Director of Public Relations, Dublin City Schools
By the time Moore Street School principal Brian Howell marched up to the front door of a Village Circle area apartment, the thermometer was as close to triple digits as it could get without cresting beyond the century mark.
It would have been hard to tell by Howell’s attire, though — long-sleeved dress shirt and bow tie snug around his collar—but he was busy attempting to make the latest in a series of good first impressions with parents of the students he will welcome to his campus in less than a week. In an unorthodox move, Howell chose not to wait until the customary Open House and instead began a door-to-door approach to meeting parents and students, in hopes of kicking off his first year at the helm of Dublin City’s alternative and behavioral school.
“I really took heed to (Dublin City Superintendent) Dr. (Fred) Williams’ vision of having us step into a new millennium and take a new approach to education,” said Howell, who is entering his 18th year in education. “I thought to myself, ‘Parents usually only see an administrator at their home when a student has done something wrong; why not start the year with me introducing myself to them at their homes?”
Howell has spent the last week visiting students all over the city limits, stopping at homes on the Southside of town, along Telfair Street or, as was the case this particular day, in the Village Circle area.
He said he wasn’t sure what sort of reception he would garner when he knocked on the door, but Howell added that he’s been more than pleased with the results that have come from him taking time to meet parents and guardians in their “comfort zones.”
“Everybody has received me well,” Howell said. “I think it’s easier for them to share their concerns because they’re in their comfort zones. It gives them a chance to talk and say, ‘This is what I like,’ and, ‘This is what I don’t like.”
Prior to his role as Moore Street principal, Howell spent a half-decade with Dublin City Schools, followed by a 12-year stint at Laurens County Schools where he oversaw that system’s alternative and behavioral program: The Diamond Academy. He said his time at the Diamond Academy, along with his collaborative work with former Moore Street principal Emory Bostic, gave him plenty of insight and experience he hopes to put to work when classes resume Aug. 5.
“It helped me build a great foundation,” Howell said. “And Mr. Bostic was a mentor. I was looking at our school handbook the other day and had to call him, because his handbook looked so much like my handbook.”
Howell said he hopes to complete his door-to-door visits next week, and wants to make this a regular occurrence so that parents see that he and his staff have a vested interest in their children’s success.
“They, like every other parent or guardian, are sending me the best they have,” Howell said, “and all they want is the best for their children. I want them to know that’s what we want for their children, too.”