Community champions: Jonathan Bragwell
Exceling in education career
By Clif Knight
Photos by Rachel Howard and Contributed
Jonathan Bragwell exchanged his classroom teacher’s hat for an administrator’s hat Oct. 1, 2019, when he gave up his job as a fifth–grade teacher at Hartselle Intermediate School to assume the position of assistant principal at Crestline Elementary School.
“I like it here,” he said. “I feel very blessed to be where I am and give all the credit to the Lord. All the staff, parents and students have been very supportive.”
Bragwell was a fifth-grade social studies teacher at HIS for six years and two months before his promotion. He previously taught fourth– and fifth–graders in all subjects at F.E. Burleson Elementary School for 15 years and was a fifth–grade teacher at Leon Sheffield Elementary School for two years before joining Hartselle’s school system.
A 1992 graduate of Fultondale High School in Jefferson County, Bragwell said he didn’t have education as a career choice when he enrolled at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
“I was leaning toward business as a major,” he recalled, “but I changed to education my sophomore year after being encouraged by friends to become a teacher. One of my college professors suggested I consider elementary education since so few men were entering that career field at the time.”
Bragwell graduated from UAB with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1996 and earned the Alabama AA master’s degree in elementary education in 1999. He earned a master’s in education from UAB in 2001.
Looking back on the 22-plus years he was a classroom teacher, Bragwell said the highlight of his career was the relationships he developed with students and their parents. “One of the satisfying experiences I had was getting to teach the children of parents I taught before them,” he added.
Bragwell and his wife Sarah have been married 22 years. She is the reading coach at F.E. Burleson Elementary and a former librarian and classroom teacher. They have a son, Ty, and a daughter, Terra, a junior and a freshman respectively at Hartselle High School.
Christian faith is an important part of the Bragwell family’s lifestyle. They are active members of Westview church of Christ in Hartselle, where he serves as a deacon. They also volunteer at Rustic Youth Camp in Franklin County, where Jonathan and Sarah serve as counselors and Bible teachers.
“The success of a teacher can be measured by how well the studentss relate to their teacher,” Bragwell stated. “Mutual trust is important. A good teacher knows what will motivate his or her students and help them be successful.”
Bragwell said he doesn’t see his retirement happening anytime soon.
“My ultimate goal is to become an elementary school principal and serve in that position for several years,” he added.