LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Anna Braun

Position: Retiring Orchestra Teacher
School: Churchill Junior High School
School District: East Brunswick Public Schools
City, State: East Brunswick , NJ

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Dr. Anna Braun was nominated by an anonymous colleague.

Dr. Braun has been an indispensable fixture in the East Brunswick musical landscape from the moment she picked up a viola at Frost Elementary School when she was nine years old. She has not put that viola down since, playing continuously all the way through her graduation from East Brunswick High School in 1981. After earning her degree in Music Education from Trenton State College, and a brief interlude teaching orchestra in Trenton and Hamilton, Dr. Braun returned to the district in 1987 to begin teaching at Hammarskjold Middle School. While teaching, she earned a Master's degree in Teaching from Marygrove College and a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Walden University. Dr. Braun has been teaching at Churchill Junior High School since 2010.

The success of Dr. Braun's orchestra program can be attributed to her constant focus on improving on the status quo, whether she's seeking additional performance opportunities for her students like performing at the Mayor’s Gala, exploring new technological and curricular developments, or incorporating the musical interests of her students into the annual Pops Concert. Dr. Braun's orchestras have been sought out to perform at community events in East Brunswick, as well as annual conferences, such as the National Music Educators All-Eastern Convention and the New Jersey Music Educators Convention. She has had numerous pieces of music dedicated to her and her students at Churchill Junior High School by prominent orchestral string composers and arrangers. Her tireless drive for excellence has been recognized throughout the state, including in 2006, when Dr. Braun received the Master Music Educator Award from the NJ Music Educators Association.

Dr. Braun's commitment to the success of her students, along with her drive to push them to the height of their potential, are in no small part responsible for the sustained success of East Brunswick’s orchestra program, one of the best in the state and a model for other districts.  Dr. Braun's passion for music, thirst for knowledge, and boundless sense of humor have captivated students and fellow teachers for decades.  Her commitment and impact on the district’s orchestra program do not stop with the students.  Over the years, she has mentored countless student teachers and faculty members in East Brunswick who will carry on her legacy.

"Knowing Anna, she will be keeping busy during retirement by spending time with her two grandchildren, her three children, and her husband, Steve," said the nominator. "While we may no longer find Anna tuning hundreds of instruments at concerts, the fruits of her years of dedication to the district will continue to produce for years to come."

Comments (49)

Anna Barrett-Syrett Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun is the reason I have chosen to continue orchestra for so long. Her energetic classes and funny analogies make her a unique teacher that any student would be lucky to have. We're all sad to see her go!

Hazel Ellis Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun, It's so cool to see you have been nominated, and have so many older students commenting. I am not one of those. But, I can still say that you are one of my favorite teachers, in my favorite class! I WILL be coming back next year! I loved the jokes, the crazy times with dancing to BTS, the hilarious ways to get us to turn our camera on will always be remembered. In my case, I always had my camera on, but it was still fun to dance to the music and laugh at the silly jokes. I hope after you retire, you will enjoy the "relaxation" of no grading our music! ~Hazel Ps: Here's an online bouquet! ??

Emma Wilson Posted 12 months ago

It’s hard to put into words how much I’ve loved and appreciated being Dr. Braun’s student for two years. Orchestra means so much to me, and to have a teacher who is dedicated, passionate, and driven has made me love orchestra even more. Not only that, but her sense of humor and positive outlook has put me in a better mood on more than one occasion. I will always remember her impact, and I wish her all the best!

Octavia Jean Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun, You made me so much more confident in my playing skills, and you made my mornings a bit more pleasant with you warm nature. you fascinated me with your amazing playing skills, and you made me want to keep doing orchestra.

Rachel Gavin Posted 12 months ago

My life experiences with Anna Braun are different than most others. Although my four children knew her as their teacher, Dr Braun, I knew her as Anna, an amazing older orchestra member who played the viola beautifully. Not only were we in the EB school orchestras together, along with most of my older siblings, but also in the regional and All-State orchestras, as well as several community orchestras. In addition, we attended the same college, and so I was able to play in the orchestra at TSC with her as well. When I went to college, Anna took on the role of big sister, making sure i adjusted to college life and made sure I didn't get into any trouble. Since Anna knew my WHOLE family, I knew I would be in big trouble if she caught me doing anything! We both participated for years in the week long music conference every summer, where another side of Anna presented itself, her incredible humor!! She is one of the funniest people I know and her participation in skits were so hilarious I still talk about them. She has always been an amazing musician and inspiration. She unfailingly has encouraging words for her students and has built their love for music,in addition to sharing the history of the EB music program she loves so much. I was excited that my children were able to have her as their teacher, and I loved to hear about her family as well throughout the years. Anna, you deserve the best in retirement and always. Enjoy your "free" time with your grandchildren. May you be blessed in all that the future holds for you. No one deserves it more! Thank you for being an important part of the EB music programs legacy!

