Classrooms are open to student-owned technology with teacher approval. Services are streamlined with students reporting to the same three people for any and all problems be it attendance, behavior or scheduling.
And all students are assigned to a “Raider Advocate,” a campus staff member who they can go to for support.
These changes, while significant in and of themselves, point to Brown's larger priorities. These include increasing student involvement, improving academic performance and promoting college readiness.
“I have a very, very firm belief, it's not a philosophy, it's just a deep-seeded belief that all students can learn,” Brown said. “And they can. That's our job as educators to define the mechanisms and the structures to afford them the greatest opportunity to have success.”
Raised in East Texas, Brown, 47, is the son of two educators. Hired in June, he came to Tyler from Wylie, where he served at Wylie High School for seven years.
He has 25 years of education experience in four North and East Texas school districts.
“My passion is education,” Brown said, recalling his decision to go into the field in college. “I know it is.”
That passion comes through not only in his enthusiasm for quality instruction, but also his desire to see students succeed in the classroom and beyond.
“Red Raiders Rising” is the slogan featured prominently around campus on banners and now silicone wristbands.
It's a nod not only to the Lee mascot, but also to Brown's optimism and belief that this campus has great things ahead.
“To me 'Red Raiders Rising' … it's just continuous improvement in everything that we're doing,” he said. “We're looking to get better.”
Although he views the students' school experience holistically, Brown's priority is academic instruction.
That's what his meetings with staff members are focused on and that is what he views as his primary leadership role.
“We're going to improve the overall level of academics that are taking place on our campus,” he said. “And as a result of that, as that increases, I think all of the areas of the campus … will, just as a byproduct, show improvement.”
He has been intentional about emphasizing success in discussion with campus staff and among the student body.
His weekly Raider Report praises the accomplishments of students and staff alike. And he is broad in his approach recognizing achievement in academics, athletics, community service and more.
“I believe in strengths versus weaknesses,” he said. “In other words, play to your strengths, focus on your strengths, celebrate your successes and I think you pull people up,” he said. “Instead of if you focus on the negatives and the weaknesses, what's not well, you pull people down.”
Some of the changes that Brown has made might seem minor to some, but they have made a difference on student life, he said.
First, he opened the campus to student technology meaning students can use their cellphones, iPads or other technology devices in class if the teacher allows.
The effect is that many, if not, most students have what amounts to a computer at their fingertips and they can use that in the learning environment, he said.
“The design was not to try to win over the students, but they certainly appreciated it,” Brown said. “The design was … I want to treat young people like young adults, and give them as much responsibility as possible and help them understand how to manage that responsibility.”
Brown also reorganized the student service process so that three people — an administrator, counselor and administrative assistant — are paired with a group of about 400 students.
Before, the students had to go to different offices for different issues and there seemed to be limited communication between the offices, Brown said.
Finally, he has created the Raider Advocates program, which assigns 15 to 20 students to a specific staff member on campus, so they have another adult to go to.
“The more adults that they're interacting with in a positive way, I think the greater influence that we can have,” he said.
Brown said he's been impressed with the students as well as the amount of parental and community engagement and support.
“They're very eager to see good things happen,” he said. “I don't think our students in any way, shape, form or fashion are hanging on some type of a negative.”
And neither is he. Brown said he sees no barrier to high achievement on this campus. It's just going to take belief on the part of students, faculty and even the community that they can get there, he said.
“If you've got students that are solid kids, that want to do well and I think they're eager and hungry for good things to happen,” he said, “then … it's just a matter of putting the pieces of the puzzle in the right place and letting it happen.”
Brown is married to Melinda, a second-grade teacher at Ramey Elementary School. They have three daughters, Lanie, 18, Haley, 13 and Katie, 11.