age: 30 | Principal | Liberty-Eylau Elementary School
For Dr. Brandon Thurston, it is important that his faculty, staff, and students at Liberty-Eylau Elementary School follow him for the right reasons. “As a campus leader, there is a massive difference in people responding to you because you are the campus administrator and them following you because they support your vision, love you as a person, and trust your judgment and your heart,” he said. “I’m grateful that I have experienced the latter [at the schools where I’ve led].”
Full trust in a leader’s judgment and heart is hard to come by, but Dr. Thurston has the receipts to show his commitment to his post, colleagues, students, and community. He has spent his adult years studying and working to become the best school administrator he could be—and it hasn’t always been easy. “I never thought I was smart enough to actually graduate with an undergraduate degree,” he said. Still, with his mother’s insistence, he attended Henderson State University and, post graduation, earned a master’s from UT-Arlington and a doctorate from TAMU-T. With each pursuit came doubts: “I didn’t think I could do it, but I did,” Brandon said. “These are the lessons I learned [through my experiences in higher education]: hard work does pay off; people will help you if you let them; and, most importantly, don’t quit— keep moving! If I, a black boy from College Hill, can do it, anyone can.”
Best advice you’ve ever received:
“GET YOUR LESSON.” THIS WAS THEIR WAY OF SAYING, “TAKE CARE OF THE IMPORTANT BUSINESS FIRST BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE.” – BILL AND MARY GRADY, BRANDON’S GRANDPARENTS
This perspective makes Brandon an ideal leader in his district. He leads from a place of experience, passion, and hard-earned confidence. But his educational goals are far from completed: he plans on one day attending law school and continuing a career in either public or higher education. He would love one day to mentor administrators and teachers.
For now, though, Brandon’s focus is on the almost-700 elementary children at LE whom he considers his own. His current professional aim is to increase parental and community involvement in his school by forming relationships with local businesses and churches.
Name something about you that very few people know:
“I love onions and The Golden Girls.”