Sarah Franchino Posted 12 months ago

I've had the unique privilege of co-teaching orchestra with Dr. Braun for the past 5 years at Churchill Junior High School. From the moment I began working at Churchill with Anna, my entire teaching philosophy was changed for the better. I would simply not be the educator I am today without her. Anna's creativity, passion, and impeccable sense of humor allow her to connect deeply with her students. Her sense of "tough love" truly motivates students and pushes them beyond their expectations. Anna is someone my colleagues and I of all subjects will go to for advice, and she always seems to have a solution to even the most challenging situations as a teacher. Anna's dedication to her program and students is contagious. She leaves behind a legacy which I hope to continue on for many years to come. Anna, thank you for being an incredible mentor, colleague, and most of all, friend!

Antonia G. Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Anna Braun, you are truly an inspiring educator and colleague. Your dedication to being the best you can be pushed us all to bring our A-game. (You certainly talked me into volunteering for a lot of activities I would have normally passed on.) Your witty sense of humor always kept us laughing till our eyes watered. Thank you for encouraging me when times were tough, going out of your way to give me a reason to smile and for changing my life. Thank you for influencing our department in such positive ways and creating a legacy of excellence!

Alyssa Simon Posted 12 months ago

Congratulations Dr. Braun! The past two years in the CJHS orchestra have been beyond wonderful; your jokes and enthusiasm always motivated me to do my best in class. I enjoyed hearing your food analogies and stories about your grandkids and it made class so exciting. There are definitely classes I hate being in because it is so boring but I can easily say that orchestra was not one of those. I hope you enjoy your time during retirement!

Nicole P Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun is the light of the orchestra department. She has such a dedication to her craft and to making every student learn a lot and enjoy their time in her orchestra class. Not only is Dr. Braun talented, but she helps every student reach the fullest of their potential. She is an amazing educator and will be missed throughout her retirement.

Celeste Ezeta Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun was and still is one of my favorite teachers. She was hardworking, full of energy, and always made really funny jokes and it's really great to see her be nominated for something like this. I hope you enjoy your retirement Dr. Braun because you definitely deserve it!

Stacy Perez-Montes Posted 12 months ago

YOU WILL BE MISSED. Ma'am you are the most funny and enthusiastic teacher I have ever seen. Never in my life had I thought a someone yelling at me would motivate me so much. heh, enough of the funny- Now, I want to say that Dr. Braun is a very likable person, her sense of humor just made my day and I'm pretty sure she made mornings a little less dimmer. I'm just glad that I get to be part of the students to see her for the last time. NOW LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE DR. BRAUN!!!

Kevin P. Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun is an amazing teacher, and I'll be missing her next year in school.

Ella Chen Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun has always been there for her students since the beginning. She is one of my favorite teachers from this year. She is always helping her students. Dr. Braun makes the class so much better with her humor! I hope she gets nominated, because she deserves it!

Shraaptesh L Posted 12 months ago

Dr.Braun, you are one of the best and one of a kind teacher. No one in this school can match your happiness and enthusiasm you have inside of you while teaching. This just give motivation for the whole school and will push us to the next level. But we all know, we will be seeing you have a good life after this...

Hannah Lin Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun has made class unbelievably fun, and there is no doubt that her students will say that she was highly influential. Not only did she teach about music, but she also taught her students lessons about confidence, having fun, and improving themselves. Students were able to spread music to different audiences thanks to Dr. Braun's hard work. Although she is retiring now, I am sure that students will be motivated to continue spreading music through instruments, and word of her hard work will spread through the district for years to come. I truly thank you for being an awesome teacher! Please stay safe and healthy, and I'm sure we are all hoping to cross paths with you again in the future!

Nicholas Wan Posted 12 months ago

Congratulations Dr. Braun! I enjoyed being your student even though it was virtual. I had tons of fun throughout your class. Thank you for everything you have done.

