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Educators glad to wear many hats to help students

By Mike Barnhardt
Enterprise Record

Sam Brown is an assistant principal at William R. Davie Elementary School.
But that doesn’t make him special. Not at all.
Just ask him.
He’ll be quick to shift the praise for the success of Davie students to the teaching assistants, to the bus drivers, to the janitorial and cafeteria workers. And Brown should know; he’s done just about every job there is at the school – all while retaining the title of assistant principal.
Part of it is because of staffing shortages, but mostly it’s because he cares.
“We’re all doing it,” Brown said. “Anyone who works in education wears many hats. In any given year, you have staff that may get sick … but having more positions open is challenging. Here, everybody jumps in.
“I’ve had teacher assistants who hop off the bus and go into that classroom with a smile, teaching our kids. Bus drivers and teacher assistants are some of the first people a kid sees in the morning.”
Yes, Brown got his CDL license just so he could drive a bus.
“I like it. I don’t think of it as a burden.”
Brown got his love for education early. His parents were teachers, his grandfather a school custodian. “I was at school a lot.” He remembers playing school before he was old enough to attend.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in English education from UNC-Greensboro, and a master’s of school administration from Appalachian State University.
He taught for seven years at the first early college in Stokes County, where he became interested in administration. He was assistant principal at Cooleemee Elementary before moving to William R. Davie. “I got here and felt like I had hit the jackpot,” he said. “It feels like home, and I love that.”
“Being the child of an educator, you see the good and the bad. But I love it. Going into education was a calling for me.”
At the early college, he saw many first-generation college students. As an elementary school principal, he sees those stories start.
He still enjoys time in the classroom with students, but he also enjoys building relationships and helping people be successful in their jobs. “That’s what I get the most satisfaction from.”
School during the COVID pandemic is “just different,” Brown said. “We still have the same challenges … making sure our kids get what they need, that kids are safe. The biggest challenge is trying to make up ground for the time that they lost. But it’s starting to feel more like normal with everybody in the classrooms.”
Driving a bus, he sees children in a different way. He can see their homes, their attitudes as they first get on the bus.
And he doesn’t mind if those children see him pushing a broom.
Brown remembers his grandfather, a school custodian.
“He took a lot of pride in his work, so I learned at an early age the importance of every position. I don’t mind picking up a broom if I have to … and it allows me to see the school in a different way.”