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How Gwenell Brown’s ties to Fair Street will help her lead it
New Holland administrator finds homecoming as new principal
Gwenell Brown.jpg
Gwenell Brown

Gwenell Brown is feeling lucky these days. Not in a “hit-the-jackpot” kind of way, but rather as someone who feels like a lifelong dream has come to hard-earned fruition.

Brown will replace Will Campbell as principal at Fair Street International Academy in Gainesville for the 2018-19 academic year.

Campbell has accepted the job of superintendent of the Rush City, Minn., public school district.

“As an alumna of Fair Street, Mrs. Brown is eager to lead the next phase, and we look forward to her leadership in the community,” Gainesville Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said. “She brings a wealth of experience from elementary school, specifically with academics and interventions, that will build on Fair Street’s recent growth.”

Brown has served as assistant principal at New Holland Knowledge Academy for the past 10 years. She spent the past few weeks meeting with Fair Street leadership teams and academic coaches.

She has also met frequently with Campbell to review academic and student achievement data, and to better understand unique learning programs at Fair Street.

Brown said a leadership summit the first week in June will be critical in helping her and her staff prepare for the next school year.

“I know I got a lot to do, and I’m ready to get started,” Brown said.

In the meantime, Brown also will spend time introducing herself to students and their families, she said.

But she’s ahead of the curve on this front, having been raised at the former Atlanta Street public housing complex that was located near the school, so it’s a bit of a homecoming for her after 23 years teaching in the Gainesville City School System.

“I used to walk to school every day,” Brown said. “I was excited going to school there.”

“My dream was always to teach at Fair Street,” Brown said, adding that her only opportunities thus far came in the form of summer school classes. “But it still wasn’t what I really wanted.”

The name Fair Street is practically synonymous with the community it serves, a largely African-American neighborhood with a growing number of Latino families. Support from local organizations and residents gives Brown great confidence that she’ll be supported and assisted as needed, she said.

“Because I know the community, (the transition) will be easier to do,” Brown added. “It’s a community school. ... To know that I’ll be there to lead the school, it’s just a dream come true.”