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Brookwood's Debbie Dees
Georgia High School Principal of the Year
Photo by Magic Moment Photography
Brookwood Principal Debbie Dees at Brookwood High School.
By Sheila C. Adcock

Brookwood Principal Debbie Dees has been awarded 2011-2012 Georgia High School Principal of the Year. This former teacher and coach has been at Brookwood for 15 years in various capacities and has been principal there for the last four years. This award comes from the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP) and is a result of nominations by her peers—principals at other high schools. Following an application process, three finalists are interviewed before the final decision is made. GASSP is affiliated with the National Association of Secondary School Principals; and Dees will travel to Washington, DC, in September to represent Georgia at the competition for the NASSP Met Life National Principal of the Year title.
When asked about this honor, Dees said, “Nomination is an honor because it is recognition from your peers. It validates what we’re doing right at Brookwood and acknowledges the hard work of the whole Brookwood community—the staff, volunteers, teachers, students and parents.”
Photo by Magic Moment Photography
Brookwood Princpal Debbie Dees
Marsha Kelly, Administrative Assistant in the principal’s office, said, “Ms. Dees is a humble person, and with this honor of Georgia Principal of the Year, she would much rather the spotlight be on someone else. She is a great leader! She inspires me everyday to do my best, and she is always appreciative for the work we all do on this campus, day after day. That means a lot to us.”
Kelly notes Dees’ love for the students, “She even takes the time to send them hand written notes and cards for achieving something. She is out in the cafeteria every day with them. The students here amaze us and make us proud and she will tell them that, too. She gives a lot of positive reinforcement.”
In fact, Dees herself states, “If I could change something about this award, I would make it a school award rather than an individual award” because of the many aspects of accomplishment and success at Brookwood.
When asked about her goals for the future, Dees said, “We want to maintain our culture of good will.” When asked to explain what this means, she elaborates, “Brookwood is not the building. It is the people. The foundation set by (first principal) Emmett Lawson in 1981, created a culture of excellence and goodwill. We still want to “Put People First”. Our students, families, support staff, and educators are all one big family. Respect is paramount. We all are equal in regard to respect. The teachers are supported. They get what they need.” She adds, “Everyone bends over backward to be kind, considerate and courteous. Our students have good manners and appropriate behavior. We strive for this. We think students who are engaged and treated respectfully will think that learning is cool. We won’t have some of the problems that could occur. We have a safe, secure, and “ready to learn” environment.”
With pride, Dees praises Brookwood’s academics, sports and fine arts programs, booster clubs, volunteers, community supporters, students and parents. Specifically, her list includes meeting or exceeding the standards set for academics and classroom work resulting in great marks for SAT, ACT, Gateway, Advanced Placement and Georgia High School Graduation testing scores. She mentions Brookwood’s winning the 2011 AAAAA Georgia Athletic Director’s Cup and receiving the 2010 State Football Championship trophy in the Georgia Dome. Also, she says, “You’d be amazed at the talent of our kids in wonderful theatrical productions, jazz concerts and dance performances.”
With all of her focus on the team, you can see that Dees is a special and unique leader. Brenda Neisler, school media specialist, says, “Everyone loves Dees. She cares so much about the school. Her concern and passion spills over into everything she touches. Everyone around her senses her emphasis and her commitment to excellence and each one wants to do their very best, too.” Neisler goes on to say, “When she first became principal, she told us she wanted everyone to enjoy working at Brookwood. She believed that if we, the staff, were happy, we’d do a good job and the students would learn. She sets a standard of excellence and that’s just the way it is at Brookwood…it’s a culture of excellence.”
Kim Hamman is a teacher and Science Department chair, who was awarded 2010 Teacher of the Year. She tells of Dee’s mentoring skills saying, “I couldn’t have achieved what I have without Ms. Dees. She gave me duties above my regular responsibilities, working in data management, which I really enjoy. This led me to become a better teacher and educator. She is not only my boss, but is my mentor.”
Hamman describes Dees, “She helps people identify their strengths and can find inherent skills within others to further develop their talents and leadership. She has, not only the capacity to lead, but to develop leadership in others. She expands horizons, gives opportunities and encourages success. She believes that as each person is developed, the whole organization becomes better!”
Dees acknowledges that she “is proud to be part of Gwinnett County Public Schools and grateful for the support we receive from them every day.” As you can see, Dees is a great leader—one whose emphasis is not on herself, but on those around her. She and the team at Brookwood have created a special environment where input, collaboration, engagement and buy-in result in excellence and achievement for all.
For more information on Brookwood High School’s awards, programs, honors and culture, visit www.brookwoodhighschool.net .





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