If a day goes by at Homer Flex School in which the focus never lands on Principal Chris Brown, he considers that a good day.
Or, rather, he considers that a day during which his philosophy for the school is working best. Focus on the students, with a lot of work put in by his small but passionate staff. That’s where he places the credit for a recent honor he’s received as leader of the school.
This year, Brown was nominated for and selected as the 2020 Region III Principal of the Year by the Association of Secondary School Principals. He’s been principal at the alternative high school in Homer for the last five years, before which he was a teacher there for five years.
Brown was a teacher in Montana before spending eight years teaching in remote Alaska, all of which preceded his arrival at Flex. He has experience working with nontraditional students, and his goal as a principal is to empower them to take ownership over their own education as much as possible. That’s why he gives so much credit to the students themselves, as opposed to his leadership style or philosophy.
“An award like this more reflects on the staff that we have and the students that we have than anything I’ve done,” Brown said.
It’s the students who attend Homer Flex School who make the school model work, Brown said. The school boasts small graduating classes, school-wide meals prepared and shared together, and strong relationships with teachers and other staff. It’s a model offered for students who struggle to thrive in the traditional high school setting.
“They (Flex students) go through more each and every day just to get to school than I ever encountered,” Brown said.
Brown said colleagues and a few students have reached out to him with congratulations since hearing the news of his award.
“As much as I love hearing from my colleagues and our staff and their excitement of the award, I think it was doubly exciting to hear it from our students,” he said.
Brown is slated to attend a state conference with other secondary school principals in October 2021. It’s a time for him to be recognized as Region II Principal of the Year and an opportunity to network with other principals from across the state.
As principal, Brown has overseen the school’s work in incorporating restorative justice practices, as well as informed trauma care practices. Learning these concepts gave the Flex staff the tools they needed to provide more voice and ownership to the students over their own learning, Brown said. Having a say and a stake in their lessons, in the school’s community building exercises and in school discipline procedures allows the students to be heard every day, he said.
“Flex really showed me the importance of student voice and student leadership in the school,” he said.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.