McKinley Elementary School Principal Colin Brown has been named the 2016 Arlington Public Schools Principal of the Year. Brown has been principal at McKinley for six years.
Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said, “Colin is a highly skilled educator and leader who fosters cooperation between the school and the community. He encourages creativity and innovation among his staff, is an effective manager, and recognizes the importance of building relationships with families and the community that support McKinley’s students.” Murphy continued, “Over the past year, McKinley has been undergoing major renovations. During that time, Colin has continued to focus on the priority that students receive a high-quality education. He has been able to do so by effectively communicating with families, staff, and students during this period of transition.”
Brown earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English Instruction from Virginia Tech and a Master of Arts degree from George Mason University. He recently completed course requirements for a Doctorate in Education from the University of Virginia.
Brown began his career teaching English/Language Arts at Kenmore and Jefferson Middle Schools. In 1997, he was named acting assistant principal at Jefferson. Brown then became an assistant principal at Washington-Lee High School in 1999, where he served for seven years before moving to Tuckahoe Elementary School as assistant principal in 2006.
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.
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.
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 Colin 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.