MONROE – Brad Breedlove didn’t set out to become an educator.
The Monroe High School principal was working at a mercantile exchange in Chicago when he began volunteering as a football coach at a local school. Breedlove’s coaching experience drove him to pursue a career in education and led him from teaching and coaching to administration – and, ultimately, becoming Union County Public Schools’ 2013-14 Principal of the Year.
“A lot of good people, obviously, have come before me and have left a legacy,” Breedlove said of previous Principal of the Year honorees. “For me, I want to be known as a principal that inspired others to achieve more than they thought they could.”
Breedlove attended Duke University on a football scholarship and earned his undergraduate degree in history. Following his stint as a volunteer coach, Breedlove was inspired to enter the education field and earned his master’s degree in education with a history concentration from DePaul University in Chicago.
Breedlove and his wife relocated to the Charlotte area, and he began teaching at Sun Valley High School in 1999. About six years later, Breedlove took a position as a grant coordinator – something he said propelled him into administration. He took an assistant principal position at Monroe High the following year and spent two years at the school before becoming head principal of Weddington High School, where he served for five years.
“I loved every moment of it,” Breedlove said about his time at Weddington High. But after spending five years at the school, Breedlove realized he didn’t want to get to the point of complacency. “I don’t like complacency and going through the motions.”
After speaking with UCPS Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis, Breedlove decided to take a position as head principal of Monroe High School, beginning in the 2012-13 school year.
“This is sort of where I cut my teeth as an administrator,” he said. “It’s a much different job than Weddington … I just felt I would be challenged at this school, and that I could help the students and community here.”
Breedlove said the two schools are similar in some ways and different in others. The students at both schools have “the same hopes and dreams and visions for themselves,” he said. Both schools also have “excellent teaching staff,” he added.
Main differences include the rich tradition of Monroe High and the demographics of each school. While Weddington is a relatively new school, Monroe High School was established in 1897, Breedlove said.
“There is much more history and tradition at Monroe High School. Weddington is still building their tradition. They’re not super new anymore, but still working on the development of the tradition that Monroe High School has developed.”
Monroe High also is considered a “high priority” school and sees students from a vastly different socioeconomic background, Breedlove said. He’s been using his time at Monroe to focus on improving three aspects he believes will help students be successful: attendance, discipline and academic achievement. The graduation rate for Monroe High School students rose more than 10 percent over Breedlove’s first year as head principal of the school – up from 73.7 percent to 84.4 percent. But Breedlove doesn’t want to stop until every student graduates.
“(The) 84.4 (percent) sounds wonderful unless you’re one of the 16 kids out of 100 that drop out,” he said. “… We’re building decorum for students (to achieve) employability and going off to college and what it takes to be successful in those arenas.”
He added, “The students do amazing things here that the general public doesn’t know about. We’re working on that here at Monroe, showing what caliber of students we have and the great things they’re doing.”