Luvelle Brown spoke softly for around 20 minutes as he pointed to his diverse audience of about 150 people.
Brown, superintendent of Ithaca City Schools in New York, was the keynote speaker at Saturday’s 39th annual Hobbs NAACP banquet at the Hobbs High School Commons.
Brown brought with him copies of his book, “Culture of Love: Cultivating a Positive and Transformational Organizational Culture,” which he signed for people both before and after the dinner.
His speech was based on his belief that the culture of love consists of several tenets, including selflessness, trusting, commitment, caring, patience and honesty.
During an interview after dinner, Brown said that love is not “just some random feeling. It manifests itself in positive behaviors.”
In his address, Brown recounted his experience as he was faced with deciding to stay in Virginia, where he grew up and where the culture was safe and familiar or to leave to go to New York.
“My mom told me that I had to go,” Brown said. “She told me that I was responsible for spreading what I knew to places and people outside the community I had always known.”
Brown has been superintendent of Ithaca schools since 2011 and was named New York Superintendent of the Year in 2017. In an interview with a reporter shortly after he received that honor, he talked about his understanding of a culture of love as it works in the district he leads.
“We talk about it often, and we talk about the specific principles around patience, dedication, kindness, caring for one another, the ability of forgiveness,” Brown said. “We really break down those principles. And we have those reflected in all of our work, whether it’s a policy, whether it’s our interactions with one another, whether it’s grading practices, curriculum development, we really run all that we do through this litmus test.
“And is it contributing to this culture of love that we’re building as a community? And that’s been helpful. This pushed us to be effective. It pushed us to think differently. It pushed us to be innovative as we work in this way,” he said.
Brown’s speech was followed by the honoring of several students who will graduate from Hobbs High School in May. As each student’s name was called, he or she came forward to accept a desk plaque. Students receiving recognition awards are Zaria Dawson, Shynese Mackey, Quintrel Vanhook, I’Jana Morgan, Caydon Meridyth, Teren L. Smith, Cye Morgan, Saqqary Baker, Jasmine Swain, A’Niya Heckard, Hailey Smith, Asia Munson, Soverign Anthony, Isaiah Vaughn, Roderick M Wormly, Ty Woods, Leyton E. Griffin, Atlya Mackey, Octavian Brewer, Andrea Evans, Y’Zane Smith, and Beyonce Basquez.
NAACP president Joseph Cotton presented awards for community service to Rodney Smith and Victor Hawkins, for education to Chanelle Scott and Mildred Roberts, and the benefactor/supporter awards went to Brett Clay on behalf of Hydrotech Services Brett Clay and Jeff Poe on behalf of Wendy’s. The Outstanding Achievement Award went to Mae Jackson, Tatum police chief.