“He is very visible in his community and I doubt if there is a student, staff member, or community member that Brian doesn’t know and hasn’t helped in some way. He is a good listener and will always acknowledge the ideas and accomplishments of others.”

— Jim Mabbott, Executive Director
Oregon Association of Education Service Districts

Culturally Competent

Developed through a variety of experiences my cultural competencies are a result of many years of work and inquiry. Through life and work experiences that range from being an educator in four countries working in a variety of urban, rural, impoverished, affluent, mono-lingual and multi-lingual school contexts throughout my career. I learned skills necessary to interact effectively amongst many cultures. The practicing the skills of being a focused listener, developing patience to think before acting, and keeping an open mind, I have learned many fascinating things about the cultures we live amongst. In the end my accomplishments in cultural competence have helped me be a more effective communicator and planner, leading to work in a collaborative environment that achieves the sustainable outcomes communities seek.

Other critical experiences involved working in South America as a teacher at a private school and in China as a school administrator. I also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa.

Through many unique experiences I have been able to hone my work in professional environments alongside host country and other international professionals.

These were great learning environments that taught me to respect the variety of approaches to problem solving, including the cultural context and expectations of using best practices, at times brought in from other cultures.

However the real proof of cultural competency is when you can apply it “in your own backyard.” Showing on day-in day-out basis that you value all individuals for who they are, understanding what makes them who they are, and communicating effectively with them allows for each individual to feel respected and valued. This approach also allows me to understand myself. I have learned the need to be more aware of others’ pasts when venturing into a process that may change the way they carry out their lives.

Going forward with complex change before gaining that understanding is a delicate process; the context of the stakeholders has to be well understood so communication is clear and actions are transparent while being sensitive to the culture of the stakeholders.

In the end the impacts of my cultural competence has lead me to be a more effective communicator and planner by assuring I look closely at the shared vision the learning community holds for their school. My work in rural communities both integrated and single race has helped me understand the challenges of rural poverty, the challenges of migrant families and the importance of my advocacy for families of special needs students who may need an advocate the most. As an urban school leader where many languages impacted our communications I learned to be mindful that structures for school improvement should include a variety of cultural context but also support the voices that do not come to the table because of their cultural beliefs. As a school leader in affluent communities I learned that all students needed to be represented in school activities whether they arise from a developmental learning center class or a conversation with a talented and gifted student.

Our students see the world as much smaller than I did when I was their age. They need leadership that reflects a sensitivity to that change and I am grateful for the opportunities I have had that put me in a strong position to lead them in this area.