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District 518 ALC principal prepares for new quadruple roles

Doug Brands gets situated into his new office at the Area Learning Center Thursday afternoon, two days after the District 518 Board of Education unanimously approved him as the new ALC principal. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)1 / 2
Brands2 / 2

WORTHINGTON — The Independent School District 518 Area Learning Center’s new principal will have a familiar face.

The board of education unanimously approved the hire of Doug Brands as the new ALC and VIBE (online) principal and EDGE (after school program) and summer school coordinator. Brands will take on the quadruple roles after a 16-year career as a Worthington High School math teacher and athletic coach.

Brands will spend the next few weeks becoming more attuned to each position’s duties before the 2018-2019 school year commences in September. While he’ll have a lot on his plate, he’s thankful he isn’t starting the position while relocating family.

“I should have a pretty easy transition,” he said. “Having been with the district, I know who my resources are and where they are.”

Brands is enthusiastic to take on his new role, one he considers his next educational career milestone.

“It’s really nice to use (my) knowledge and degrees here in Worthington,” Brands said about utilizing the master’s degree and administration endorsement he earned more than five years ago to professionally develop himself. “It’s awesome to have the opportunity to do that here.”

A 15-year Worthington track and basketball coach, Brands said previous administration and staff compared the building’s staff and students to a family. He’s merging that concept with his coaching experience, and is excited to promote a team culture throughout the building.

That team will also soon get a new arena, so to speak, as Brands will help lead the transition to the new Area Learning Center on Crailsheim Drive, which is expected to be complete by April 2019.

“It’s rare a new administrator gets a new building,” Brands said, adding that the new space will likely allow more room for he and staff to perform their duties.

The thing the 1994 WHS graduate and Trojan Hall of Famer expects he’ll miss most with the new position is coaching.

“I don’t think my schedule will really allow me to do both,” he said, as the EDGE program occurs at a time when sports practices also occur.

Brands said he has enjoyed being a math teacher for the past 19 years (his first three spent in Milaca). He said one of his main priorities has been to make the atmosphere exciting, as the subject is often met with frustration for students. However, he’s ready for the new challenge, and was prepared for and familiar with the role last year.

“I actually applied for this same position last year, but didn’t end up getting it,” he said.

The board hired Barry Fischer, who had also been a current employee of the district at the time.

He was quick to send another application when Fischer recently announced his resignation, as Brands was eager to find a position that utilized his administrative skills without leaving Worthington. He sees himself in the position for several years, so sons Kalen (grade 11) and Charlie (grade 8) can finish their high school education with the friendships they’ve established.

Brands earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Sioux Falls in Sioux Falls, S.D., master’s degree from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall and administration endorsement from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Outside of his professional life, Brands enjoys being a husband to Jennifer (Towne) Brands and father. The Brands also have a kindergartener, Toby.

Being closer to grandparents Don and Helen Brands and Keith and Linda Towne was one of the incentives for the couple to move back to Worthington.

Brands said he will likely continue to coach his boys’ traveling teams at the YMCA. The family is also a member of Grace Community Church, enjoys camping and landscaping and home improvements on their acreage south of Worthington.