White Oak Elementary helps surprise custodian with a special award

“Mr. Brown is a super special man to a lot of people,” parent Adrian Wood said. “Which I think today’s shown.”
Published: Mar. 20, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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EDENTON, N.C. (WITN) - When a custodian at White Oak Elementary didn’t win the “NC School Heroes,” award, a parent at the school decided to show their appreciation for him with a special award.

Raymond Earl Brown, a Chowan County native who graduated from their school system, worked at White Oak Elementary for about 15 years. His passion for his job is evident to those around him.

“Mr. Brown is at school every day at 5:30 a.m.,” parent Adrian Wood said. “And his duties have obviously, I would say, tripled, with Covid and he’s stepped up to the plate.”

Brown’s daughter, Dytisha Brown, said her father is a loving, family-man who loves all his children and is a hard worker.

“He loves going to work,” Brown said. “[Is] there every day, early, which the principal mentioned, that he’s there before her. He makes sure the school is nice and safe for the kids.”

Brown traveled from Greenville to Edenton on Saturday morning to surprise her father with her family. Brown is the oldest sibling of five.

“I can’t wait to see his reaction,” Brown said earlier on the road. “He doesn’t know. He thinks we’re going downtown to the waterfront to take family pictures that we haven’t taken in years.”

Saturday was also Brown’s 38th wedding anniversary, according to his daughter.

But what Raymond Earl Brown, who the school refers to as “Mr. Brown,” found was a crowd who cheered him on as he walked to the waterfront.

Wood, who organized the event, collected $35,000 to give to him with an award named after her youngest son, Amos, 7, who has special needs and found a friend in Mr. Brown.

“He welcomed my son,” Wood said. “He started calling him “Famous Amos.” And when the most popular man in school gives you a nice nickname, it draws other children in. So suddenly, my son, who isn’t the best kind of friend, right, he doesn’t talk to people or do things but all the kids started talking to him. And so, even now if you walk down the hall, you’ll hear children say “there’s Famous Amos! Hey Famous Amos!” And as a mom of a child with a disability, there’s nothing more I want in the world to include him.”

Wood said she started a blog five years ago, called the “Tales of an Educated Debutante,” to write about her life as a parent and was touched by the relationship between her son and Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown Surprise!!!

Posted by Tales of an Educated Debutante on Saturday, March 20, 2021

Wood said at least 2,000 people donated from across the world.

Brown was presented the “Famous Amos” award on Saturday.

“I was super proud,” Dytisha Brown said. “Basically everyone that was there, the kids, who did a little performance out there for him. And it was just really good and everybody’s really proud and I just thank everyone so much.”

The Mayor of Edenton, Chief of Police and Miss North Carolina were also in attendance to congratulate Brown.

“I realize all the joy that’s traveled with my Amos,” Wood said. “And I just hope that people will look around and see we can, it’s not hard to do. It’s not hard to be kind and it’s not hard to recognize kindness.”

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