Abby Brown is an educator of twenty-five years, the mother of two teenaged boys, and a breast cancer survivor. Her new book, What About the Hair Down There? is an incredibly powerful journal of her experiences with cancer, and her writing is marked by its simplicity, honesty, humor, and pain.
In the Introduction to the book, she writes, “Writing became one of my solaces during the months of chemo and radiation for breast cancer. I shared thoughts – honest and sincere – regardless of their sensitive nature. And though I knew many people who had been diagnosed with this disease, I didn’t know much about living through the experience of treatment. I’m a mother of two teenage boys, have a wonderful husband of 31 years, and I love my job as a teacher of 25 years at Marine Elementary School in Marine, Minnesota. Add to that mix the family and friends I love I decided to do what I could to stick around a while longer.
As a veteran elementary teacher, Abby Brown still spends her energy and days with fifth and sixth graders at her little grade school in Marine, Minnesota, a small town on the St. Croix River that most say is the place upon which Garrison Keillor based his fictional town of Lake Wobegon.
Abby made national news in 2009 with her “Stand Up for Learning” initiative, and her small school made front page headlines in the New York Times for its use of the now-patented Alphabetter Student Desk — an adjustable-height standing work station for students.
“From the hallway, Abby Brown’s sixth-grade classroom in a little school here about an hour northeast of Minneapolis has the look of the usual one, with an American flag up front and children’s colorful artwork decorating the walls. But inside, an experiment is going on that makes it among the more unorthodox public school classrooms in the country, and pupils are being studied as much as they are studying. Unlike children almost everywhere, those in Ms. Brown’s class do not have to sit and be still. Quite the contrary, they may stand and fidget all class long if they want.”
— From the NY Times article about Abby Brown and her classroom at Marine Elementary