From submarines to students

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Mark Brittain posing with a picture of the SSN646 submarine.            Credit:Johnny Ionescu

  From ex-Navy to English teacher, Mark Brittain makes an impact in the classroom helping students realize their potential and expand on their strengths.

   Brittain did not pursue teaching in the classroom originally, he felt he wasn’t prepared for college so he enrolled in the Navy. He served in the Navy for six years and four months being deployed for weeks or months at a time. This was during the infamous Cold War era.  Brittain was aboard USS Grayling SSN646 submarine during this time as machinist mate.

 “The longest time we were underneath the water was 78 days.” Brittain said.

  Brittain got the idea to become a teacher while helping out as a parent volunteer in his son’s 2nd grade class. Before this, he did not work any career jobs but chose teaching, as it clicked for him. He then received his teaching degree at Concordia University in Portland.

  Though Brittain did not immediately jump to the spot of teaching a class full time, he subbed two years for the Parkrose, David Douglas, and Gresham-Barlow districts before becoming a full time English teacher at Clear Creek Middle School. He made the move to Gresham last year and took up freshman and senior English classes   

 “His class was pretty great, and his teaching skills are pretty great too.” sophomore Ma Noat Chan said.

  As for the students of his classes, they will notice his free flowing teaching style. Having enough structure in the classroom to teach what is needed, but also allowing students to work and learn on their own time without restrictions. Brittain also will allow students to listen to music to focus on their work during the class.

   Brittain also tells stories occasionally during his class when the context of the classwork is in line with a personal life experience. Ranging from simple high school experiences to experiences while being submerged in a submarine in the Arctic. Sparking discussion in the classroom that allows students to break away from the normal curriculum talk that most teachers preach.

  “Brittain was my favorite teacher, he knew how to relate to his students and made sure everyone was on track.” sophomore Chris Odom said.

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From submarines to students