March 22, 2019


Jenna Brown riding a camel in Morocco

Young teacher to recount years in Morocco

With her graduation from college rapidly approaching in 2016, Jenna Brown began her search for a job in early childhood education.  She’d never given a thought to the possibility of teaching abroad.

“It happened all of a sudden,” said Brown of her decision to take a teaching job in Morocco, a predominantly Muslim country in northwest Africa, a place she knew next to nothing about.

A friend had attended an International School Fair and got a job within two days. More jobs were available, the friend advised Brown, including a second-grade position in Casablanca.

Faster than you can say “passport,” Brown found herself signing a contract and making plans to move more than 4,000 miles from LaGrange, where she grew up and attended Lafayette Christian School. She broke the news to her parents, Greg and Sherri Brown, after the ink was dry.

“We were stunned,” Sherri Brown recalls. “Jenna was a kid who had trouble staying all night at church camp.”

Jenna poses with a group of her studentsJenna Brown spent the next two years on the faculty of the American Academy Casablanca, a sometimes exhilarating, sometimes exasperating time during which she experienced major culture shock and overcame language barriers, in addition to the normal challenges of guiding a room full of 8-year-olds.

Now finishing up her first year in an American classroom, the 25-year-old Hollis Hand kindergarten teacher will share her experiences in Morocco as the March speaker at LaGrange College’s 3D Journeys lecture/travel series, “Magic of Morocco.”  Her talk, entitled “From Camels to Rainbows:  Two Years in Morocco,” is set for 10 a.m. Monday in Turner Hall.

“I am really looking forward to it,” said Brown. “I learned so much from my time there, and I’m so glad I did it. I grew as a teacher and as a human.”

The opportunity to live abroad “sounded cool,” Brown said, laughing as she reflected on the spur-of-the-moment decision. “A lot of people have told me I was brave, but looking back, it was both brave and naïve.”

Casablanca, with almost 4 million people, ranks as one of the most crowded cities in the world, with a population density of 14,200 per square kilometer. Brown admits she didn’t like it at first.

“It was so loud, I couldn’t sleep, but after a while I got used to it.”

Brown’s school provided housing that was safe, adequate and came with maid service, a nice perk, but she found the working conditions less than stellar. Seven teachers left during her first term. Brown had some tearful Facetime conversations with her parents, but stuck it out.

“It’s not for everyone. I’m proud of myself for staying.  It would not have been good to run out on my first teaching job,” she said. 

Jenna views a cityscape of MoroccoBesides, she found joy in the hugs and accomplishments of her students, a blend of Moroccan and international children from Spain, Colombia, Turkey, China and elsewhere. The school practiced “English immersion,” meaning she taught math, reading, science and social studies in her native tongue, even though some students spoke no English at first. She learned “survival Arabic and French” and leaned on locals who worked as classroom assistants. Her second year, she had four boys who spoke no English at all at the beginning of school.  By year’s end, they were all reading, writing and speaking English.

Coworkers became friends and locals invited her into their homes for visits and holiday observances. She experienced Ftour, the traditional evening meal with which Muslims end their daily fast at sunset during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. Another time, she was a guest for Eid, an important religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan and involved the slaughter of a sheep.

“The people are open and caring and hospitable,” Brown said. “Their level of hospitality even puts Southern hospitality to shame.”

She also found it easy to travel inside Morocco, known for its geographic splendor, visiting beaches (where camels sometime roam), mountains and desert. And she travelled several times to Europe, something she could not have done as readily had her first job been in the U.S.

Brown credits her upbringing with preparing her to accept and enjoy the variety of experiences.

“My parents were really intentional about having relationships with people who aren’t like them. They made it a point to be accepting and listen,” she said.

Sherri Brown said she and her husband raised their three daughters to be strong, independent women.

“But it’s still hard to let your kids go, to stand back and let them be what you’ve raised them to be.”

Jenna Brown went to Morocco expecting to change and she wasn’t afraid to try new things, including Moroccan cuisine, which she describes as “delicious,” and the traditional haggling in the marketplace.

“I find that fun,” she said.

A year back in the States has been welcome, but Brown is not through with international travel.  She’s already signed on to teach next year in China, in a not-for-profit school in Shenzhen, a modern city of more than 12 million just north of Hong Kong. This time, she’s done more homework and feels confident she can handle whatever lies ahead.

“I’m going to take some of my things from Morocco to China,” she said with an impish smile, “to make it feel like home.”

In a weird way, she added, Casablanca did become her home.

“I had a lot of firsts there. It was the first place I was an adult.”

