Loudoun County, Va. (August 27, 2014) – Teachers at Algonkian Elementary might hear a famous coach, such as Vince Lombardi, quoted by their new principal this year.
They also might hear Brian Blubaugh quote one of Loudoun County Public Schools’ great instructional coaches, Dennis Young.
Blubaugh served under Young, the legendary principal of Meadowland Elementary, when he began his teaching career in 1996.
One of Young’s favorite sayings, which Blubaugh said he will borrow this year was, “Set high standards with a touch of love”
Blubaugh said these words encapsulate what schools should be about.
“There’s that competitive side, the high standards. We have to have high standards, we have to push for it. Then there’s also, do it with a touch of love. Show that you’re human; you have to be human, you have to be yourself and not put too much pressure on kids.”
Blubaugh is all about kids, having taught second and fourth grades at Meadowland and Rolling Ridge elementary schools and serving four years as the assistant principal at Potowmack Elementary. In addition, he’s served as a basketball and track coach at Potomac Falls and Loudoun County high schools. Blubaugh said the eight years he served as an assistant basketball coach at Potomac Falls gave him an insight into the community he now serves as a principal.
“The community is just one big family.” (Blubaugh noted that Potomac Falls’ teams always had the word “family” written on the back of their track shirts.)
“Teamwork and family are the two biggest things…We’re all in it together and we have a common goal…
“The Algonkian community… always wanted to help me out. We were able to do things other schools weren’t able to because of the commitment from the parents.”
Commitment is something Blubaugh brings to his new role, but he knows that alone won’t be enough to make Algonkian the school he envisions.
“The coach is just a piece of the puzzle and the administrator is just a piece of the puzzle. We’re not the only piece; it takes everything else. When you have good players who buy into the program, they’ll do anything for you.”
Coaching is what first drew Blubaugh to teaching while he was growing up in Pennsylvania. “I respected coaches. Growing up – my parents got divorced while I was at a young age – so a lot of times those male coaches were role models for me. The coaches were teachers and I respected what they did.”
One coach Blubaugh especially respected was the legendary Morgan Wooten of DeMatha High School. As a youngster, Blubaugh attended Wooten’s basketball camp and still has a copy of Wooten’s workout plans.
“It gave me that work ethic you have to have.”
And that work ethic gives Blubaugh a clear idea of where he wants Algonkian to be. “I’m very competitive. I want Algonkian to be the best… It’s not a do or die situation, but I do want Algonkian to be among the top in elementary schools.”
Being the best doesn’t mean reducing students to statistics, he added. “Kids are not a data point. I want kids to enjoy elementary school. I want them to enjoy it while they’re here.”
The new principal of Algonkian also enjoys being in elementary school.
“I like elementary just because of the wonder in their eyes. To me… it was just always easier to change a kid’s behavior in elementary school and get them on the right path at a young age. It’s cool to be in school in elementary. It’s cool to do your homework in elementary. There’s no ‘Oh, I can’t do this.’…
“They still have that innocence and that wonder in their eyes where they’re still curious about things…
“We set the foundation for middle school and high school.”
Blubaugh and his wife, Dawn, have four children; three of whom attend Ball’s Bluff Elementary. (Dawn Blubaugh is a longtime math teacher at Stone Bridge High School and a former valedictorian at Park View High School. The couple met – where else – coaching; in this case track at Potomac Falls.)
Of life with his two daughters and two sons, Blubaugh said, “It’s crowded.”
It’s also very active.
Blubaugh is the head coach of one of his daughter’s softball teams and an assistant with two others. “When I leave here, I’m heading for a ball field.”
Which is very fitting for a coach who’s always on duty for his nuclear and extended family.