Teach Kentucky’s impact is growing as this year marks the first time a student of a Teach Kentucky teacher has gone on to enter the program herself. Launi Brown is a member of the newest Teach Kentucky cohort, and a former Western High School student of Aubrey Holle, a member of Teach Kentucky’s 2012 cohort.

Aubrey? Who is Aubrey? Launi Brown, who has just begun her first year at Shawnee Middle School, recalls thinking when Rowan (TKY founder and president) expressed excitement that the two were now both teachers in Teach Kentucky.

“Oh you mean Ms. Holle!” Launi exclaimed upon seeing her picture; she still can’t bring herself to call her former teacher by her first name.

“Launi was one of the brightest students I ever taught and coached,” TKY veteran chemistry teacher and former softball coach Aubrey Holle says. The two recently appeared on the University of Louisville’s radio show UofL Today with Mark Hebert to talk about their experience.

Launi (left) and Aubrey (right) on University of Louisville’s radio program, UofL Today with Mark Hebert

Launi remembers Aubrey in a similarly flattering light: “All I remember is that I loved her class. She was the first teacher to make chemistry interesting and understandable.” Even later in her academic career, Launi attributes her success in college-level chemistry courses to Aubrey’s excellent instruction.

Launi isn’t the only one to have given high praise to Aubrey Holle’s instruction. Over her six-year tenure in public education, Aubrey has received multiple honors and awards. In 2014, she received the Outstanding Student in Secondary Science Award from the University of Louisville; in 2016, she became a member of the JCPS/U of L Competency Awareness & Responsiveness to Diverse Students

Aubrey Holle (center) receiving the Hilliard Lyons Excellence in Teaching Award, with TKY President Rowan Claypool (left) and JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio (right).

(CARDS) program; in 2017, she became a Louisville Water Company Fellow; and in 2018, she was named a University of Kentucky Teacher Who Made a Difference Honoree and won the Hilliard Lyons Excellence in Teaching Award.

Aubrey’s excellence in STEM education at Western High School is a flagship example of what Teach Kentucky seeks to accomplish in Louisville. The organization brings outstanding teachers to the Louisville area and launches their education careers, supporting them to excel in some of the most challenging public school environments. Ultimately, they inspire students to work as hard as they do to achieve despite real challenges.

Five years ago, Aubrey Holle knew her student Launi Brown would go on to do great things. “Launi could have gone to any high school she wanted,” Aubrey recounts, “but she chose Western over ‘highly ranked’ magnet high schools. She was interested in getting the college credits” the school offered through its Early College program in partnership with Jefferson County Technical College (JCTC).

Launi recounts that her choice to attend Western was also about wanting to be in the area where she grew up. Before her mom moved to Lyndon, Launi first lived at 36th and West Broadway, walking distance from where she now teaches English and social studies at Shawnee Middle School. In returning to this community to teach, Launi has shown the returns on Teach Kentucky’s investment in its teachers can be exponential.

Though the first year teaching has been challenging, as it is for every first-year teacher, Launi notes that the moments when students “get it” are already inspiring her to keep pushing to be that teacher who ignites sparks among her students. She loves watching their eyes light up when she explains difficult concepts, especially when tough kids are engaged and motivated, perhaps for the first time since they were very young.

“I want to give back to my community and be like the teachers who inspired me, like Ms. Holle,” Launi says, and from hearing how she speaks about her students, it’s clear she is on her way.