YARMOUTH — The principal of Frank H. Harrison Middle School Principal has announced he will retire at the end of the school year.
Bruce Brann, who has been at HMS for 22 years, said he will retire on June 30, 2016. Brann said although he enjoys being the middle school principal, he made the decision so he could spend more time with his son and his wife, who recently retired.
“I love what I do and I’m going to love not doing it,” he said.
Brann has been an educator for 38 years, and started as a high school English teacher in Bath. He then became the Bath Junior High School assistant principal before coming to Yarmouth as the assistant principal of Yarmouth Junior/Senior High School, which has since closed.
When the school split into two separate schools, Brann left to be principal at Wiscassett High School for two years. He then came back to Yarmouth for the position he has held ever since.
He has worked in Yarmouth schools for 26 years.
Yarmouth Superintendent Andrew Dolloff said Brann has been a great leader for the school district.
“Bruce’s steady leadership at HMS has created a culture of dignity, respect, and student engagement that is not always present at the middle school level,”Dolloff said. “We have been fortunate to have his consistent, steady hand leading our school for the past two decades.”
Brann said he’s going to miss working at the middle school and observing the way students grow socially, emotionally and academically from age 10 to 14.
“When you look at them as fifth-graders it seems very quick that you’re looking at them as eighth-graders,” he said.
Brann said working with younger kids also keeps him youthful.
“What I’ve always liked about education is that the children never get older, so as an educator I believes it keeps you young at heart,” he said.
Brann said what makes Yarmouth stand out is the town’s dedication to its schools.
“There are three parts to the school system: students, parents and teachers,” he said. “Each one of those groups value education.”
Brann said being principal has taken him away from always working directly with students, but being an administrator has allowed him to have another kind of influence.
“As a principal you work with 40 to 50 teachers who impact 40 to 50 students (each),” he said. “You’re fortunate enough to be part of the impact.”
Dolloff said Brann is very good at hiring and working with great teachers, and he is known for his “promotion of engaging instructional methods.” Brann said it’s important to him that teachers always look for new ways to teach and interact with students.
“It’s not a challenge because we embrace it, but we’re continual learners,” he said. “Not just the students, but the staff. We’re always looking to be better than we are.”
The staff at HMS, according to Brann, care very much about professional development. He said a group of teachers have started a book club where they read various texts about education and teaching styles.
“It makes you very proud of a group of professionals that take it so seriously,” Brann said. “It’s the kind of school where this happens. It’s that kind of school.”
In the coming months, Dolloff will be making a presentation to the the School Committee about the time-line for hiring a new principal. He said the hiring process will begin in late winter or early spring.
Brann said his advice for the new principal would be to always put students first, even if it means everything doesn’t get accomplished in a day.
“As an administrator, as a principal, each day you might sit down and plan your day, but you quickly realize that plan may need to be reorganized,” he said. “If a student or parent comes to your door, that becomes the number one thing on your list.”
Brann said he also expects the new principal to continue pushing for professional development for teachers.
“Be prepared to work with and challenge the staff,” he said. “That’s who the staff is. They’ll be expecting it.”
On Tuesday afternoon as a lunch period let out, Brann stood in the middle school lobby saying hello to students as they passed by. Many returned his greeting, with one young boy stopping to ask the principal to reconsider his retirement.
Brann said it’s the students who have made his experience what it’s been.
“I could not think of any place I’d rather have been for these 26 years,” he said. “I have no regrets about this.”
Bruce Brann, principal at Frank H. Harrison Middle School in Yarmouth, greets students as they leave their lunch period on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Brann will retire at the the end of the school year.