Soldotna, June 11, 2020—Rising like a Phoenix, Chris Brown consistently greets his own inquisitive single-digit age children with delight. At Homer Flex High School, his smile and twinkling eyes offer a welcoming presence to each teen who walks through the door and pauses to remove shoes in the foyer to enter a new day of learning. Principal Brown says, “They are genuinely excited to be here and a part of our community. They show up having overcome obstacles and barriers beyond anything I have experienced.”
Students at “Flex” awaken to personal responsibility, and land into a sense of family and belonging supported by Principal Brown and the Homer Flex team. Restorative practices, social and emotional learning, teacher support, and group time accompany their academics to graduation. School becomes a classroom for life.
Named the 2020 Region III Principal of the Year, the Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP) recognize Brown for his pivotal role in student success. He stepped into leadership at Flex five years ago, following five years of teaching in the school. He focuses on professional development opportunities to keep staff engaged—and his attention to staff needs and policy changes equates to an impressive 100 percent staff retention spanning more than four years.
“Homer Flex High School respects student choice to live an adult life; therefore, we require that they accept the responsibilities required to be a successful adult,” says Brown. “It is our mission to facilitate students’ academic, vocational, and social and emotional skills toward success in their postsecondary lives. We encourage self-motivation and self-direction, respect for self, respect for others, and respect for the world in which we live.”
Principal Brown worked with the National Council and the Southern Kenai Peninsula Resiliency Coalition to implement Trauma Informed Practices in school, and is a strong advocate for small schools and underserved populations. He focuses on incorporating and prioritizing mental health in schools and is a Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer.
He is instrumental in introducing Restorative Practices to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, and Superintendent John O’Brien says, “I applaud the leadership Principal Brown has shown in the area of restorative justice—his leadership has positively transformed the culture of Homer Flex. He is the epitome of a student centered educational leader and a tireless advocate for his students. Regional Principals of The Year are eligible to be in the running for the statewide Alaska Principal of The Year, and I wholeheartedly hope this additional recognition is awarded to Principal Brown—he would be an excellent choice.”