached football together. Brown cites coaching as one of the best ways he was able to connect with his students as well as their parents. Brown cites a classic phrase to summarize his memories in athletics, “coaching allowed me the opportunity to share with so many athletes the “thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.”

The influence he has had on his Industrial Arts students is Brown’s final memory from teaching. “I’ve watched so many of my students who have taken the building blocks I gave them and go on to pursue careers in engineering or in the trades. I am very proud of having a hand in introducing them to this field and love to hear what they’ve gone on and done with that knowledge.”

Brown lists the State’s intrusion in education as one of the downsides of his career. Whether it is unfunded mandates or the years of cuts in funding, both stand out to Brown as having impeded him from doing his job. The other downside was watching some of his students make poor choices. “I tried to teach all my students that life has both choices, and consequence. It was hard for me to watch some of my students make poor choices and have to learn things the hard way.”

Charlie Brown has a list for his retirement plan. Top on it is to spend a lot more time with his wife of eighteen years Denise as well as the couple’s dog Scruffy. He also wants to get his own shop at home up and running. Finally, and most importantly, he wants to enjoy life at a “slightly slower pace.”

Jaerv Performs in Cambridge

Three fifths of the award winning Swedish group Jaerv performed in College Square Park in Cambridge on Monday, June 20th. Two members of the quintet were delayed due to visa issues however the show goes on and it was quite a show with just the trio. The event was sponsored by a grant written by John Taylor.

Jaerv focuses on Swedish folk music with an influence of both jazz and pop music. They have toured the United States, Japan, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, Finland, and Norway among other countries. The three members put on a 90 minute concert for the crowd of almost 200 people.

Three members of the Swedish Quintent, Jaerv perform at a free concert in Cambridge Monday, June 20th.