New Valley Forge principal seeks to grow his school
Published 5:10 pm Thursday, July 21, 2022
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By Angela Cutrer
Brandon Young has been named as the new principal of Valley Forge Elementary School. Last year, he served as assistant principal.
Young has ambitions, as all of us do for the relatively short time we have here on earth. What makes Young a bit special is how he works to help himself through helping others.
Take, for example, the July 30 Back to School Bash — that was Young’s idea after he had a dream about how to help local students. Now in its 14th year, the ministry expects nearly 4,000 people to show up for free supplies, games and food.
Young and his family moved to Hampton in 2008 when called to pastor Harmony Free Will Baptist Church. They came from Mitchell County, N.C., where Brandon and his wife Dara were raised.
“We went to school together, but never spoke,” Young said. “I was doing a revival and she was the piano player. We dated for 10 months before we got married, and then two years later, we had our son, Grayson.”
The couple has been married now for 18 years, so it’s looking as though things are going to work out just fine.
That’s the attitude Brandon had when moving to Tennessee. “It’s not a lot different from where we are from in North Carolina — we love it here and our hearts are here. We feel like we’ve found home.”
Home may be near the church they pastor and attend, but that’s not the only roots they’ve planted. Dara Young, 40, works for East Tennessee State University as an academic adviser for the College of Public Health. Grayson Young is now 16 and a junior at Hampton High School, where he plays football and basketball.
Planting roots comes natural for this family: Brandon is the oldest of five, while Dara is the youngest of six. Brandon jokes that they have one child because Dara subtracted the amount of siblings they each had and the number came out to be “1.” And the three of them work well together — Brandon said without the support of his wife and son, none of what he has achieved — and none of his further ambitions — could be possible. Dara is by his side as a part of his ministry, and Grayson is “quick to jump up and help other kids,” his father said.
Brandon Young is proud of his family, his church and his school. He said he wants to do all he can to expand the time students stay with schools in the county rather than move into city schools. “We really have a great system in the county,” he said. “We want to grow our population, as well as retain that population. A lot of students after fifth grade go up to a city school, but we hope they’ll stay with us.
“Our test scores are above the state and other counties’ scores. We have a phenomenal faculty offering a superb education. All of the county schools are wonderful, and I think it’s best to keep as close to the student’s home as possible. It makes things so much easier for the families.”
Young said he entered into administration in order to push forth good ideas offered by faculty and parents alike. He found his way through his 22 years of education, starting out back in Mitchell County for eight years, moving to school counseling and finally into administration as an assistant principal. He hopes to keep educating himself through earning a doctoral to become a superintendent’s position one day.
But for right now, he said he just wants to ensure that his students at Valley Forge Elementary have the best to offer, with the most involved faculty he can provide so that students have the most well-rounded support in any school around.
“For me to be a pastor and then into education and now as a principal, I couldn’t do any of it without the best support team,” he said. And that’s not just his family; Young sings the praises of the communities in Carter County. “It’s a big, huge county, and it has great people in it,” he said.
Partnerships and teamwork — whether a family, a church or a school — are the foundations for success, and that’s something he wants each student at his school to have as well.