GSE Clinical Internships Open Door for Alum

Sean Brown standing his arms crossed outside the GSE

Six years later, Sean Brown still remembers the call with a parent. The mother expected to hear something critical of her child, but Brown was checking in to say how well the student was doing.

“She was crying, and she needed a moment because she was just so moved that in her child’s four years in school, she’d rarely gotten any positive feedback,” Brown recalled, who earned his master’s in elementary education in the elementary and special education program in 2018.

That call, and others like it, taught Brown the importance of maintaining solid relationships with the parents and guardians as well as the students. Brown is currently an elementary special education teacher at North Brunswick Township Public Schools. Families of students in special education can sometimes feel as though the educational system has failed their child, Brown noted. He is proud to be aligned with a district which prioritizes equal access for all, and throughout his career has worked to improve any frayed relationships families may have with their school or district.

Brown gravitated toward teaching after working at a daycare center during college. Connecting with the young students had a deep impact. “Ever since then, I knew this is what I love to do,” Brown, who graduated from Rutgers in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in communications, said.

The GSE appealed to Brown because of its wide variety of classes. “You get your feet wet in all areas,” he said. Rutgers’ status as an R1 research institution was also a plus. “What I love about GSE is that we have an amazing faculty that’s always willing to work with you or talk with you and brings their extensive knowledge to help you better your own practice,” Brown said.

Now in his sixth year of teaching, Brown works at Livingston Park Elementary School in North Brunswick. He started in the district during a field placement in the last semester of his GSE master’s program. That internship led to a full-time job. “I never would have known about it if it wasn’t for that field placement,” Brown said.

Brown knew he wanted to work in behavioral disability and credits a class on the subject with Dr. Matthew J. Mayer, associate professor of educational psychology.

“When I started, I reached out to Dr. Mayer a lot, asking him for feedback on things to do,” Brown said. “Having him as a resource to rely on during that first year, as well as having the foundational background of some basics of emotional regulation through that class was very helpful.”

Brown is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Special Education and Teaching at GSE. He is a research assistant working with Dr. Judith R. Harrison, associate professor of special education. The team is working on making EpicWin, a culturally relevant gamified application for those with ADHD. Brown also earned his supervisor license through GSE and is currently part of GSE’s Principal Endorsement Program.

Looking ahead to GSE’s next 100 years, Brown wants the school to continue doing what it does now, especially by motivating its students. He also hopes it continues to support their career development as he was supported, through networking and partnership opportunities with local districts.

He said, “Teaching is not the most glamorous job, right? You don’t do it for the paycheck, you do it for the students and your love for learning. So, my wish is that the GSE continues to inspire future educators around the world to showcase their own love for learning and educate thousands of kids moving forward.”

Read more success stories in the 2023 Rutgers Graduate School of Education Impact Report.