Kindred Spirits: Fanny Chats with Shawn Brown
Just like in most fields, the community of early childhood education has both trend followers and trendsetters. Entertainer and motivational speaker Shawn Brown would definitely be described as the latter.
Fanny's first encounter with Shawn was a few years ago in Washington D.C. during NAEYC. She was in the Frog Street booth having photos taken with her fans, when she noticed a loud commotion over at another booth. Fanny moseyed over to see what all the fuss was about, and discovered Shawn with a huge mob of teachers rocking out to some sort of funky, Urban beat but with lyrics geared towards children. Fanny was intrigued by the talented musician who had fused relevant, mainstream tunes with learning words for preschoolers. She took note for future reference, and finally, Shawn Brown has been a keynote speaker for Frog Street’s 2012 Summer Splash conferences.
“My genre is one that I believe we created out of necessity or request, and I would just entitle it ‘New Millennium music for the New Millennium child,” said Shawn, during an interview at Houston Splash. “What children listen to is what their parents are listening to, and they’re listening to New Millennium music. I mix it up—there might be a little rock, there might be a little country—but, the prevailing music right now that’s selling the most is your Latin flavor, your Hip-Hop, your R & B, your Techno—all of these are the rhythms that these children are growing up on, so when they hear that in the classroom and the teachers hear it, they’re like, ‘Hey! I can groove to this!’”
Even Shawn’s own talent was born out of necessity, as he recalls being a student who challenged the adults in his life to make school interesting for him. “The boredom that I had as a child kept me mischievous,” he said. His need for attention and knack for achieving it by making his schoolmates laugh began to get him into trouble with his teachers and parents. “My parents, not knowing how to deal with me and having to keep coming up to the school, finally put me in drama classes and piano lessons. This made me a more talented interruption.”
After serving in the U.S. Air Force and trying out his musical, acting, and comedic talents on many stages, including a time in Hollywood, Shawn eventually gravitated toward an area he had always loved—working with children. In 2001, he moved to Georgia and started a journey into what is now The Super Fun Show, a curriculum enhancement program presented in a television show format. “I cater my music and everything I do to the early childhood teacher, making sure they have the tools they need to stay excited,” Shawn said, regarding not only his music, but the puppetry, drama, story-telling and comedy he uses in his programs.
Shawn’s wife Sheryl is vice-president of Role Model Productions, the company they formed in 1993 to reach inner-city, at-risk youth in Los Angeles. She partners with Shawn in writing curriculum enhancements that are tailored to the guidelines of different state standards, as well as marketing and presenting the programs. Both Shawn and Sheryl exhibit an enthusiasm for life and early childhood that is essential to “role models” in this New Millennium age.
“I feel as though what I do is a ministry first, a job/career second,” said Shawn. “It’s important to me that the children learn in an environment that will produce the best results and have the sustainability that’s required as they enter kindergarten.”
Although he loves working with teachers, Shawn cherishes the time he spends actually working with children, and hopes he will have more opportunities to perform for the younger crowd in the future. “As much as I enjoy the entertaining and working with teachers, I can’t describe the joy I get when I work with the children and do those shows and see those smiling faces,” he said, adding that he can be contacted at his Web site, www.superfunshow.com, by educators who are interested in his programs.
Fanny and all of the Frog Street family are excited about our new friendship with Shawn Brown, and are feeling that early childhood soul connection. Our long history of mixing music and learning is common ground with Shawn’s outlook and advice to educators.
“I would just say to all teachers, stay relevant and research how to use music in a productive way—how to push ‘play’ with a purpose. Every time you push ‘play’ on a CD player, there should be an objective and an outcome…every single time.”
And, what does Shawn think about his new friends at Frog Street?
“I’m feeling excited about Frog Street, and I’m looking forward to what the future has to offer,” he said. “I look at Frog Street as a leader in conferences. As one who has been to these conferences for the past 8 or 9 years, I’ve never seen one put together like this. Ever!” (Thanks, Shawn!)
You can see and hear Shawn Brown at our third and final 2012 Splash conference this week in beautiful San Antonio, Texas!
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