The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sunday Profile

July 15, 2012

New leadership

BECKLEY — Raleigh County Superintendent James Brown was a freshman in college when he realized working with kids was his life’s path. He said he was offered the opportunity to work with the Special Olympics and it was his experience bonding with a young girl that made him realize the educational system was an area in which he could make a difference.

And his philosophy today is still that the school systems should be based on what is best for children.

“We are stewards of children and parents instill trust in us. We have to make sure we respect that trust and accountability is the key. We want to make sure that all children have the opportunity to explore their dreams — whether the dreams are entering the work force, attending college, learning a vocational trade or joining the military,” he said.

“Our job is to maximize their potential.”

Over the past two weeks on the job, Brown has met with the central office administrators and learned about the schools’ success and looked at the current five-year strategic plan. He said the critical starting place for the county is to revamp the plan to focus on the district’s work.

“There is a really solid plan in place and we want to take that plan and build on it. Raleigh County Schools has been a model for the state for many years, but we know education is changing. We really have to focus on broadening our expectations so students are equipped with those 21st-century skills they need to be successful,” he explained.

He said that the next several years will focus on infusing technology into instructional practices and making sure students are going to be competitive within the school, state and global society.

One key element, because technology progresses so quickly, will be to invest in the types of technology that will be sustainable and won’t be outdated over a period of time, he said.

In terms of infrastructure, Raleigh County and Raleigh County Schools are very solid, he said, but over the next two years, the state-mandated adoption of downloadable, digital books will be a “very powerful step” for the county and state.

“That is an area of concern and focus for us as we look at how we are going to develop that plan and implement it on a large scale,” Brown said.

Brown added that he has tremendous respect for former superintendent Dr. Charlotte Hutchens.

“She has truly left a remarkable legacy as superintendent. We want to build upon her success,” he explained.

He also stresses that, for him, the superintendent’s job is to drive a team.

“I truly believe in the distribution of leadership. That is one thing I am going to concentrate on at the district and school levels, making sure we have highly effective leadership teams to drive the work with the help of teachers and support personnel. Leadership is not a top-down model in my mind.

“We are going to make decisions based on what is best for children. We have to support our teachers and personnel to make sure they have the tools and resources to do the job,” he added.

He believes that becoming a father to a son (now college-age) made him a stronger teacher and administrator. As a parent he understood what it meant to entrust his son to the care of his teachers and the school system.

Brown came to Raleigh County after spending two years as the state-appointed superintendent of McDowell County Schools. Before that he worked for the state Department of Education in the Department of Special Programs where he made sure special education programs across the state were in compliance. Prior to that, Brown spent 23 years in Tyler County as a teacher, principal and central office administrator.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Sunday Profile
  • New river 10 VIDEO: New River shows off Arts and Science Building

    Surveying the sun-drenched, soaring student center inside New River Community and Technical College’s newly renovated Arts and Science Building, it’s difficult to imagine that as recently as a year ago a rabbit warren of 20 windowless offices occupied this space.

    March 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • gee1 Home to these hills

    New West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee is no stranger to West Virginia’s rolling hills.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • randy veggies and chips Accountability helps Fayetteville man change his lifestyle, improve his health

    In his late 40s, Randy Housh’s energy slowly dropped. He just felt tired a lot. His feet sometimes went numb. It had been coming on for a while. “I just felt blah most of the time,” he recalls.

    March 2, 2014 2 Photos

  • 021614 News Christian 3.jpg City Chief

    Within his first two weeks as Beckley Police chief, Lonnie Christian has already made some major changes at the department.

    February 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • McNeely to run for delegate seat

    James W. “Jim” McNeely has announced his candidacy for the 28th District of West Virginia House of Delegates Democratic Primary.

    February 9, 2014

  • smoke ad1 The real cost

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants teenagers to know the “real cost” of smoking — and it’s not measured in dollars. Teens who pick up a cigarette habit will wind up paying with their skin, their teeth and even their freedom, a new ad campaign warns.

    February 9, 2014 3 Photos

  • 020214 Money Dr. Hale 1.jpg Coming home to southern West Virginia

    Johnathon Hale grew up in southern West Virginia, graduating from Liberty High School in 2001. He enjoyed the people and culture of this area and made it a goal to return after he received his formal education.

    February 2, 2014 3 Photos

  • VA lambert Healthy Veterans, Healthy Communities

    Veterans’ health benefits are an important part of honoring our military for the sacrifices they made for our freedom. In keeping with the continuing provision of health options, the Veterans Health Administration is employing a team approach to providing excellent care.

    January 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • church 7 Living room worship

    It was early 2011 when church leaders at Beckley’s United Methodist Temple began devising a plan for the future of their ministries.

    January 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • hospice hallway fbf.jpg Amazing Grace

    John Brenemen was devastated.

    January 12, 2014 3 Photos