To Robert Brown, his new role as Grandview Heights High School principal involves not just administration but also collaboration.

"I don't have all the answers," he said. "As an administrator, you see the whole dance floor, but that does not mean you're the best dancer."

As principal, Brown said, he will live by the adage that no one realizes their dreams without the help of others.

"As soon as I started talking with and meeting people, I understood what a true collaborative work environment we have here," he said. "I feel so fortunate to be joining such a caring and dedicated group of people.

"This is a great place in which to be new," he said.

Brown began Aug. 1 as principal, replacing Ken Chaffin, who accepted a position as principal at Early College High School in the Marysville Exempted Village School District.

Like Chaffin, Brown previously served as assistant principal at McCord Middle School in Worthington before coming to Grandview.

"Grandview has such a strong reputation as a great school district," he said. "I loved working in Worthington, but when I told people in Worthington that I was offered a job in Grandview, they all said, 'oh, yeah, that's something you've got to do.' "

Brown said he is excited about working in a smaller district.

"If this was a 2,000-student high school, I don't think I would have been interested in coming here," he said. "But in a school this size, I get to be in the trenches and get to be in the classroom. I get to build relationships with the staff and the students."

"My goal is to build relationships so we can accomplish things together," Brown said. "I'm not looking to impose my own system. I want to learn the system here, what has worked so well, then work collaboratively with the staff to find ways to enhance and improve what we're doing here.

"This is not a place where you have to come in and make a lot of changes," he said. "The success of what happens here speaks for itself."

The collaboration extends to students as well as teachers, Brown said.

"I've had a chance to meet a lot of the students already and you can tell they love their school and they love their teachers," he said. "They are given a voice in their school. They feel like they are a collaborative partner in the school."

Teachers in Grandview are willing to take chances and try new things to benefit their students, Brown said.

"The approach here is not to just rely on what's worked before," he said. "Sometimes you'll try something that doesn't work, but there is a willingness to try new things."

The result is that students aren't afraid to try new things themselves, Brown said.

"The kids here are involved in so many things, it's amazing. I don't know how they find the time," he said. "I was talking to one student who's on the football team and he's also in marching band and he's trying to figure out how he can do both. The great thing here is that teachers are willing to work with students and be flexible and work extra time if necessary so that students can do everything they want to do."

Brown started out working in business, not education.

"I was a financial-services specialist and I never liked it," he said.

"I found that I was working just to make someone else more money. The harder I worked, the harder it was for me to see what the end results were."

Then he started tutoring a cousin who was a special-needs student.

"I could see the end result working with her," Brown said. "I enjoyed watching her progress and I got such a rewarding feeling out of that -- so I quit my business job and got a master's in special education."

He worked as a special-education teacher at high schools in Hilliard.

"I loved working with my students in the classroom, but I wanted to do something where I could have an impact on a greater number of students, so I moved toward administration," Brown said.

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