Dr. Martha A. Brown was born in 1948 in Como, Mississippi. She grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, in a large family. Brown describes her mother as " having limited formal Education, but a very educated woman in the ways of the world."
Brown was always interested in mathematics. In high school, two teachers -- Mr. Donald Oldham and Mr. Jimmy Smith -- were very influential. Oldham provided her with a solid foundation in algebra and geometry. Smith, her calculus teacher, encouraged Brown to learn calculus at her own pace. She termed it as "a no-stress, low-key course." She felt that these teachers really cared and they did not tolerate anything less than the best. This motivated her greatly.
Brown always thought that she would go to college. Her mother had instilled in her the notion that "Education is the key." Brown began her undergraduate career at Michigan State University in 1966, studying mathematics Education. She married and moved to Colorado, where she completed her BS in Mathematics Education at Colorado State University in 1970.
Her first job relocated her to Washington, DC, where she taught junior high students in the public school system. Initially teaching was more challenging than she had anticipated. Brown began her experience with the understanding that she was there to "impose values, make the students learn." Tensions resulted between her and her students. Realizing that the situation could not continue, Brown endeavored to learn more about her students -- who they were, where they came from, and how they lived their lives. Brown feels that it was at this time that she truly learned to teach. Her need to understand her students became so important to her that she went back to school and completed a M.Ed. in Urban Staff Development, from Federal City College in Washington, DC, in 1973.
Brown moved on from the DC Public Schools and began to teach high school students in the Prince George's County Public School System. There she found that the students would seek her out, not only to ask for help with their school work, but also to ask her for advice related to non-academic issues. Again her need to serve her students in the best way led her to earn a second M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling, from the George Washington University in 1979.
Brown always planned on getting her doctorate because of a desire to be more than average and because her upbringing focused on being the best at "whatever you choose to be and do." She completed her doctorate in mathematics Education at the American University in 1988.
Brown's interest in mathematics is not limited to what is done in the classroom. She had worked with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics since 1988, as well as other organizations whose mission is the improvement of teaching and learning in mathematics. She is a member of several professional organizations including the Benjamin Banneker Association, the International Study Group for Ethnomathematics, and the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics.
Presently, Brown is the supervisor of Mathematics in the Prince George's County Public School System. Reform occurring within the mathematics curriculum has made it necessary to provide teachers with opportunities to learn about new techniques, trends, and academic requirements. She is there to challenge and support all of the public school mathematics teachers by way of professional development workshops and mentoring.
Brown is currently a student at the Wesley Theological Seminary, pursuing the Master of Divinity degree. This pursuit is a natural extension of who she is in terms of understanding her work in mathematics Education as a ministry rather than a job or a career. Brown is active in her church and is a student pastor. Throughout her life, she felt that she could best serve her community by learning and understanding as much as she could. Brown feels blessed and she is grateful for the opportunities she has had and those that are still to come.