If you attended the 2016 Batten School Graduation Ceremony at James Monroe’s Ash Lawn – Highland, you will recall that Grady Brown calmly approached the lectern to deliver the postgrad class speech. Just a few minutes later, Dean Stam made the same journey but with one main difference. Grady had given his speech (almost flawlessly) without notes. This would not be the case for Dean Stam, who noticed and highlighted to everyone that he had written remarks. To anyone who had a class with Grady, this probably did not surprise you. While Grady would rarely raise his hand if not called on, he always delivered a confident and clear presentations. Grady has since returned to his hometown in Wisconsin where he is working as a Quantitative Analyst for the Madison Metropolitan School District.
In this post-Batten employment, Grady responsibilities “run the gambit.” His office is in charge of conducting research and analysis and manage student data for the school district. Although a newcomer, he produces everything from common, reoccurring reports to creative, data-heavy studies. For example, he helped conduct quasi-experimental studies to examine questions such as how summer school students are doing compared to similar students who did not go to summer school. Grady mentioned that Batten prepared him well even for these more advanced tasks.
Although many people who previously filed Grady’s position had PhDs, Grady was a compelling candidate for this job and has been successful because of the strong foundation that he gained while at the Batten School. Through stats and other classes, he strengthened his ability to analyze data, understand patterns, and translate them into a widely usable format. Grady noted, “My work mirrors what we learned at Batten because I take complex information, and synthesize it into various forms that stakeholders can understand.” When asked whether his time the Batten curriculum taught him to “Lead from Anywhere,” he described how he has grown to be more assertive and learned to inform policy makers about how to make decisions. For example, telling a stakeholder, “Here is the data and the trends, and some suggested recommendations for how to take next steps.”
For students who are just beginning their Batten experience, Grady suggests building a policy foundation by taking a diverse range of courses. If you are interested in data analysis, Grady suggested to not only take quantitative classes but also reinforce that knowledge with qualitative skills. Grady said there seems to be an increased focus on surveys, interviews, and other non-quantitative analysis in many school systems as they compensate for the intense focus on testing and data over at least the past decade. Finally, Grady suggested taking advantage of the APP to develop skills in your interest area. He prepared to join the Madison Metropolitan School District after working with the Albemarle County School System on an analysis of how to alleviate a shortage of high-quality high school math teachers.
What is the one thing the Grady wanted to share with fellow alumni? “Be continually focused on the growth of the University. Stay invested in the Frank Batten School: provide internships, give the Batten School feedback on how to evolve the program over-time, and build the alumni family. Doing so will allow us to shape our country and the future of the world. Also, Go Packers!”