Rachel Brewer could barely be seen Tuesday night amid the sea of parents, students and educators who credit her husband with shepherding thousands of teens through their most difficult years.
“Tell Dr. Brewer we’re here for him,” one parent whispered in her ear.
Since her husband, Dominion High School Principal John Brewer, was placed on leave in early December, Rachel Brewer has sat quietly in the audience of Loudoun County School Board meetings. She watched and listened as hundreds from the community lined up to share story after story of Principal Brewer’s work with students and staff at Dominion since the school opened in 2003.
And Tuesday, Rachel Brewer decided to join them at the mic.
She said when she and her husband took jobs with Loudoun County Public Schools 22 years ago, it was a decision that was about much more than teaching. “It was two incredibly broken people with the desire to show other broken people that they mattered. That their home life, mistakes, poor choices didn’t have to define them,” she said.
Brewer, who teaches at Mill Run Elementary in Ashburn, said that she and her family have been so encouraged by the outpouring of love and support over the past two months. As educators, it’s reminded her and Principal Brewer that the sometimes difficult work they do each day can leave lifelong impacts.
“It’s been an amazing reminder that it’s so worth it to invest in students’ lives every day,” she said in an interview after the meeting.
Superintendent Eric Williams has recommended Principal Brewer be fired, and the principal has appealed the decision. Rachel Brewer confirmed that her husband will, on Feb. 22 and 23, go before an independent hearing officer who will review the information and make his or her own recommendation to the School Board, which makes a final decision.
Rachel Brewer said, “No matter the outcome, hearing these stories about students’ lives changed, we can say it has all been worth it.”
School system administrators have declined to specify why Brewer is on leave because of liability concerns about discussing personnel matters publicly. But the move came as Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation of Brian Damron, who served as Dominion’s band director from July 2012 to January 2015 under the leadership of Brewer.
School records show that Brewer wrote a letter of recommendation for Damron that the band director submitted to Duval County Public Schools in Florida, as part of his application. Damron was later accused of making sexual advances toward a 15-year-old student there. No charges were filed, but the band director has since resigned.
LCPS Music Supervisor Michael Pierson also wrote a letter of recommendation on Damron’s behalf, according to records from Duval County Public Schools, but has not been placed on leave.
A fundraising page at gofundme.com/support-dr-brewer has raised more than $30,000 for Brewer’s legal defense.