“We’re heartbroken this morning,” said Mike Cordle, head of Walker High’s English department.
Walker High School Principal Jeremy Crigger said the students and faculty broke up into groups after the assembly and talked about their memories of Brown. He said the stories were surprisingly upbeat — most of the students talked about Brown making them laugh.
“She was probably the most vivacious personality I’ve ever met,” Cordle said. “She could make you laugh about anything — no matter how bad it was.”
Cordle said Brown, 61, had been a mentor to hundreds of drama students throughout her career. Many of them came to the school when they heard the news of her death, he said.
Stan Way, a former member of Walker High’s drama club, Center Stage, said Brown was a second mother to dozens of students.
“She changed my life drastically in high school, and like so many others I can look back and thank her specifically for making me the person I am today,” he said. “She changed countless lives. Her smile never ceased, her laugh was infectious, and her optimism of life was unrestrained.”
Brown, who graduated from Walker High School in 1967, earned her degree from the University of Alabama in 1972 and became a teacher at Walker in 1987.
According to the school’s website, Brown taught 11th grade honors English and 12th grade English.
Brown was also an adjunct instructor at Bevill State Community College.
Cordle said Brown was also active in the Birmingham-based Women’s Missionary Union and in 1986 wrote a book inspired by her missionary work titled, “It Was Always Africa.”
Brown also served as the master of ceremonies for the annual Walker County Junior Miss Program since 1992.
“We just thought the world of her,” said Monique Rector, the director for the Junior Miss program that was renamed Distinguished Young Women this year. “She will be sorely missed.”
Wednesday afternoon, dozens of students gathered in the school’s library and wrote on a paper banner celebrating Brown’s impact on the school.
One of the notes, written with a green Crayola marker, read: “You were such an amazing teacher and person. I feel so lucky to have known you ... God has gained an angel in Heaven.”