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‘A shining light’

Honoring beloved teacher in Queens
New York Teacher
Scott Brower

Scott Brower’s colleagues on the court at PS 20 in Queens, with Fenel Dorsainvil (standing, third from left), who ran the basketball program with Brower, and one of Brower’s closest friends, teacher Corey Riese (standing, fourth from left).

Scott Brower

Brower, who died in a traffic accident in March, “was culturally responsive before the term became popular,” a colleague said.

Scott Brower was known as both “a teachers’ teacher” and someone who could connect with troubled students at PS 20 in Queens because, Chapter Leader Jennifer Berner said, “He was a giant kid with smarts.”

“He spoke to children like equals,” fellow physical education teacher John Paul Gonzalez explained. “Some teachers remind them of boundaries; he spoke to them like they were friends. So he was more approachable, and children would open up more.”

Brower, a 15-year veteran who spent most of his career at the 1,000-student school in Flushing, died on March 20 after being struck by a speeding motorcyclist while crossing Merrick Road near his home in Rockville Centre on Long Island. The 42-year-old is survived by his wife, Mary Elizabeth Brower, and their daughter, Anna Grace.

Brower made such an impact on fellow educators and administrators that a committee was formed to pay tribute to him. Brower Day on June 14 featured a party and the revival of a basketball game pitting students against staff that Brower helped organize each year before a hiatus during the pandemic. At the after-school portion of the event, plans were unveiled for a new school gymnasium, with the basketball court to be named in Brower’s memory. A Peer Advocate Award bearing his name will be presented annually at graduation ceremonies. Staff also raised money to send five student athletes to a summer basketball camp, another part of what will be an annual tribute.

Brower “was more than just physical education and sports. He was a voice for everyone against bullying and was culturally responsive before the term became popular,” said Fenel Dorsainvil, who ran the school’s basketball program with Brower. “He made a connection with all the students, no matter the gender or the race.”

Corey Riese, a veteran teacher at PS 20, said Brower was “a shining light. He had a very gruff exterior, but once you got inside, he was a mush. And he really gravitated to the kids who needed discipline and structure. It wasn’t just about school; he was teaching them life lessons, respect, how to carry yourself.”

One student basketball player called him a father figure.

Brower, who began his teaching career at PS 158 in East New York in Brooklyn, was equally liked and esteemed among his fellow educators, Riese said. “You would pass him in the hallway and without saying a word he would make a face or do something else that would make you smile,” Riese recalled. “He was an inspirational person.”

“He was always young at heart,” Berner said.