Brad Currie, the assistant principal at Black River Middle School in Chester, NJ, and NASSP’s 2017 Assistant Principal of the Year, is a transformative educational leader. In this month’s questionnaire, we ask him about his mentor, the importance of sports, and his favorite movie star.

How did you transform the culture at Black River Middle School?

I helped transform the culture of Black River Middle School by supporting staff and students’ efforts in the digital world. Working with our technology coaches and staying on top of best practices over time helped all of us leverage the power of digital tools in an impactful way. Technology, coupled with pedagogically sound teaching, can enhance learning environments tremendously.

Who’s your mentor, and how has he or she helped you become a better assistant principal?

Bob Mullen, our recently retired principal, helped me grow so much over the past five years as a school leader. He taught me a lot about humility, confidence, and a commitment to excellence. Hands down, Bob was the greatest educator I’ve ever worked with or for.

Why are sports important to the development of secondary school children?

Participating on a sports team provides students with a certain type of skill set that will help them thrive later on in life. Working together with others in good times and in bad makes everyone stronger and committed to reaching attainable goals. I am better as an educator because of the experiences I went through playing football, basketball, and baseball in high school. Making a mistake, wiping the sweat off your forehead, and going after it again is an experience that can help any student later in life.

What’s the secret to creating a high-performing school?

The secret to creating a high-performing school is to hire people who are truly committed to doing what’s best for kids and then getting out of their way so they can work their magic.

What’s the biggest challenge facing principals today?

The biggest challenge facing principals today is leading during this accountability age. Principals would be much better served if they could truly focus on instructional practices that help address student gaps without worrying about professional, school, and district ratings 24/7/365.

What is your favorite book, and why?

One of my favorite books is Visible Learning by John Hattie. It really brings to light what truly impacts student learning. Another book I enjoy reading is Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger.

Who is your favorite movie star, and why?

My favorite movie star is Denzel Washington. Simply put, he is calm, cool, collected.

What’s your hobby?

I love to play golf and coach my kids in various sports.

What’s your motto?

Keep fighting the good fight! And dare to succeed!