Spotlight On: Dana Brown

Interim principal Mr. Dana Brown joins the staff with the goal to help students and staff have a great year.


Mr. Brown begins his duties as Holyoke High principal. (photo credit: Bella Courchesne)

It’s an exciting start for the community of Holyoke’s 2017-2018 school year. As always with a new school year, there are many changes at Holyoke High School. One huge change in particular is the newly hired interim principal of Holyoke High, Mr. Dana Brown.

Growing up in Malden, a community just outside of Boston, Mr. Brown is still currently located there and travels an hour and a half every school day to get to Holyoke which truly shows his dedication. Recently, he found an apartment to spend a couple nights in and reduce traveling back and forth every day.

Brown graduated from Boston College and eventually received a Master’s Degree at the University of Massachusetts. He started off as a teacher of Math and Computer Programming, but eventually took a break from teaching. During his time away from teaching, he worked with private schools in after school programs.

When a job for principal opened up in his hometown, he applied and was hired at Malden High School where he remained for thirteen years. During his time there, and with the help of his staff, he increased the graduation rate, the amount of students who went on to attend college, the attendance rate, and test scores. He also decreased the dropout rate.

“The school became better because we had a great staff,” said Mr. Brown. “I had tremendous support from the community and families.”

Holyoke High needs a break, and I mean that in a good way.

— Dana Brown

Mr. Brown was previously also a coach for college teams including girl’s basketball and softball. Brown reflects on his experience as a coach and uses the skills he learned to help his job as principal. “Coaching is really teaching right, and teaching is really coaching” explains Mr. Brown.

Through his work at Malden, Mr. Brown met superintendent Dr. Zrike. When asked about his interest in the position of Holyoke High interim principal, Mr. Brown was reluctant to accept. He was worried about the travel and being to dedicate the amount of time the job deserves.

When Dr. Zrike explained that Holyoke High needed a leader quickly because of Mr. Sullivan’s departure and the school needed someone with the experience and willingness to help guide the redesign work, Brown eventually agreed to come out for a year to become principal and to help out Holyoke High as much as possible.

“It’s been stressful for Holyoke High,” said Brown. “Holyoke High needs a break, and I mean that in a good way.”

Brown hopes he can be the person to give Holyoke High the break it deserves.

“My job is to come in and build relationships with students, and families, and teachers and make sure safety is a priority, [and] make sure teaching and learning is a priority,” said Brown. “I think people just want a calm and safe school year where everyone can learn and grow and I’m hoping I can help other adults and students get there.”

One important statement guides Mr. Brown through his work as principal: “You can get there from here, where is your there?”

Mr. Brown feels that every student has a different dream and a different path. It’s up to both him and his staff to help the students and to support them on their way.

Mr. Brown was a guest on an edition of Radioplasma podcast by Herald staffers Bella Courchesne, Feroze Sibdhanny, and Siobhan Brennan – listen to it here.