Silas Vega Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun, I had so much fun this year with you as my 8th grade orchestra teacher! I'm never going to forget the times that we had random conversations with our class whenever we weren't playing beautiful music. I hope that your retirement treats you as well as the students in your classroom. Best wishes for retirement filled with sweet sounds of your past orchestras.

Jada Harris Posted 12 months ago

This nomination is well deserved! Dr. Braun makes every day in class fun and engaging. Her creativity and passion for music is contagious (in a good way LOL). Dr. Braun has a presence that inspires everyone around her to be the best version of themselves. Great teachers like Dr. Braun are a huge reason why I love music. Thank you Dr. Braun for being such an iconic figure in CJHS and allowing many students to express themselves through music. Wishing you the best in your retirement and we will all miss you! :-)

Beth Shobe Posted 12 months ago

Anna, you are larger than life, a true legend in the community and someone I am proud to call a friend and colleague. I admire your passion and your advocacy. Enjoy your retirement and savor every second with your family.p

Lynne Elson Posted 12 months ago

Anytime Drama Club had an emergency-- "Anna! Help!" you always came running. (Or rolling on the knee scooter when you hurt your foot.) And pretending to do cartwheels for the students at home during the pandemic. You go 110% for your students -- a run-away train of energy & fun. You're an inspiration & you showed not only the students but your colleagues as well -- how to have fun & not let the negative stuff get to us. All that and you inspired your students to make the greatest music. Thank you for all your support over the years and all the joy! Enjoy your retirement, you deserve it.

Ana Bornstein Posted 12 months ago

I am currently a part of Dr. Braun’s 8th grade Orchestra. I have only known Dr Braun for a year, but I can tell how truly amazing she is. She is the type of teacher who is always very eager to teach her students. She is very hardworking. During the pandemic this year, she strived to make sure we’d have an Orchestra concert. She learned how to help put together a professional video of a virtual Orchestra concert for not just 1 concert but for 3 concerts! Even when she was sick with covid-19, Behind the scenes she was helping out to make music arrangements that the orchestra could perform. She is very talented and loves what she does. The arrangement of Mozart symphony 10 in g major was spectacular. She always shows gratitude for the many teaching experiences she got this year from teaching virtually. Dr. Braun always encourages students to try their very best. In all my few years of being in Orchestra, this year was the year where I saw the greatest improvement in my playing. Whenever we have a class with her, she always has a great sense of humor. She also always finds a wonderful story that connects to our learning based on her many life experiences. Ultimately the Orchestra and I are very grateful for the many learning experiences we got from her and we surely will use them in our future. I believe Dr. Braun is the epitome of a lifechanging teacher.

Vama Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun has been my orchestra teacher for both the eighth and ninth grade. Throughout these two years, I have had nothing but a memorable class in which I am able to have fun. Orchestra to me, is now a class in which I am able to de-stress from other pressures, all thanks to the comfortable atmosphere Dr. Braun created. Although I am moving to a new grade next year, I will never forget the valuable lessons she taught me.

Saanvi Neelam Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun has been an amazing teacher to me for the year that I have been able to be taught under her. She always brought a charismatic and uplifting feeling into the classroom which helped me and my peers enjoy playing even through this pandemic. She has always wanted the best for her students and was always willing to help whenever needed. I would like to thank her for the years that she has kept up with students, and I hope she knows how grateful we all are to have you as a teacher.

Ryan Maung Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun is an amazing individual. Even in virtual circumstances, she tries to make her students laugh and does anything to help her students be as successful as possible. Dr. Braun always gives second chances to students who are struggling in class. She is very kind and supportive. Although she may be retiring, her hard work and dedication will never be forgotten.

Pia K Posted 12 months ago

In my time learning under Dr. Braun, I have yet to see someone as passionate about teaching as she is. She always put forward her best effort, and her students well reflect her excellence in playing string instruments. Before and during the pandemic, Dr. Braun has never failed to make my peers and I laugh from her joyous personality and her well thought out jokes. Dr. Braun has changed the lives of many with her presence in the orchestra room!

Anonymous Student Posted 12 months ago

During the years I've had her as a teacher, Dr. Braun has been someone who has forever enforced in me the value and beauty of music. I'm glad that I've gotten to have her as a teacher during my two years at Churchill Junior High School, and I wish her the best in the future.

