Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Jamaican appointed principal of Africentric school in Toronto

Published:Sunday | March 5, 2017 | 3:00 AMNeil Armstrong
Luther Brown, principal of the Africentric Alternative School.

Toronto, ON:

Luther Brown has been appointed the principal of the Africentric Alternative School (AAS) in Toronto, which has been welcomed by many in the African Canadian community.

Brown, who was born in Jamaica and went to Canada in the late 1980s, has been with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) for more than 25 years.

He has been a principal for about 15 years, and just before taking on his new role on February 1, he was the principal of the O'Connor Public School in the east end of the city for six years.

Curtis Ennis, TDSB superintendent of the Africentric Alternative School, says that the selection committee felt that Brown was the person who brought the most to the table in terms of leading this school.

"He was a very strong candidate. All of his references were just outstanding. I have certainly, like you, come across and heard from many community members how ecstatic they are that he was the candidate chosen," said Ennis.

He noted that Brown has a strong sense of community, and lots of grass-roots organisations know him and know of his work.

"They know him as someone who is a strong listener and who is a strong supporter of our young people. They know that Luther, and I know, that he has led his school very admirably both at O'Connor Public School, where he was last principal, and his school has done very well in comparison to other schools in TDSB even though it was a school that had significant needs and challenges," said Ennis, who is also the superintendent of O'Connor.

Yolisa Dalamba, a parent who actively participated in the realisation of the AAS, said she was thrilled that major changes have finally come.

"It is our hope Mr Brown will work with us to restore academic excellence, healing, and cultural pride in our school that makes up for all the turbulence, especially our students, have endured since the school doors opened."

HIGH EXPECTATIONS

"We have very high expectations of Mr Brown to work in partnership with parents and other stakeholders to uphold and realise Africentricity in our philosophy, pedagogy, and political and cultural practice, infused with the Pan-African and anti-colonial legacies of resistance left by our ancestors. Some of those include anti-oppression, decolonisation, resisting white supremacist values, and breaking down systemic barriers."

With Brown having done such a good job at O'Connor, Ennis said, "It's devastating for the O'Connor community, but we'll work through that piece. But it's exciting for the Africentric community, and we had a great need there. The school had been without a principal for the first half of the school year, and so we're just ecstatic that he is the chosen candidate."

Explaining why it took so long to find a principal, he said, the TDSB was actively looking for candidates to be the principal and had not been successful in finding the right candidate until they decided to take a fresh approach.

Ennis said that the parents agreed that they should post a position both internally and externally, and through that process, there were people within the TDSB, like Brown, "who decided, hey, maybe it's time to step up".

However, according to Dalamba, "parents and community members attempted to exercise our right as stipulated by the TDSB's alternative school policies and ensure a hiring process that is inclusive, transparent, and equitable but were sadly disappointed by the TDSB as this was not honoured."

Brown is married to the Reverend Paulette Brown.