Post Best Teacher of the year

Ridge Road Middle School's Malaika Brewer Is Post Foundation Educator of The Year

Published Tuesday, June 14, 2022 8:00 am
Malaika Brewer

Malaika Brewer says she’s “more than just a teacher.” The Charlotte Post Foundation’s Educator of the Year helps students, from career counseling to fashioning someone’s hair, but she values “ah-ha moments” most.

“Miss Brewer” as her students call her, teaches English and Social Studies at Ridge Road Middle in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System.

The “ah-ha moments” come “when children actually understand what you’re teaching,” Brewer said. “When students find something they like and they express that, it’s the best part of the day.”

When Michael Williams was dean of students at Ridge Road Middle, he recalls observing an “ah-ha moment” and how excited Miss Brewer was when a student experienced it.

“They celebrated in the classroom,” said Williams, now assistant principal at Corriher-Lipe Middle in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools. “It gave that student more confidence.”

She really knows her students, Williams said. “The way you get to know kids is to find out something unique about them,” he said. “She epitomized that.”

“Malaika Brewer’s love for all students produces better citizens,” said Gerald Johnson, publisher of The Charlotte Post and president of The Charlotte Post Foundation. “Her positive imprint endures in our community.”

The Charlotte Post Foundation will honor Brewer on October 8 at its “Best” banquet where it will also recognize Gene Woods, CEO of Atrium Health, as its 2022 “Luminary”.

Brewer is a 27-year teaching veteran who is the current Northeast Learning Community Teacher of the Year as well as the Ridge Road Middle Teacher of the Year.

She started in CMS in 1994 but moved to Atlanta for a time. With On Location Education, she taught child media stars and was set tutor for the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular. She taught conversational English to Koreans online and wrote and edited an educational curriculum for the Army Reserves.

She also homeschooled children of celebrities such as Steve Harvey and Julius Erving, basketball’s “Dr. J.”

“Julius Erving, I loved him,” she said. “He was so nice and so involved.”

To deal with serious family health situations, Brewer returned seven years ago to Charlotte and CMS. With her quick smile and signature pearl necklaces, she creates an engaging presence on campus.

She’s taught students at various grade levels, but she values her interaction with children in the sixth-through-eighth-grade ages.

“They’re getting to know themselves,” she said. “They’re transitioning. It’s the most important years of their life. I try to help them navigate through that. Today I did some counseling and I did someone’s hair.

“I don’t have children of my own. My children are in here,” she said, gesturing to her classroom.

She keeps up with students she’s taught. Recently, Bria Bryant, who had Miss Brewer in the eighth grade, visited her at home. Now a senior at Mallard Creek High, Bria sees her former teacher as a mother figure.

“She definitely gave me a lot of help in choosing the right college,” said Bria, who will be a freshman Nursing student at Hampton University. “She never forgets about being a teacher, but she knows it’s deeper than that. You have to truly care for students.”

Mary Towe remembers meeting Malaika Brewer during the 1989 opening of Providence High when Malaika was a member of the student leadership team. “Through the years, we’ve stayed in touch,” said Towe, retired director of the CMS Office of Student Wellness and Academic Support.

Vibrancy about life stands out to Towe as an important part of Brewer’s character. “She captures the enthusiasm she has for learning and passes it on to students,” Towe said. “She has a way of bringing learning to life for young people, for getting students and parents involved and being a leader for her peers. She will go the extra mile.

“I wish every student had a ‘Miss Brewer’,” Towe said. “If they have a ‘Miss Brewer,’ they have someone who’s concerned about them as a person, concerned about their character and development and how they learn skills that will help them through life.”

The Post Foundation’s “Best” banquet is a major fund raiser for the Foundation’s initiatives targeting African-Americans. Called the Three C’s, these are: Corrective education focused on remedial reading for elementary students; Continuing education that recognizes the area’s highest performing African-American high school seniors in academics; and Community education through Black Lives Matter Charlotte.