Navya Posted 12 months ago

Congratulations, Dr. Braun! You are highly deserving of this nomination! This year with the pandemic, so many aspects of our daily life changed most notably our teaching and learning methods. However, despite all the changes, you decided to move forward and teach us to the best of your abilities. Every orchestra day, I would always look forward to seeing your smile and your radiant personality. One thing that I admired in particular about you was your ability to find a balance between work and enjoyment, which is often something that I struggle with as a student. As humorous and enthusiastic as you were, you were equally as passionate and hard-working. I am certain that the atmosphere and ambience that you were able to create will never be the same next year; however, your legacy will continue to live on within your students.

Ryan Ma Posted 12 months ago

Thank you for being such an amazing orchestra teacher! I really enjoyed being in your class during these past 2 years at Churchill.

Srijita Sarkar Posted 12 months ago

I am a 8th grade student in orchestra. Dr. Braun has always brightened our day with her jokes and her high energy. She never lets her students be unhappy. Her smiles, and high enthusiasm will be missed incredibly.

Jillian Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun is so hard working and dedicated to all of the orchestra classes in Churchill. She really helped me and my classmates with a lot of hard pieces during the school year and she inspired me to work hard and get better at my instrument. She literally made the class so fun in 8th grade and even during Covid this school year never failed to make me laugh. She's great and will be missed!!

Priyanka Shankar Posted 12 months ago

Dr.Braun is an amazing Orchestra teacher. Even though I don't get to see Dr.Braun and Mrs.Franchino in person, they have made Orchestra very interesting and honestly, they have made online learning even more fun. Dr.Braun taught me to be a strong person and always work hard for what I want. Being on the swim team, my parents also keep saying that I should push myself, and by seeing Dr.Braun, I am even more encouraged to work harder and be the best I can. She is a role model for me and someone who teaches me new things every class. I will miss Dr.Braun greatly next year but I hope to see her at the EBHS concerts.

Aiden Moy Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun is an amazing teacher. She has taught me tons of things that I would not have known, and many neat tips for playing instruments. I love her stories and teaching that made orchestra one of my favorite classes. Every time I see her in class, I smile and having her in 8th grade was the best. I will miss her, and EB Orchestra will never be the same without her.

Samantha Hammond Posted 12 months ago

Anna has always been a source of positivity, light and knowledge. She is an incredible teacher, colleague and friend. Her knowledge of music and pedagogy is unrivaled! I couldn't think of someone who deserves this honor more.

Vishnu Halikere Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun is one of the best orchestra teacher I've ever had. It is her teachings that have had a huge part in why I became so enamored with violin and classical music in general, so much so that I pursued a career in it.. Thank you Dr. Braun for reminding me why I love classical music and violin and for continuing to be such an inspiration to me!

Adam Chin Posted 12 months ago

Dr. Braun, it was a great privilege to be your student during my time in the East Brunswick school system. You made a huge difference in our school's orchestra program. It's great to see you being nominated for this award, I couldn't imagine it going to anyone better. Best wishes and enjoy your well deserved retirement!

Malisa Langdon Posted 12 months ago

There is so much to admire about Anna's dedication to East Brunswick Arts Education over the years. I joined the HMS Arts department in 2002 and distinctly remember enjoying her sense of humor in the very first department meeting. In particular, her curious nature, willingness to learn new skills, work ethic, and, of course, that sense of humor brought so much not only to our department but the entire East Brunswick learning community. I benefited so many times from her willingness to show up and put in extra hours on the technical aspects of the drama club productions and it was always fun to collaborate with her. I have missed her at HMS and wish her well in retirement. Her example of laughing, life-long learning, and hard work have inspired more students and colleagues in EB than she knows. We are all grateful.

Mary O'Mara Posted 12 months ago

It is difficult to say goodbye to such an amazing mentor and colleague. Anna has not only been my teacher, but also my colleague! She has been an inspiration to me and has shaped my teaching practice in many ways. I have learned so much from her and will attempt to carry on her legacy, even though it is daunting to imagine life without her in the EB strings department! One of the most impactful ways Anna has affected her students and colleagues is by reminding us of what an important role music and the arts has on children. Anna has never failed to remind all who cross her path that the orchestra program is an indispensable part of the East Brunswick education. She has provided an emotional outlet and a welcoming space for all students while at the same time providing opportunities for students raise the bar for what's possible to achieve, and as a a result, they often surpass their own expectations. Dr. Braun, you will be greatly missed, but never far from my heart, and hopefully just a phone call away!

Jami De Siena Posted 12 months ago

Anna, You are an amazing friend and colleague. I have learned so much from you about teaching, tech, music, Sibelius, faith and life! You have made an impact on students and staff alike and we are all so much better for it. I love the humor you bring each day to work. You make it a joyful place to be. You are retiring, and I won't get to see you everyday, but I expect to see you a lot! You are a treasure, friend. Love you!

