Celebrating National Principals Month: Nelson Brown, Athens City

Nelson Brown
Athens Renaissance School
Athens City Schools

Dr. Nelson Brown is the principal of Athens Renaissance School, a K-12 blended and virtual education program in Athens City. He served as teacher, assistant principal, and principal in Madison City prior to joining ARS in 2017. Brown earned his Bachelor of Science in Education from Athens State University, his Master of Science from the University of West Alabama, and Ed.S. and Ed.D. degrees from Walden University. He and his wife Suzie have three sons, Nelson Jr., Kobe, and Branden.

How long have you been a principal?

This is my 9th year as a principal.

Briefly describe your education journey.

I started out as a 6th grade teacher in Madison City Schools. I then served as an assistant principal before becoming a principal at two Madison City schools, Columbia Elementary and Liberty Middle. In 2017, I accepted a leadership role at the Athens Renaissance School, a program of Athens City Schools. (Learn more about this special “blended school” here.)

What are 2-3 insights you would share with others who want to become principals?

 Be prepared to:

  • Treat people (students, parents, faculty, etc.) the way you want to be treated.
  • Seek and value input from others.
  • Reflect and make adjustments when needed.

What keeps you up at night and what gets you out of bed in the morning?

Thinking about how to continuously get better as a school keeps me up sometimes. There are always ways to get better.

Trying out those new ideas that I was up thinking about – or ideas that others have shared – gets me going in the mornings. Remembering that every good decision our team makes can positively impact our students is very satisfying.

What is your favorite leadership book (or books)?

It’s difficult to pick one.  I like anything by Jim Knight or John C. Maxwell.

In what ways do you network with other educators outside your school? How do you create opportunities for your own professional learning?

I participate in as many quality professional learning opportunities as I can. The ABPC Key Leaders Network, in particular, has helped my professional growth. Athens City also has very high quality professional development in which I participate and make connections with colleagues.

In addition, I try to attend national conferences when I can. ARS is a new kind of school and it’s good to build connections with others who are doing similar kinds of work. iNACOL, ISTE, and Model Schools are some of the national conferences that I have attended recently and made some valuable connections and new relationships.