Brad Brunner

Brad Brunner has been chosen as the new principal of New Buffalo Middle School.

NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education approved the hiring of a new Middle School principal who has both area and international experience during a July 1 special Zoom meeting.

Brad Brunner spoke during the Zoom meeting from South Korea (where he has served as Director of Strategic Programs at the Yongsan International School of Seoul for the past year). Prior to that post he was Principal of Lakeshore High School in Stevensville.

Before voting 6-0 in favor of hiring Brunner to succeed Lindsey Diebolt (pending a background investigation), Board President Chuck Heit thanked members of the district’s Personnel Committee along with volunteers who helped make the choice.

“I think our process in New Buffalo is pretty good. It involves not only the Personnel Committee and the board, but teachers, parents, students. Just thank you to all those involved,” he said.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said there were 16 applicants for the position, with six interviewed before the field was narrowed down to three finalists.

He said Brunner got “glowing recommendations.”

“Everybody we talked to had nothing but great things to say about him,” he added, adding “The Middle School is really in great hands.”

“We can’t be more excited to be joining the school community down in New Buffalo.” Brunner said, adding that both he and his wife will be returning to their families in Michigan (noting that his parents and in-laws were all on the Zoom call during the meeting).

He said they would be flying back to the United States about two weeks after the July 1 meeting and then start looking to move into the New Buffalo area.

“It was such an easy choice when the New Buffalo Middle School position popped up online … Just absolutely thrilled for the opportunity,” Brunner said.

He was raised in Spring Lake, Michigan, and attended the Spring Lake Public Schools K-12. After high school, Brunner enrolled at Michigan State University (MSU) and earned a Bachelor’s degree in teacher education. Brad was a social studies and Spanish teacher for 10 years in the Lansing area. During that time, Brad earned a Masters’ degree in K-12 School Leadership in a program through MSU that took place in Plymouth, England. Brad also earned an Educational Specialist degree in school leadership from the University of Michigan-Flint.

While enrolled in the MSU program in England, Brunner met his wife Karen (also a teacher) from Novi, Michigan. The Brunners have three young sons.

Also on July 1, Leslie reported that the district’s Food Service staff is taking a well-deserved break after distributing many thousands of drive-up meals since in-person school ended.

A message from the Food Service Department posted on Facebook reads as follows: It has been an honor and privilege to serve the community of New Buffalo during the COVID-19 school closure. Our dedicated team served a total of 35,680 free meals since mid-March with 17,500 pounds of USDA Farmers to Families produce was distributed to the community. Generous donations were received to help New Buffalo students and the community. We truly appreciate the support from New Buffalo as many cards, letters, lunches, and kind words were shared with our food service team. We look forward to serving our students again in the Fall.

Leslie said Water’s Edge Church is continuing the feeding this summer through its Bridge the Gap program, which offers meal pick-ups five days a week through Aug. 21 at numerous pick-up points.

According to an attachment linked to the Water’s Edge Facebook page, the Bridge the Gap summer food ministry will offer breakfast and lunch to children ages 0-18 from July 1 to Aug. 21 (Monday through Friday) from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Waters Edge Church; 11:30 a.m. to noon at New Buffalo High School and New Buffalo Elementary School, and from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. at Oakview Apartments and Judy’s Motel. 

In other July 1 business, the Board of Education:

• Was told by Leslie that the recent release of the state Return to School roadmap with this area in Phase 4 of re-opening would have students and staff back in person on Sept. 8, with a series of meetings with county and local officials and educators set for the following week to begin making plans.

He said district officials are still hoping for July 24 graduation ceremony outside, but said due to state rules they may have to divide the multiplex area so people in bleachers and graduates on the field are seen as two separate events.

“We’re kind of in the planning stages with that. We may have to get the blessing from some various entities to make sure that happens,” he said.

• Were informed by Leslie that Shelly Wheeler has the Yearbook nearly done, “and it’s beautiful.”

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