Josh Becker Posted 12 months ago

Where to start? I have known Dr. Braun for over 30 years (first as a student, then as a colleague) and in that time I cannot think of any other teacher/person who works harder for their students. She has spent countless hours educating students, arranging music for her groups, and being a true innovator for instrumental education. In addition, her vicious sense of humor has helped me MANY times - if I had a bad day, we would talk and joke around and next thing I know I'm in a great mood. We had many "adventures" in the Old Hammarskjold and I will forever cherish those memories.

Eric Sturr Posted 12 months ago

Anna - I'm so honored that I've been able to spend the entirety of my EB career with you (and your kids!). I will sincerely miss your sense of humor, passion for the life we have chosen, and incredible witticism. I am so happy to see the outpouring of support from so many colleagues who hold you in such high regard, as well as the thousands of students who were lucky enough to have you as an educator. While I am sad you are retiring, I am happy that you are able to pursue your own pursuits, and that in such an upside down year you were able to return for one last hurrah. I wish you nothing but health and success!

Michelle DaGrosa Posted over a year ago

Dear Anna, I wish you the best of luck in your well-deserved retirement! Although, I know Anna Braun could never fully retire! I am looking forward to seeing you around the Region and All-State circuit and you surely will be in high demand for festivals, master classes and more! Thank you for all the laughs over the years. I very much enjoyed the time we worked together at Churchill. The dedication you have shown to our music programs and your students over the years will have a lasting effect for many years to come! Michelle

Caitlin Nichols Posted over a year ago

Dr. Braun's dedication to her craft has helped to form the very backbone of the East Brunswick music program. She leads by example and inspires her colleagues and students in a way that reverberates far beyond the halls of CJHS, and while she will be greatly missed, her influence will be felt for many years to come.

Susan Meuse Posted over a year ago

Anna, you are the best! It's been amazing to work with you in EB for the last 10 years. I've learned a lot from watching you, and we've had a lot of laughs along the way. Every time I came to CHJS, our conversations always lead to great ideas. After spending time with you, I always felt energized and excited to work on the next thing for our students. EB strings will not be the same without you!

Karuna Lynne Posted over a year ago

Anna, your sense of humor, dedication to the students, your enthusiasm for your art will be missed. Thank you for all your warmth, friendship and ability to make me laugh. Thank you also for always thinking of us, the Theatre kids and being there when we needed you! "Anna, the lights aren't working!" We will forevermore call the light board Dr. B in your honor. I know that many students and staff, including myself are sad to see you retire, but we know you will have a fantastic time laughing and playing after you wake up at a normal human hour. Be well!

Michele Moore Posted over a year ago

I have considered Dr. Anna Braun a matriarch in the East Brunswick Arts Department since I began teaching with her in 2002. She is so incredibly skilled as an educator, and I’ve always held her in the highest esteem. Whenever I had the opportunity to observe Dr. Braun “in action” rehearsing or conducting her students in concert, I was always inspired by the skill-level, artistry, sensitivity, and overall musicianship of her orchestra students year after year. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know and work with Dr. Braun for so many years. Her influence in our Arts Department and her musical legacy in the East Brunswick community will surely continue beyond her retirement!

Alex Posted over a year ago

Dr. Braun is an amazing individual. Although I played in band rather than orchestra, every time I've seen Dr. Braun in the music classroom, she always has a smile on her face and greeted everyone warmly. You can tell she has an incredible passion for what she does, and she fosters not only musical talent, but musical appreciation to every student she meets. Outside of school, Dr. Braun remains just as caring, funny, and optimistic. She's an integral part of our community, and has changed so many lives for the better.

Sarah H Posted over a year ago

I had Dr. Braun as my orchestra teacher in the 8th grade. Although I had to quit the cello that following year she was easily my favorite teacher! She made the class itself fun and exciting yet remained passionate and dedicated to helping us grow as musicians.

Joseph Brown Posted over a year ago

I remember Dr. Braun back when I did orchestra. Her class was a lot of fun and we got to do some really cool music! She was legit one of my favorite teachers. It's nice to see her nominated for something like this.

Stefanie Braun Posted over a year ago

It's so cool to see you nominated! You definitely are one of the most hardworking and dedicated people I know. I hope to be half the woman you are. You're amazing!