Saying goodbye to the “White Hat”

Terry+Brownlow+%28left%29+and+Erica+Kosiorek+%28right%29
Terry Brownlow (left) and Erica Kosiorek (right)

Terry Brownlow (left) and Erica Kosiorek (right)

Terry Brownlow (left) and Erica Kosiorek (right)

Melissa Ellin, Contributing Writer

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At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Solon High School will be saying goodbye to Assistant Principal Terry Brownlow. After twenty years of work at SHS, Brownlow said that it’s time for her to move on.

“The expectations of a high school administrator [are] a lot of coverage, a lot [of] night time,” Brownlow said. “It’s a lot of time, and I just don’t want to go to prom anymore… Not that it’s bad, I’m just done with it.”

But Brownlow made it clear that she would miss SHS, and that she will look back on it with the fondest of memories. She said that she put in hours of grueling work over the years to ensure that students could have the best education possible.

“My job really is to work with the staff here,” Brownlow said. “My main responsibility is to ensure that what goes on in the classrooms, curricularly, instructional, assessment-wise, is the best for kids in relationship to preparing them for the next steps of their lives, as well as the state test, ACT, SAT, [and] getting them ready for college.”

Additionally, Brownlow worked closely with the Special Education Department to make sure that those students were getting what they needed. But this meant that she did not get to connect with students on the same level as her colleagues, as she spent most of her time working with the teachers and administrators.

Nonetheless, her impact on the school was not dulled. Although students may not realize who she is, she said she liked to think of herself as the “White Hat,” the unsung hero of the staff. Ninth grade English teacher Kelly Tailford remarked on how helpful Brownlow was.

“There was one point last year when I was really frustrated with the switch over to doing so many of the online Edulastic tests, and I sent her an email,” Tailford said.  “And I think my subject title was something like ‘Sending out the Bat-Signal.’ And I said ‘I’m struggling, and I don’t feel like I’m doing right by my students right now because of this situation. And maybe we need to figure out what we can do.’ And so it’s been a little bit of a joke, ‘Sending out the Bat-Signal,’ but I know that if I ever send out the Bat-Signal that she is there.”

It is this passion and dedication to her job, students and  coworkers that both Tailford and Assistant Principal Erica Kosiorek say made her such a great person to work with.

“It’s a huge loss… With her passion, and her dedication, she’ll be truly missed,” Kosiorek said.

But Brownlow added that the impact she has made will hopefully not be forgotten. She has implemented many programs over the years, including highly successful professional learning communities (groups of teachers that teach the same course meeting and planning the schedule for the class). She also facilitated many state testing transitions throughout her years here. She said that she hopes the processes she installed, and the number one ranking that Solon has received, will be her legacy after she has left.

“Solon, and Solon High School in particular, has been one of the top high schools academically for many, many years, and the work that I do here, that’s the payoff,” Brownlow said. “And not only on the report card, but the successes of our kids. Our kids do what they want to do. They’re prepared. Every year teachers come and tell me how they hear from their graduates about how ready they are, about how far ahead they are.”

Then again, the stress of a top tier high school has taken its toll on Brownlow. Brownlow conveyed the high stress involved with working at SHS, and how she uses humor to combat it.

“Sometimes you just [have to] sit back and laugh, because if you don’t, you will lose your mind,” Brownlow said.

And while she is leaving behind the stress and rigor of the high school, she is not leaving Solon. Next year, Brownlow will continue her career at the Solon preschool and work with the special education system. She will be taking on the same role as overseer of student learning, but for a much younger age group.

Brownlow said that it has been a hard year, especially knowing it will be her last, but her friend and coworker, Kosiorek, said she believes Brownlow will not really be leaving altogether.

“We’ve developed not only a working relationship, but a personal relationship, so I don’t know that there is saying goodbye,” Kosiorek said. “[I would tell her] to make sure that she keeps her phone on, because I’m sure we’ll be calling her often for advice and recommendations. But this isn’t a goodbye, we will continue to have a relationship even though she’s leaving the high school.”

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