Felicia Anderson thought she wanted to be a speech pathologist, but once she started teaching, she never left the field of education. That was 30 years ago, and recently, she was named the principal of Browning High School, set to open next fall on the border of Signal Hill.
Browning High will be the third small high school funded by Measure K, following McBride and Sato high schools in Long Beach. Measure K was passed by voters in 2008 to renovate and build schools, while Measure E (approved last November) will fund additional improvements, including classroom air conditioning and other health and safety repairs.
As a native Angelino, Anderson brings three decades of experience as a teacher and administrator from elementary to adult education. She has extensive background in linked learning, which combines strong academics, demanding technical education and real-world experience in academic pathways centered on industry themes.
Browning will be a small high school designed to create direct pathways to careers and higher education in culinary arts, hospitality and recreation. Students will be selected from applicants who have strong interest in these fields from across the district.
"The pathways at Browning will lead to some of the fastest-growing careers according to a school district market analysis report," said Anderson, who has worked in Long Beach for 20 years.
"We will develop world class pathways to prepare our students for executive level jobs in international hotels and resorts. They will be cutting edge developers of travel tourism and top chefs at restaurants," she said.
Equipped with the latest computer and internet technology, the school will offer state-of-the-art commercial kitchen facilities, designed to industry standards.
Partnerships are being discussed with national restaurant chains, the hospitality department at Cal State Long Beach and the culinary arts department at Long Beach City College, where Browning students will have dual enrollment opportunities.
"In addition to offering classes that meet the University of California and California State University admission requirements, our students will have a range of advanced placement courses, college courses and internship opportunities," Anderson said.
Discussions are ongoing with local businesses such as Rossmoor Bakery, Lucille’s BBQ Restaurant, Hof's Hut, Eco-Tours of Catalina Island and the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Anderson previously served as assistant principal at Jordan High and principal at Long Beach School for Adults, where she gained experience guiding students who juggle jobs, family obligations and coursework.
The mother of two LBUSD graduates, Anderson earned her doctorate in education from Cal State Long Beach in 2014. She received her bachelor's degree in speech pathology at Howard University and her master's degree in applied behavioral counseling at Johns Hopkins University.
During her master's work, Anderson taught for Baltimore City Public Schools in a charter school organization. For nearly a decade, she lived and worked in Maryland until an East Coast blizzard prompted her to return to sunny Southern California.
She taught at Barton Elementary School in Long Beach for ten years before becoming a program facilitator for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).
GEAR UP supported under-represented students with early awareness of college opportunities. Anderson was highly motivated by this work and remains passionate about empowering students to prepare for success in college and careers.
When she welcomes the inaugural freshman class to Browning next August, Anderson will be cognizant of her role as a female African American high school principal.
"I want to be a role model for all students, and especially those who come from traditionally marginalized communities, so that they can realize their full potential and not have their dreams deferred," she said.