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This is our 16th installment in the What is a DSQ?” blog series.
 
Some people develop a passion for education, and some are born with it. Dr. Landon Brown, director of school quality (DSQ) at National Heritage Academies (NHA), claims he was born to become a teacher and school leader. At four years old, Dr. Brown went to work with his mom, who was a special education teacher. It wasn’t long after being at the school, his mom found her son reading to a room of kindergarten students, who sat in silence listening to him.
 

“I knew I wanted to be a teacher from a young age,” said Dr. Brown. “Before I was even born, school saved my family. My parents lived in high poverty, and school saved them. As a family we fully embraced the teaching profession. No matter how much money I made or how many material things I had, I wanted to really do something that would make a difference.”
 
Dr. Brown is passionate about seeing school as a magical place. “There are kids who are first generation ‘college-ready’ students, and they deserve equal access to educational excellence,” he said. “I want to be a part of the process of equalizing those conditions. It’s about relationships and making the curriculum relevant. Sometimes you have to add a little ‘flava’ to make it applicable to reach the kids.”
 
A key focus area for Dr. Brown, which he did his dissertation on during college, is leading and inspiring young African American boys. “I’m part of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. At Emerson Academy, we partnered with the fraternity to come in and serve as mentors to our kids, and that still is continuing on to this day,” he said.
 

Being highly relational is a strength of Dr. Brown’s. He explained that in order to lead and instruct students, you must have an understanding of where they come from and be able to meet them where they are. It’s much bigger than only teaching reading and mathematics. “I want everyone to have a sense of belonging when they are with me,” he said. “As a DSQ it’s important to me that no matter how far apart the schools are, they are all connected. I'm looking forward to bringing my ability to galvanize others to create successful partnerships that help each of us thrive.”
 
To partner with his passion for educational equity, Dr. Brown is passionate about inspiring academic change and excellence within a school community. For example, he was a driving force for Emerson Academy’s significant growth on the Ohio state report card in 2019, moving from an F grade to an overall C grade. Emerson Academy was one of only three schools in Dayton to advance two letter grades in one academic year.
 
For Dr. Brown, the NHA difference is the emphasis placed on educating the whole child and the knowledge and understanding that schools are unique. “It's not a one-size-fits-all. Principals are given earned autonomy to implement strategies to support their school,” he said. “Also, the Moral Focus virtues. They guide our work and decision-making process.”
 
Of the nine Moral Focus virtues, integrity is Dr. Brown’s favorite because it entails doing the right thing, even if it is hard. “I want my kids to make the right choice,” he said. “When they come to that cross-section in a road, I want them to choose what’s right even when no one is watching.”
 

Before he joined NHA, Dr. Brown worked at a school district in Atlanta, Ga. for 16 years as a teacher and administrator. He is now in his 24th year of education and is eager to transition from serving as a school principal to a DSQ. Not to mention, he’s happy to get back to his southern roots and support NHA’s Louisiana schools.
 
His portfolio of schools includes Advantage Charter Academy, Inspire Charter Academy, and Willow Charter Academy.

Upon hearing his story, Dr. Brown hopes that individuals understand that no matter what your background is, no matter how much dysfunction you’ve had, keep your head up. “You have to keep moving forward because when it seems as though you’re right on the edge of success, it gets hard. But, if you get through it, you will make it, and it will be worth the challenge and work.”