By Meg Dickens
Betty Brown is a dedicated woman who has devoted her life to helping children. She is a proud mother to Johnson County Middle School coach and teacher, Matthew Bray, and grandmother to Luke. Brown spends her free time volunteering and spending as much time as possible with her grandson.
Volunteer work is in her blood. Her father was a firefighter, her mother was a volunteer nurse, and her family encouraged volunteer work as a whole. Her family’s example is what inspired Brown to focus on volunteer work and education. She grew up learning to “always be involved and give back.”
While she did not grow up here, Brown says that Mountain City “became home.” Brown moved to Mountain City from Damascus, Virginia in 1985 to teach at Johnson County Middle School. She taught and coached several teams including the volleyball and cheerleading teams. She advanced quickly and soon became assistant principal. Brown worked for Central Office as a supervisor for 7/12 (middle school through high school education) and tech coordinator before returning to the hill. This time she became the principal of Johnson County High School, which would be her last stop before retiring in 2007.
Brown continues to be an example for many. She is an active advocate and co-chair of the Johnson County Imagination Library which is a subdivision of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in association with the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation. This program focuses on making sure that every child has the means and opportunity to enjoy reading. Brown was turned on to the program through a brief stint of working as a Homebound teacher.
Brown has a personal motto she associates with the Imagination Library, “you are a star being just the way you are.” “Every child needs to feel special and successful,” Brown said. “Literacy is a strong foundation that effects the rest of a child’s life.” She also bases her mindset on the children’s book The Little Engine that Could and refers to Johnson County as “the little county that could.”
“Children taught me so much about unconditional love, perseverance, and grace,” she said. “This community reminds me how important it is to be involved in your children’s lives.”
Brown advocates learning how not to judge a book by its cover. There is little doubt; The world looks a little brighter through Betty Brown’s eyes.