DUNLAP, Tenn. -- When Susan Brown was a little girl, she played "school" with her younger brother. But she never saw herself as a teacher.
She pursued a pre-medicine track in college, but quickly realized her true calling was in education and psychology. Today, she's the interim principal of Griffith Elementary School until January, when the job officially will be hers.
"I have the fullest respect for her," said Sarai Pierce, the former principal who was promoted to a superintendency. "Griffith is in great hands. My little girl is there."
Brown was a school counselor for eight years, then became assistant principal at Griffith and served four years. When Pierce was promoted to the district office to serve as the pre-k through fifth-grade superintendent, several people were interviewed for the job.
Pierce said Brown is a perfect fit, and she would know since they were administrative partners for several years.
Brown, originally from Whitwell, said she proudly roots for the Sequatchie County Indians, and her son attends Sequatchie County High. She said she does her job with him in mind, and she wants children to be taught and cared for the way she hopes her son is treated.
"Griffith is the perfect balance between love for the children and academic excellence," Brown said. "When we hire people we always look for character, chemistry and competence. But competence is the only thing you can train, you can't the other two."
Pierce said Griffith Elementary is known as a place where kids like to go to school. And she gives credit to Brown for helping create that atmosphere.
"She makes great decisions," Pierce said. "Her gift is discernment. She's a great person."
In her morning announcements, Brown reminds students and faculty to live by the Golden Rule.
"I want people to know that it's not just about education, but that we really do love their kids," she said. "We're here to be role models."
Now that she is an educator, Brown thinks the job suits her well. She compared her role as a principal to that of a coach.
"You want to have the best players on your team, and you want to give them the best training," she said. "Then you want to do whatever it takes to make them perform at their highest level."
Corrina Sisk-Casson is based in Dunlap. Contact her at email@example.com.