An advocate for students
Brad Horton seems almost impossibly calm, as if his heart beats only once per minute.
But Horton wasn't always this cool-headed. As a young man, he was angry, releasing his aggression on the Parkrose High School football field as a defensive back and running back. Now he has found peace: getting married, raising a family, and volunteering at church.
However, Horton never forgot how it felt to struggle as a teenager. So, he has devoted his life to helping kids going through tough times like he did, most recently in a brand-new position at North Marion Middle School: Student Services Specialist (SSS). (There's also a new Student Services Specialist at the Intermediate School, Kiley Mehlbrich Stay tuned for a second profile on her!)
"As the Student Services Specialist, I have the opportunity to get to know and serve Middle School students," Horton said. "I am able to assist them in their needs and celebrate their accomplishments."
In academic terms, the SSS provides instruction, guidance, and social skill development to students who are struggling, creating a safer and more supportive school environment. But how does Horton make these concepts come to life in the day-to-day reality of a school?
"He's building relationships with students who might be having trouble with discipline, grades, attendance," Principal Tami Badinger explained. "He checks in with them."
Horton works closely with Middle School Counselor Renee Hanson, who says that for students who are missing school, he uses rewards and incentives, along with attendance contracts to guide them, with support from parents.
"He calls home and includes families on attendance monitoring as well," Hanson explained.
Even though he has just started, Horton is already active in the school, serving as the coordinator of Where Everyone Belongs (WEB), a group of eighth-grader leaders who handle the Sixth-Grade Orientation and tours early in the fall. Horton has also spearheaded an initiative in which he informally mediates short meetings between students and teachers when they don't agree. He recalls a specific discussion that simply gave a student the chance to share his thoughts.
"The student said, 'I don't feel like I'm being heard,'" Horton said. "They were heard and they understood better why the teacher did what they did."
Horton's History and Background
This sounds like a tough conversation, but Horton knows how to talk with young people, having been a mentor leader for more than 40 years. He kicked off his career when he was 18, coaching a Babe Ruth Baseball League for teens. He entered the working world as a semi driver for an air freight company making local deliveries, a role he loved. But he always had a heart for supporting children, so he went back to school. He earned a Master of Educational Leadership and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Concordia University. He has been teaching in a wide range of classrooms for 20 years.
Horton has taught sixth-graders at Oregon Connections Academy and Oregon Charter Academy and Grades 5 to 8 at St. John Fisher School. He seems to have left behind a positive impression at each school. Co-workers including Oregon Charter Academy Sixth-Grade Team Lead Elizabeth Schaefer say that Horton's a friendly and supportive colleague.
"In general, he was always a good team collaborator," Schaefer said. "If we were planning a team assembly or a school event, he would say, 'How can I help?' And he took his share of the duties, whatever that was. He's always willing to help. I miss his sense of humor for sure. He was a very positive and funny person all around. I never got a negative vibe from him."
In addition to his experiences at those schools, Horton has:
• Run his own tutoring business, Tutoring by Mr. H,
• Led West Linn Lutheran Church as the Director of Youth Ministries, and
• Served as the Junior Varsity Head Coach for the Lake Oswego High School Boys Soccer Team.
However, although he's worked in many places, he says he's glad to be here at North Marion.
"I am very excited to be part of North Marion Middle School and the school district as a whole," Horton said. "I would call the School District a hidden gem. I appreciated the dedication of the parents, staff, and administration to give their students the greatest opportunity to be successful in school and in life."
Horton said another thing that he likes about North Marion is that there are many employees who've stayed here for more than 10 years, "which says a great deal about a school and school district."
Right now, Horton, like so many other staff members, is simply thrilled to be starting a regular school year after so much disruption from the pandemic. He wasn't sure what to expect at first, but it has gone well.
"The first few weeks have been filled with verification that I made a phenomenal choice," he said. "I look forward to coming to school every day."
When he's not working hard for North Marion Middle School, the longtime Lake Oswego resident is spending time with his wife, a certified public accountant, and visiting his two daughters in Los Angeles. His 34-year-old daughter, who has a 2-year-old son, is the Director of Soccer Programming & Operations LA Galaxy soccer team, and his 32-year-old daughter is a music producer.
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