McKinley Principal Colin Brown has been named the 2016 Arlington Public Schools Principal of the Year. Brown has been principal at McKinley for six years.
Brown said the recognition came as a great surprise, “I am really honored to receive this recognition and to represent Arlington’s great group of principals.”
Since becoming the principal at McKinley in 2010, Brown has fostered positive relationships within and outside of the school through the development of a shared vision. He believes fiercely in joint decision-making and works to ensure that all stakeholders are included in critical school decisions.
Brown said that his biggest accomplishment has been maintaining the idea of total collaboration with the community. “Collaborating with the community is what I wanted to do since I was selected for this position and I’ve stuck to it,” said Brown.
He also attributes his success to McKinley’s excellent staff, very supportive community and great students. “With those three things, you can’t go wrong,” said Brown.
His biggest challenge has been to maintain the level of excellence and success that McKinley has had over the years. “McKinley has a history of being successful. I want to keep that tradition of excellence,” said Brown.
According to Assistant Principal Eileen Wentzel, Brown lives by the adage “Work smarter, not harder.” Wentzel added, “Colin’s intelligence, thoughtful problem-solving and collaboration make McKinley a great place to learn and work. Add to it his positive energy and sense of humor and it’s easy to see why McKinley is unique.”
Students consider Brown easy to talk to. Swanson sixth grader Madeline Thompson explained, “He follows through on his word and does everything to make sure that all of the kids at McKinley are safe, healthy and happy. He is easy to talk to, funny and helpful.”
Wentzel also noted that while McKinley has been undergoing a major renovation/addition project in the past year, Brown has maintained a positive attitude and flexibility with families and the community. “Colin has created a seamless building process by working with parents, community members, APS Facilities members, architects and builders, significantly reducing anxiety and stress levels for many people,” said Wentzel.
“It’s because of the support of Facilities and Operations that we’ve been able to maintain a sense of calm even in the face of the construction,” said Brown.
Brown is admired by parents because of his open-door policy. Parents know that no matter what else he is working on or how pressing a deadline may be, he always has a minute. He practices “Pick up the phone and call” every time parents want to speak with him about any issue. “Colin is one of the most approachable people I know,” said PTA President Tammy Beatty. “His rapport with parents is unparalleled. His laid-back style makes everyone feel at ease and not at all apprehensive about going to him with questions or issues that arise.”
Brown has also been named as one of 17 finalists for The Washington Post’s 2016 Principal of the Year Award. Arlington Public Schools will recognize Brown, along with this year’s APS Teacher of the Year and Support Employees of the Year, on Wed, May 18 at Washington-Lee High School.