First day at school

Jerry Brown had his first official day as the new principal of Butler Elementary Wednesday.

Before coming to the Fort Dodge Community School District, Brown served the Cedar Falls school district as early childhood director for three years. He was also elementary principal and curriculum director at Howard Winneshiek Community School District for seven years, K-8 principal in Jesup for three years and K-6 principal in Lanesboro, Minn., for two years.

“This is my 31st year in education,” Brown said Wednesday. “I started out as a classroom teacher. I did that six years.”

Brown, who has a master’s degree in counseling from University of Northern Iowa, enjoys working most with those students who have difficulties.

“I really enjoyed working with kids that had kind of some little hiccups in their life as far as dealing with academics or behaviors,” he said. “That was interesting to me.”

Brown said he brings his experience to Butler.

“I think any time you’re moving around to different communities and school districts and buildings you’re going to grab something different from everyone, and I hope some of those experiences I bring in here will be new, creative, innovative,” he said. “Being a curriculum director, I was able to see some creative cutting-edge type of things in the educational system.”

He added, “The main thing you have to bring to any school where you’re at is you have to work at relationships.”

Brown this month has become acquainted with Butler’s after-school program BLAST.

“The BLAST program sounds like a great idea,” he said. “It sounds like funding might become an issue with that, how to continue such a good program that is needed for latchkey kids. That’s going to be important to those families.”

Having been a teacher, a counselor for nine years and school principal for about 15 years, Brown said he enjoys being an administrator most.

“I do tell people that administration is one thing I have enjoyed the most,” he said. “I think the reason is that while I was a counselor I found out it was very enjoyable working with the entire staff. You have a very strong influence on how they work with kids on a daily basis. As a classroom teacher, in essence I thought I affected 22 to 23 kids, how many kids were in my classroom in a given year.”

As a principal, Brown said, he can influence not only every student in the school, but the staff as well.

“The principal has that influence on the whole staff because I think the principal sets the tone for the building,” he said. “You show you have that approach to kids and hope that wears off on staff.”

There is one thing Brown does not look forward to as much: “getting to know their names.”

“With kids, teachers, it’s important you direct with their names,” he said. “For example, I see a student who’s a little bit rambunctious down the hallway, you can say their name and work with them, instead of saying ‘hey, you.’ That’s going to take at least until Christmas to get to know the 500 kids’ names, as much as the parents’ names as possible. It takes time.”

Once he learns their names, though, he hopes his students will never forget his.