Kwaj Kid Turned Teacher: Stephanie Brown

By James BrantleyMarch 15, 2023

Kwaj Kid Turned Teacher: Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown, a teacher at Kwajalein Child and Youth Services, appears here in an undated courtesy photo. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

People say that Kwajalein is shaped like a boomerang and people eventually come back to it over time. This is evident with several Kwaj kids, the term bestowed upon individuals who grew up part of their life on Kwajalein and have returned to live and work here.

When were you here as a kid?

I lived on Kwajalein from 1993-2000, I was here from KAPS (what the preschool was called then) up to the fifth grade. I did not graduate from Kwajalein High School.

How was it growing up here?

I absolutely loved growing up here. One of my favorite memories of living out here was hanging out at North Point almost every weekend, while my dad would windsurf.

One time, the fin of his board broke off on the reef. We snorkeled out to where he remembered it breaking, and I found it stuck on the coral. We were able to retrieve it and super glued it back to his board.

Where did you go after graduation?

Once we PCS’d from Kwaj, my family relocated back to Boston.

I went to college at the University of New Hampshire and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work.

What brings you back?

I have always wanted to return to Kwaj, ever since I left as a kid, for the unique experience as an adult.

Do you think the island has changed?

I am still relatively new to being back on island, but I have noticed that a lot of buildings that used to host events are run down and non-operational, which I hope will eventually change.

What is your role on Kwaj now?

I am the lead teacher of the Baru classroom at the Child Development Center. I am responsible for the infants, pre-toddlers, and toddlers.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I wanted to come back and teach Kwaj Kids because I wanted them to have the same incredible experience that I did.

I can still remember all my teachers’ names and how they made our school year fun and adventurous, given the environment. I think it’s unique that I am teaching kids in the same building that I once attended preschool.

What is the best part of Kwaj life?

For me, the best part of living on Kwaj so far has been reconnecting with a lot of Kwaj kids that I grew up with in the 90’s, some of which I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I also really enjoy riding around.

Are there drawbacks to living on Kwaj?

I would say the distance between here and the States is a slight drawback, only because it takes a few days to get back to see any family members.

Tell me about the kids on Kwaj and why you dedicated your life to teaching.

The kids on Kwaj are full of energy! They are eager to learn and play. As I mentioned before, I took the opportunity to come back to Kwaj to teach because I felt that I wanted these kids to have a similar experience.

I want to be a model of the unique education that I experienced and grew up to tell everybody about back in the States.

How long have you been back on Kwaj, and is this the first time you've returned since you lived here?

I just got back to Kwaj at the beginning of August 2022. Before that, I visited in 2009 and 2010.