Famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says, “Hope is the power that gives a person the confidence to step out and try.” The life of Brandon Fletcher, a candidate for the Kingsport Board of Education, is a prime example of how hope motivated him at a turning point in his life.
Brandon grew up in a lower-class home in the Lynn Garden section of Kingsport. With a father who worked as a pipe fitter and a lab technician mother, he saw from an early age many of the same struggles families are still experiencing today. “I saw challenges with parental discourse, the weariness of demanding schedules, and how the week can easily outrun the paycheck,” Brandon began. “I learned that having a support system that encourages a student and helps to plan a path to success is key to obtaining a successful career and feelings of self-worth.”
At the age of 14, Brandon’s parents divorced, and his life entered a time of turmoil with a void that led to a life that was not destined for success. “I made some mistakes,” Brandon explained, “but by the grace of God none of them brought life-lasting results.”
With his love of baseball and his talents on the field, Brandon began to dream of playing college ball as a way to escape the adversity that surrounded him. He played his ninth-grade year, had to go to work to help with finances after his parents’ divorce in 10th grade, but resumed his career in 11th grade. With dreams of hope and prosperity as his 12th grade year arrived, Brandon was crushed when he was cut from the team. “I was devastated,” he continued. “I saw baseball as my way out and had received a couple of letters from small colleges interested in me. When I was cut from the team, I saw all of that vanish, my hope was gone, and my attitude began to reflect my despair.”
Then he encountered U.S. History and his teacher, Thomas Gilbert. In typical “Fletcher fashion,” he smarted off in class one day and was immediately invited out into the hallway.
“Mr. Gilbert said, ‘I don’t care who you think you are, but you are not going to disrespect me in front of the other students,’ and then we had a very intense talk,” Brandon said with a smile. “At the end of that conversation, Mr. Gilbert put his arm around me, and we walked back into the classroom. He never told me that he cared for me, but he showed me that I was important. He spoke truth into my life that day and it was the major turning point in my life. I feel God changed my life there in the hall at Sullivan North and he used Thomas Gilbert to accomplish the mission.”
Even though it was too late for high school, Brandon now had a new-found hope which gave him the confidence he had been lacking. Although he obtained a good job at UPS after high school and enjoyed an 11-year career, he knew there was a drive inside him to satisfy the servant heart he had always had.
“I enjoy helping people and knew that I was destined to do something which would serve the people around me in a more beneficial way.” He began to think about becoming a nurse and decided to take a class each semester at night through Walters State to pursue his dream.
After he met the prerequisites for full-time enrollment, he was admitted and was required to attend an orientation on campus. “On the way home, I realized I was contemplating giving up a good-paying job as breadwinner for my family, so I immediately called Leslie, my wife, to express my concern about my next move.” When Brandon told his wife they needed to discuss his decision, her reply was, “Brandon, we’ve already made this decision. The Lord will provide for us.”
Brandon graduated as an RN from Walters State in 2007 with an associate’s degree. In 2008, he received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from King College. He went on to earn his masters degree in 2011, and his Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice in 2012 from Virginia Commonwealth University. With a concentration in Research and Leadership, the young man who had struggled in Lynn Garden with a plethora of challenges had overcome them and achieved success.
“My story is not exclusive to me,” Brandon said with a determined look, “which is why I want to represent the community on the Kingsport Board of Education. There are many students out there just like me who have no plan, no direction, and no one to encourage them. By supporting the professionals in our school system and providing them with a host of tools to use and professional development opportunities to enhance their skills, maybe those students can achieve their goals and dreams a little faster than I did. There’s no greater motivator than success.”
Having two children, 10-year-old Shelby and 5-year-old Nolan, Brandon has a vested interest in Kingsport City Schools.
“We have to give our students a way to be productive here in Kingsport so that they can contribute to the community, add to the tax base, and maintain the quality of life that we have here,” Brandon said. “It’s important to stress that everyone may not need to attend college; providing them with CTE experiences even as early as middle school will help to grow their interests and define their path toward success without wasting time and money on a career they don’t enjoy.”
Brandon shares his approach to life with his children every day and will carry this mantra to the Kingsport Board of Education. “You can be a funnel or a straw,” he began. “As a funnel you pour yourself, your experiences and your talents back into the community for the betterment of everyone. As a straw you’ll extract resources and take advantage of others to better your own life. It’s my hope as a BOE member to help breathe success and hope to the professional staff and thus reach the students who are planning their futures.”
The Kingsport Municipal Election is Tuesday, May 18. Election day polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Early voting continues through May 13 at the Civic Auditorium in Kingsport and Sullivan County Election Office in Blountville. For poll hours or details, visit scelect.org. Registered voters may early vote at either early voting site. Election Day voters are required to vote at their designated polling location.
Paid for by Candidate Brandon Fletcher