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Mark Brown is being recognized for his work with students at Newberg High School

COURTESY PHOTO: MARK BROWN - Newberg High School vice principal Mark Brown recently inked a deal with Codebreaker to publish his book, 'Be Who You Is.'

It's been an eventful month for Newberg High School vice principal Mark Brown. In between organizing a handful of graduation events and managing the end of a virtual school year during a global pandemic, he's received two major recognitions for his efforts with NHS students.

The first was an award handed down by Josten's Renaissance, naming him the national "staffulty" member of the month. The award recognizes a teacher, administrator or other staff member who has made a significant impact on changing the culture of their school — a task that Brown has been laser focused on at NHS over the past few years.

"Josten's Renaissance is a group we've partnered with for the past three years at Newberg High School, and I've been able to connect through them with educators throughout North America," Brown said. "This group is focused on school climate and culture, trying to see what they can do to help educators improve the environment at their schools. I've been charged by Principal (Tami) Erion to focus on that, and Josten's Renaissance has been a key partner in that. I'm extremely grateful to be named by them."

While the award provides some validation for Brown of his work, it wasn't the only example of his influence at NHS stretching far beyond the Chehalem Valley. Brown recently signed a book deal with Codebreaker, a national company focused on disrupting the status quo in education and providing unique perspectives for educators.

Brown's book, "Be Who You Is," is slated to come out later this summer or in the fall and will focus on mental health awareness and advocacy. Brown said it will serve as a memoir of sorts for him, telling the story of his own challenges with mental health and providing a guide to educators about how to properly deal with students' mental health.

"I've been working on this book for the last year or so, and I didn't really think I would be ready to try and get it published for a while until Codebreaker reached out," Brown said. "The school closure over the last couple months gave me more time to work on it, and it helped me understand the need for what I think this book will try to do.

"A lot of times, when we talk about mental health, it becomes this big, bad, scary thing. When in reality, we all have mental health and whether we go through challenges or not we all have to take care of that. We have to be intentional on how we address mental health within our own lives and in the lives of our students."

The book will be geared toward educators, and Brown said he hopes it will provide a tool kit for them to support and address students' mental health needs, as he and others have at NHS. The title is inspired by his favorite quote, of unknown origin: "Be who you is, because if you is who you ain't, you ain't who you is."

Brown often wears a T-shirt with the phrase "Be Who You Is" on it, and now that slogan will be emblazoned across the cover of books sold and marketed by his partners at Codebreaker. Brown plans to post more updates about the book on his Twitter page, @HeyMarkBrown, and will continue pushing the message behind the story.

"You have to love yourself for who you is and I spent a lot of my life chasing what I ain't," Brown said. "I was trying to create this image that other people liked or approved of and I believe a lot of people struggle with that. We need to be our best selves, even if that means we're not perfect or trying to be perfect for other people."


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