Sue Brand, who recently was the chairwoman of the Fairfield Board of Education, has been named the recipient of this year's PTA Council Deanna O. Kiernan Award.

The award is given to a person recognized as an advocate for the Fairfield public schools and the town's students. Brand was nominated for the award by Betty Ann O'Shaughnessy, a member of the Fairfield Ludlowe High School PTA and a 2006 winner of the Kiernan Award.

"It's a great honor from an organization and people that I greatly respect," Brand told the Fairfield Citizen. "I never had to work alone. I always had someone supporting me from behind, standing alongside of me arm-in-arm, or in front of me to protect me."

In addition to serving on the Board of Education, Brand has been active in other local education groups. The mother of four, ranging in age from 18 to 25, Brand has served on PTAs at Mill Hill Elementary School, Tomlinson Middle School and Fairfield Ludlowe High School. Among her activitieshas been running Mill Hill's Odyssey of the Mind program for three years and helping to coach the teams for five years; serving as PTA president at Tomlinson while it was undergoing renovations, as well as membership on the Tools for Schools committee, an EPA-sponsored air-quality program at Tomlinson.

Brand, who has been on the school board nearly four years, was also part of a townwide group called the Temporary Construction Building Committee.

In accepting the award June 1, Brand said it was probably her father, a lifelong teacher, who influenced her advocacy for education.

"How or when I got started on this track, I just can't remember," she said, "my dad was in education all his life and he was the go-to person to help solve family, professional and personal problems. He was like Atticus in "To Kill A Mockingbird."

And, she added, "my mom used to say, `Be different, be kind, and help others. Who I am, who I have become, is due to my parents, husband, children and my dear friends. I never pursued an issue with a grand plan of how it should all work out, rather, I seemed to just fall into things and just can't seem to turn away."

She said she has had the privilege of seeing education from many different perspectives -- daughter of an educator, student, instructor, parent, PTA member and Board of Education member, and while the view may be different, the message remains the same.