'A passion for education': A few words with Urbana High's new principal


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These days, you can catch DELORIS BROWN in her office — it's now the one marked "principal" at Urbana High School.

Or, for the occasional special occasion, on the court, where the former three-sport high school athlete still likes to play a pick-up game now and again — especially if it's with students.

"Maybe on a special Friday, I'll come play with them," she says. "I think I could play any sport — badminton, tennis, you name it."

Tuesday night, the part-time athlete and full-time educator received the Urbana school board's approval to fill the high school principal vacancy created by Matt Stark's departure in late May.

Just prior, the Illinois State grad and recent Stephen Decatur Middle School principal sat down to talk all things Urbana — and how she got the job in the first place — with staff writer Lyndsay Jones.

What inspired you to be an educator?

"I've always had a passion for education and children. My parents were very involved in my education experience. I had five other siblings and my parents were Cub Scout and Girls Scout leaders — my mother serves as a regional secretary of the National Parent Teacher Association to this day. It seemed like a natural profession to join."

What brought you to Urbana?

"Honestly, the real commitment to equity and what we're doing in regards to restorative practises and making sure all students have an equitable experience. I've always watched the job postings around Champaign-Urbana because I am aware of the innovation and the bold move the district is making in regards to equity. You don't see that everywhere."

What's been the biggest surprise so far?

"The real passion and community that all the stakeholders have. I'm amazed at the dedication of the staff — they're dedicated to making sure all students have an equitable learning experience. Everybody is on board, which makes it all a little easier."

What are your plans for the first year?

"I want to build upon what's already here — it's really to build those relationships and enlarge opportunities for students. I'll be looking at enlarging dual credit and increasing grad rates. My goal is to make sure that we do reach our school improvement goals."

How's your time spent outside of work?

"With my family and my friends. I stay busy. I do a lot of reading and research — I'm a reflective practitioner so I'm always seeing how I can be better in any area.

"I love to travel. I've been to California a few times. I love the wine country — Temecula, Napa Valley. My favorite place has been St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. I've been to England, France and Dublin. That international experience definitely helps with my educational philosophy."

What's something that might surprise students to learn about you?

"I was a three-sport athlete in high school: I played basketball, softball and volleyball. Sometimes I play with the kids. When the NBA season starts, I watch that, but I don't really follow one team. I usually root for the underdog.

"I also used to play an instrument. I was well-versed, so I understand creating and supporting these opportunities for students."


Lyndsay Jones is a reporter covering education at The News-Gazette. Her email is ljones@news-gazette, and you can follow her on Twitter (@__lyndsayjones).