In Tuskegee. At Booker T. Washington

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by DanWolgemuth on May 4, 2018

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13, NLT)

A hero.

Someone who trades their own life for the life of others.

Warriors. Soldiers. First Responders. Courageous bystanders.

A high school Principal.

Brelinda Sullen.

Tuskegee, Alabama. Booker T Washington High School (BTW).

Against the odds. In the face of opposition. At the risk of personal peril and professional failure…

Brelinda. Ms. Sullen.

I watched as 550 high school students filed into a gymnasium. I listened as Ms. Sullen addressed her students, “her babies.” It was 8am… it doesn’t matter what day, because every school day at BTW starts this way.

Every day.

The Pledge. The Star-Spangled Banner. The school song. An admonition to flee foolishness and pursue excellence. An expectation of character.

Brelinda didn’t modify a culture, she reinvented it. She didn’t raise expectation, she redefined it.

The energy was palpable.

98% of the students on free and reduced lunch and an empty student parking lot are no measure for what’s possible in Tuskegee. Because Ms. Sullen refuses to grade on the curve, to lower the standard.

Love is… what love does.

These words are tattooed on the heart of this unsung school administrator. The unfettered love of Christ unleashes a courage and commitment that transforms students into family. “My babies.”

At 8:30am on Tuesday morning, I stood in front of the students at BTW, microphone in hand. Different by nearly every measure from the young people in front of me. But love. But Brelinda. But God… And a moment. Something beyond my wildest expectation. God moved. The Spirit tugged. Jesus broke through. And I’m talking about in me. No sugar coating necessary. No cutting corners.

Sugar coating and cut corners don’t work at BTW… or anywhere else for that matter. Brelinda Sullen had paved the way. Love had paved the way.

Brelinda Sullen is a hero. She has voluntarily laid down her life for the young people of Tuskegee. She has used her own resources to cover the expenses of her athletic teams. She’s written checks to pay the utility bills for the families of her students. She’s stayed when others have fled. She has loved when hate is the language of the day.


My hero.

No greater love.

In Tuskegee. At Booker T Washington. Purple and Gold. Go Golden Eagles!

Go Brelinda. Go Jesus.

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