About the 3D Journeys series:  Lectures are free and held at 10 a.m. on the fourth Monday of January through April in the Dickson Assembly Room in Turner Hall.  Parking is available at Sunny Gables Alumni House, 910 Broad St., with shuttle service to the door.

An optional Dutch treat lunch is available in Pitts Dining Hall following each lecture.


Giving back to the college

LaGrange College encourages alumni to give back and help students the same way many current graduates were supported – through donor-funded scholarships and resources while on campus. This year we have a goal for 1,100 alumni to make a gift—and any amount helps—by June 30.

Make a gift


Cultural Enrichment events


  • “Fanny Wright: Social Reform and the Lafayette Connection,” 11:15 a.m., Corn Auditorium, Lewis Library
  • “The History of the Latino Coffee Culture,” 11:15 a.m., Bailey Room


  • Servant Scholars Self-Care Fair, 7 p.m., Dickson Assembly Room


  • Sustainability Club interest meeting, 11:15 a.m., Lewis Library Multimedia Room


In the headlines

Play takes searing look at family dynamics – LaGrange Daily News, March 15, 2019

LaGrange College undergrad students gather to clean up local park – LaGrange Daily News, March 18, 2019

Service day a benefit to all – LaGrange Daily News, March 19, 2019

LaGrange College students paint bowls for Circles of Troup – LaGrange Daily News, March 21, 2019

Local students score big at LaGrange College’s Presidential Scholars Weekend – Marietta Daily Journal, March 21, 2019

Sports management class hears from guest speakers in the field – LaGrange Daily News, March 21, 2019

Young teacher to recount years in Morocco – LaGrange Daily News, March 21, 2019

“August: Osage County” – Troup County News, March 17, 2019


Some newspapers require subscriptions to access articles


Video of the Week



Baseball player celebrating

The Panthers (15-6, 8-3 USA South) beat No. 20 Piedmont 8-2 to take their USA South series two games to one. Sophomore McKinley Erves was 8-for-10 in the three games. LC is ranked 24th in the Top 25 poll.

Men's tennis player swinging his racket

Men’s tennis
LaGrange (4-2, 3-1 USA South) lost 5-4 to USA South rival Piedmont on Wednesday. Senior John Mitchell Benton won his No. 2 singles match and teamed with Kyle Kelley to win at No. 1 doubles.

Women's tennis player playing on the court

Women’s tennis
Visiting Piedmont beat the Panthers (3-4, 1-1 USA South) 9-0 on Wednesday.


Upcoming sporting events

Friday, March 22
Baseball vs. Covenant, Cleaveland Field at Williamson Stadium, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 23
Baseball vs. Covenant (doubleheader), Cleaveland Field at Williamson Stadium, 2/5 p.m.

Softball at Covenant (doubleheader)

Women's Lacrosse at Greensboro

Sunday, March 24
Softball at Emory (doubleheader)

Tuesday, March 26
Baseball at Berry

Thursday, March 28
Softball vs. Huntingdon (doubleheader), LC Softball Complex, 5/7 p.m.


Campus notes

An exhibition of prints made by artists also known for sculpture will be on display at the Cochran Gallery at 4 East Lafayette Square in LaGrange, beginning today and going until March 29. Curated by museum studies students at LaGrange College, “Transcendence: Sculptors Making Prints” draws from the extensive collections of Wes and Missy Cochran. The public is invited to the opening reception tonight at 6 p.m.

Dr. Elizabeth Appleby, Associate Professor of French, gave a presentation at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ annual convention. She also spent last summer in an intensive Japanese language program at Washington University of St. Louis. Dr. Appleby also was part of the team (along with Dr. Mark Yates, Associate Professor of Biology, and Michael Coniglio, Director of Physical Plant for National Resource Management) that helped LaGrange College be designated a Tree Campus USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Braves spring training photo courtesy of LaGrange Daily News

Get your tickets now for the June 1 alumni and friends afternoon with the Atlanta Braves. First pitch is 4:10 p.m. as the Braves take on the Detroit Tigers. Tickets are $35 and include a $10 food/drink voucher and a game ticket in the Terrace Reserved seating section. Each ticket purchased also allows the group access to the Xfinity Cabanas at 2:40 p.m. The LC cabana will include foosball, cornhole and ping pong games as well as the pre-game feed on an 8’x20’ LED video screen. Food and drink options are located nearby. The stadium’s LED board will recognize LaGrange College during the game. Deadline for purchasing tickets is April 1. To purchase tickets (and qualify for door prizes) and for more information, visit the alumni website. Tickets are limited, so don’t miss out.

Learn2Serve teachers work with campers on a project

Registration continues for this year’s Learn 2 Serve camp that will run June 10-28. It is designed for rising fifth- through eighth-grade students only. Visit here for more information and an application form.