Dedicated Coach and Facility Aide
May 17, 2023
For many, Facility Aide Brandon Gregory is the first and last face they see when they enter or exit the building—that face can be warm and supportive and it can be imposing and no nonsense. That duality captures Gregory’s many contributions to the school serving as both building security and a three season varsity coach: assistant football coach, indoor track and field coach, and spring track and field sprinting coach. In each position, Gregory has a vision to bring diversity and expose kids to experience and relationships they necessarily wouldn’t encounter.
Before coming to NVOT, Gregory was a correctional officer at the Lloyd McCorkle Training School for Boys and Girls. “It was tough and challenging in a sense that dealing with the incarcerated was difficult,” he said. In this facility, he worked in the drug and alcohol unit, where he and the other officers would aid and rehabilitate kids affected by addiction. “They would be placed in life courses, some sort of drug and alcohol classes, along with the everyday schooling that they had.”
In 1991, Gregory was then transferred to the state prison in Newark, New Jersey where he worked as a hospital officer. He explained that there was a psychic line, hospital line, dialysis machines, infirmary, and more. Gregory found all aspects of medical cases interesting as he knew all this equipment was being all being used towards the patients in order for them to get the help they needed.
Soon after, Gregory was transferred up to the special needs unit and became one of the first officers in New Jersey to specifically work with special needs inmates. Gregory determined how this unit would be run and figured out a game plan on how to effectively help the inmates that were in need of assistance.
After 26 years of service, Gregory made the difficult decision to retire:.“The main reason for leaving was because the job was starting to wear on me mentally, not physically, because physically I could still do the job,” Gregory explained. “But mentally I was tired of having to do what I did every day and being around the incarcerated is very taxing on the mind.”
In 2010, Gregory came to NVOT as a track and field coach. According to some of his athletes, he is a tough, but encouraging coach that cares about the well-being of the students and wants the best for them. “Gregory knows when to push his students to reach their full potential and also cares and wants the very best for us,” said sophomore Jamie Kim. Under his guidance, his athletes have gone on to break their personal records and excel in country and state competitions.
Gregory is also known for convincing athletes to try track–even if they had no intention of joining. According to freshman Anand Vaghasia, “I never even thought about doing track until one random day when Coach Gregory came up to me and told me I had to do it. And thank goodness he did but I think I found my calling and truly believe I am excelling at this sport.”
After 13 years of coaching, Gregory moved into the security position he has now. He wanted “to mentor the kids in the school and also to bring a different kind of community outlook so that kids can see beyond what they already see.” Gregory hopes that he can help OT students prepare for the world: “Some of the NVOT population isn’t going to stay here after graduating, which is why it’s important to have a well-rounded cultural understanding to deal with people from different races.”
With more and more students from different districts coming to NVOT, making the population all the more diverse, Gregory strives to make kids understand that everyone has different values and point of views, instead of what a single person sees on the outside. He believes the students will ultimately benefit from it:. “There is more to the world than what they have dealt with and there are different kinds of people out there.”