A Solution-Oriented Approach
One of the chillest coaches and teachers you'll find on campus, Andy Brown knows what it takes to be a leader. Brown's first year at Mercersburg–the 2019-2020 school year–was a big step for the football program as it was the first year transitioning from 11-man to 8-man football. Donning the role of head coach, Brown was able to scope out talented young athletes around campus and build a championship team within three years.
"I really try to hold that when things go well, it's because of other people." Brown gives all the credit to the players as it pertains to the success of the team. What drives him as a coach is trying to put the kids in the best position possible to succeed. Some students on the team had never played football until they came to Mercersburg but are athletically gifted.
Even though this season didn't end the way he'd hoped–they lost in a closely contested semi-final playoff game–it still holds significance. "It's a special year for me," says Brown, "because the seniors are the kids who came out with me in 2019. There are a few who have been through the growing pains and every distraction of why they should go play another sport but stuck with it."
Brown, who teaches Robotics, Maker's Lab, and Application Design, is a driving force behind the school's current robotics program. The goal was to take the enthusiasm of incoming 9th graders and provide them with multiple opportunities to be involved with robotics, he says. Thus, there are three levels of robotics classes as well as a performance group activity (PGA) available to students. Brown even added a robotics proctor for the Math and Science Center to help students develop their skills.
One of the biggest changes for the robotics program was its location. Previously within the confines of a classroom, the setting didn't feel quite right for such an engaging activity. Brown saw potential in Irvine Hall's Sheridan Gallery, which has increased visibility and space for competitive courses to be constructed. The location has since been made into a unique area for robotics students to program and test their creations.
"I try to be solution-oriented," says Brown, and the same has held true since COVID-19 upended life for the Academy community. One of the things that drew Brown to Mercersburg was that he had the ability to intertwine family and professional life. Having his family at dinner with other faculty and students made the experience feel whole, but COVID changed all that. Typically bustling with smiling faces, campus became a barren wasteland as the pandemic forced people into seclusion.
Once restrictions started to ease, the innate desire to congregate together that Brown enjoyed still seemed to be missing. To ignite a little spark in the community, he began planning activities for employee children. "I knew it would be beneficial and healthy for my family to be able to interact with other people and kids their age."
Since then, these activities have continued to be a piece of Brown's unofficial job responsibilities and have included athletics, Maker's Lab projects, and even a bee farming display. "I just saw a need based on feedback I was hearing from other faculty and staff. I'm just trying to be part of the solution to a problem that was created by unforeseen circumstances."
- Living the Values