By Barbara Kessler, TJJD Communications
Jennifer Brown has always embraced challenges, both in her earlier career as a teacher and principal, and since coming to TJJD in 2020 where she worked in case management and now serves as Asst. Superintendent at Gainesville State School.
The challenges might come in the form of behaviorally challenged youth or a leadership conundrum. Either way, she applies the skills she’s honed – listening, mentoring, building rapport – to help others navigate toward solutions.
“My calling is to provide structure and set them (the youth) up to be successful. And in leadership, I do the same thing, setting up employees for success and providing support and guidance,” she said.
She is “an extremely driven individual” and a strong role model for everyone on campus, says Supt. Darryl Anderson, who worked with Brown initially at the Ron Jackson campus and then urged her to join him at Gainesville.
"Her work ethic is off the chart. I enjoy working with her for numerous reasons: We both have taken the attitude to learn from our staff while leading them at the same time and she sets the example by her actions. It is an honor to work with her.”
Says Brown, “We have a super strong administrative team, a good dynamic and complementary leadership styles. I enjoy coming to work every day and I learn something every day. We should never stop learning and maybe that’s the lifelong teacher in me. I encourage our youth to learn something new each day, even if it’s something simple.”
In her personal life, Brown keeps grounded by pursuing hobbies, such as fishing and archery hunting. She enjoys the challenges of these sports and during a recent trip near Cabo San Lucas succeeded in one test she set for herself: “trying to catch as many fish as the men on our boat.”
A native Texan from the small town of Lefors in the Panhandle, she considers her educator parents to be her real-life heroes. “I am privileged that I was raised in a two-parent home. My parents have been married for 54 years.”
Brown’s vigor and adaptability are obvious in her successful mid-career transition to juvenile corrections work after more than 20 years in secondary education as a principal, teacher, coach, and counselor at Breckenridge ISD and in the town of Pampa in the Panhandle.
You might say this bow-hunting educator turned juvenile corrections administrator has grit, perhaps a quality unsurprising in a daughter of the High Plains. But there’s more to that story.
Brown says the inner strength that allows her to support others coping with crises springs from her own battle surviving breast cancer 20 years ago. She’s currently helping her mom deal with the same diagnosis. And at work, she considers one of her superpowers as a supervisor to be intuiting when people are struggling and need someone to reach out.
“I’m able to ask them, ‘Are you OK?’”