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Ted Duncan Leads Changes At Brevard Academy


Last updated 9/9/2019 at 2:56pm

As John Maxwell once said, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”

That is exactly what has been taking place on the Brevard Academy campus over the last three years. When Ted Duncan stepped into his role as school director, the winds had already begun to shift for the school. At the same time Duncan was transitioning to take the helm, the public charter school made a strategic move, leaving the Brevard Music Center campus and purchasing a large tract of land off Hendersonville Highway in Pisgah Forest.

Duncan is the embodiment of leadership. His cumulative experiences over the years have contributed to his calm demeanor and well versed management style. He has served as a classroom teacher, a professional development presenter, a coach, an administrator and a board member. Prior to entering into the school systems, Duncan worked as a playground leader with Asheville City Parks and Recreation while wrapping up his stint at Warren Wilson College, earning a degree in English literature.

Duncan has spent the last two decades improving and defining his leadership style.

“There are so many components at play on any given day, that having the ability to quickly adapt is vital,” he said.

While his philosophy on leadership is tightly rooted, the practices used to carry it out ebbs regularly.

“Fostering effective relationships, not only with staff, but also with the families and students is critical,” Duncan said. On any given morning, Duncan easily can be spotted at the head of the car line, donning his safety yellow vest, ushering his Bulldog scholars to the door. In the afternoons, his voice can be heard echoing the hallways over the radio, as he calls student by student, the names of each car rider to dismissal. Throughout the day, his daily routine allots him time to pop into every classroom.

“It’s important to me to try to see every child, every day. There’s an age old stigma that sticks to the title principal and I want to change that. Inside these walls we are a family and it’s important that everyone who walks through those doors feels supported. I want them to know that they are important,” he said.

As he walks down the hall, students are in the midst of class change. The recognition and respect is noticeable as eye contact, smiles and howdy-do’s are exchanged, even from the smallest Bulldogs.

Duncan’s experience inside of the classroom, starting in Long Beach, Calif., followed by Hendersonville Middle School and Francine Delany New School for Children, has aided his credibility to bring about initiatives that instructors willfully get behind. He describes his instructional leadership style as non-inclusive but all encompassing in every aspect of student engagement, professional development and a rigorous curriculum.

“My experience in the classroom has to play into every directional measure I bring to the classroom teachers. They are the front line. The art and science of teaching should be left up to the them, but in order for my leadership ideas to be seen as credible, I must show I empathize with the circumstances of those directly affected,” he said.

Duncan is a major proponent of is self-growth.

He said, “I would love the academy to be known as a leadership hub. We are always seeking to encourage every staff member to be their best self, whether it means they move on to their next chapter or they continue at Brevard Academy. I think that attitude has attracted an amazing array of instructors to the academy, from all backgrounds, and they all are active in their pursuit of growth.”

Duncan has proven his dedication to professional maturation in his own plight of self-discovery as his directional bearings have earned him a Masters in School Administration at Western Carolina University. He later went on to be awarded the Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership by the faculty of WCU. This award is given to the graduate student in the Master’s of School Administration and the Doctorate in Educational Leadership programs in alternating years who demonstrates the most outstanding promise and potential as an educational leader.

“It was truly an honor and such a humbling experience to be recognized alongside so many other influential peers,” he said.

Duncan inherited a school in the midst of transformation. After serving as an assistant principal at Asheville High School, he entered Brevard Academy as the school director and immediately jumped into action helping to facilitate the transition of the entire school from one location to another. Essentially, it was a renaissance of sorts. While the curriculum held steady and the mission of Brevard Academy remained unscathed, the faculty, families and students entered a seemingly foreign environment in 2016. “The first year was very intense emotionally and physically. The physical environment was well underway,” he said. “Floors were down, the structures were solid, we officially had a building, but the biggest task we faced was turning this shiny new home into a welcoming, learning environment for our students.”

It was all hands on deck at that point. In a matter of months, classrooms evolved into the vibrant, learning centers they are today.

Duncan, thus far, is the longest serving director of the academy. His perseverance in striving to follow the Brevard Academy mission, set forth by its founders, has helped pave the way for the exponential growth the school has seen to date. With record enrollment and heightened interest, Duncan has proven that creating sustainable change is achievable. While he didn’t walk into Brevard Academy and immediately discard what former leaders had accomplished, he did bring his unique abilities to build upon what had been left. His commitment to serve the Brevard Academy community has no doubt ensured his impact on this school will last for years to come.

(Brewton is the communications coordinator at Brevard Academy.)


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