Paul M. Brown Secondary School, of Course

The HWDSB is now asking for public input into the naming of the new mountain school to be located somewhere south of the Linc. There is a strong following who believe that school should be named after Paul M. Brown, a teacher who passed away last December 17th. Of course, we all know that this would be a great accomplishment! But it’s up to all of us to convince the school board of this.

So I went through their school naming policy and reviewed the criteria for suggestions. I think you’ll find this kind of interesting…

The name for a new school must reflect HWDSB’s vision, mission, commitments and community composition.

Nobody did this better than Paul.

The HWDSB’s MISSION STATEMENT – Providing relevant, responsive education so that each student becomes a life-long learner and contributing citizen in a diverse world – almost comes close to defining Paul as a teacher. Paul didn’t just relate, interact, and connect. He inspired, encouraged, and uplifted. He took students who didn’t want to be in school and taught them to believe in themselves. He took students who wanted to learn and lit them on fire. Every student lucky enough to have Paul as a teacher – and a great many who never actually sat in one of his classrooms! – carries lessons learned per curriculum and beyond well into adulthood. Paul taught by lecture, book and example, preparing his students for more than just graduation!

The Board’s VALUES – Respect, Creativity, Excellence, Citizenship – are just a few of Mr. Brown’s values. Add to that integrity, accountability, acceptance, responsibility, ambition, charity, and a host of other values, and you begin to get the picture.

And as for their VISION – All students achieving their full potential – Paul did his best to make all of his students recognize their own potential, believing that you can’t achieve what you don’t perceive.

The school’s name must provide inspiration to students.

Paul struggled as a student. Through elementary and high school, he was told he would likely finish high school but no more. He took ‘3’ and ‘2’ level courses, and believed in his fate. After graduating high school, the first in his family, he set off to work in a factory. It wasn’t long before  he decided he wanted more. He went back to upgrade, working two and three part time jobs all the while. His dream was to attend Carleton University in Ottawa, but he barely met their acceptance requirements. Refusing to take no for an answer, Paul argued his case, writing letters, attending interviews, and convincing the admissions board that he was worth the risk. They took him in on a semester by semester probation. He worked his way through, never having less than two jobs, finishing his degree in four years. He graduated with a BA in Criminal Psychology. The confidence and pride he won with this accomplishment changed his entire life plan. Teaching was simply his way of paying it forward. In his mind, if he could do it, every other student had potential beyond their own imaginings. And he made sure they saw that.

The name must have community and district acceptance.

I have yet to run into anyone, anywhere, who didn’t think the world of Paul. I have never heard of anyone, ever, who was as universally admired and welcomed as he was. Honestly, if there is anyone out there who would be accepting of this, I’m sure they would be considered the same ilk as that guy who scooped the homerun baseball from the glove of the little boy…

The name must be appropriate for the whole district.

As a teacher with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, a loyal and dedicated employee, who taught at several different high schools, coached several teams, was actively involved in skills development, career growth, union endeavours, interdisciplinary studies, safe schools, extracurricular supervision, and special education, Paul crossed paths with virtually everyone in the Board.

The name must have local community, district, provincial, Canadian or International significance.

Paul’s impact as a teacher was only a small part of who he was. As a baseball player on the same rec team for over 20 years, Paul’s influence was far reaching. He expanded his involvement to coaching, and later to umping, achieving his Provincial card and turning the task of umping teenagers’ games into an art, regularly overseeing games and tournaments at several Hamilton area parks. Paul remained a part-time respite worker for Banyan, at Arrell Youth Detention Center, spreading his unique style of teaching to those who needed it most. His involvement in the corrections community far exceeded his part-time status. Paul stepped onto the stage during his last two years, melting himself into the hearts of two local theatre groups with no effort at all. The Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton, the OPP and Haldimand Regional Police, Carleton Alumni Association, Niagara Falls Immigration offices, Niagara College, and the OSSTF all benefited from Paul’s energy and enthusiasm.

The name must address underrepresented groups

Paul could easily be defined as universal. As a black man himself, he could easily, and respectfully, represent the black community. But Paul’s capacity for tolerance of all people, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, culture, religion, or level of ability, made him champion for all. He may have seemed so to the world at large, but we know he lived by example. With a mixed race marriage, and five biracial kids, three of whom were adopted, and one of whom has Down syndrome, Paul was the epitome of diversity! The underprivileged, the strugglers, the gifted, the challenged, of any age, in any station, all found compassion, understanding, and a raw lack of pity in Paul’s support. That kind of acceptance qualifies Paul to speak for all of us.

Paul’s energy and zest for life was an example to be followed. He inspired his peers, motivated his students, and encouraged their families. He taught beyond the teachable. To name, of all things, a school after him, would be a testament to his character, his passion, and his spirit.

The facebook page to support the naming of Paul M. Brown Secondary School can be found here.

Click here to link to the Board’s webpage where you can complete the survey.

Or click here to find links to the Board Trustees to write a letter/email outlining your support.

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