Not many people get the unique opportunity that Dawson County Educator Brody Hughes got this year.
Taking on a new position as Principal of Dawson County Junior High School, Hughes can now bridge the gap between his school and Dawson County High School, where he also once served as principal.
And so far, things are going well, according to Hughes.
“We’re off to a great start of the school year; it’s going really really well,” Hughes said. “There’s great staff here that’s really embraced what we’re working on and the direction we’re headed in.”
Hughes said that, so far, the biggest difference between his new role and what he did at the high school is the amount of time he gets to spend with younger students, rather than the high schoolers he had worked with for the past eight years.
“It’s definitely different; going from there to here there’s a difference in the age group which is fun,” Hughes said. “You get to see kids kind of come into their own and learn who they are and what they’re good at.”
Another difference Hughes has noticed is that in his old role at the high school there was always so much happening after school, whereas at the junior high school the students are much less busy in the afternoon.
“There’s not as much stuff happening all day here; I miss that part of it and I don’t miss that part of it,” Hughes said. “It’s nice to have more time to focus on the educational aspects of it.”
Due to the beginning of the school year being different from any other because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hughes said that it’s been a little bit longer of a process getting to know his students than it would have been otherwise.
“Generally at the beginning of the year we’d have a class meeting, but we didn’t do that because of the covid stuff so I wasn’t able to get up in front of the student body in person and say ‘I’m your principal’,” Hughes said. “So it’s funny because it’s taken a lot of them a quick minute to figure out I’m the principal.”
One of the things Hughes has helped start at the junior high school since starting his new position is the addition of a new class, Intro to Career Pathways.
“It’s an eighth grade class that we haven’t had before, and basically it allows students to kind of get a taste of everything that we offer here in Dawson County,” Hughes said. “So they do mini units on engineering, culinary arts, business education, marketing education, healthcare — they’re getting a small taste of all the things that we offer which then will help them decide what pathway they’re interested in.”
Most of the eighth graders at the junior high school are taking the new class, and Hughes said that it has been beneficial to helping them figure out what pathway they might want to take once they get to the high school.
“When I got students at the high school they were tenth graders and had already kinda decided what direction they were going in, so right now it’s really fun to watch the younger students here decide what they like and what they’re interested in,” Hughes said.
Even though Hughes has moved to the junior high school, he and his staff, along with Dawson County High School Principal Negley and her staff, have been working to bridge the gap between the two schools.
With Hughes’ background at the high school and Negley’s background in education, it’s only natural for the two schools to grow closer, he said.
“We’re in separate buildings, but you have to collaborate and understand,” Hughes said. “That partnership is growing stronger, and I’m excited to see what we’re able to accomplish in the next few years.”
“I’m just blessed to be here and proud to be a small part of it,” he said.