by Terry Rogers
Although she is new to her position as the Assistant Principal at Milford Central Academy, Judith Bruns is not new to Milford School District. Bruns has been teaching in Milford School District for 15 years and served as the FFA Advisor as well.
Bruns was born at Dover Air Force Base, but lived in many areas, including Illinois and New Mexico. She returned to Delaware in 1979. The youngest of five children, she has spent most of her life living on a small family farm just outside of Milford. She married Daniel Bruns and they had two children, Adam and Casidhe.
“It was after my husband passed away that I went back to school at the University of Delaware to finish my bachelor’s degree and then started teaching,” Bruns said. “I had no intention of teaching when I attended college I was an Animal Science major at the University of Delaware and wanted to work with animals in some way. My college adviser suggested teaching and told me that if I knew how to teach someone something, it would make me more hirable to management. After I agreed to add Agricultural Education as a second major, he informed me I would need to complete a semester of student teaching. I resisted, but he insisted, so I spent a fall semester student teaching at Caesar Rodney High School with Mr. Alan Rathbun, Mr. Steve Cook and Mr. Glen Layton. At the end of the semester, my adviser sat me down and asked, “So what did you think?” I looked at him and told him I had never had so much fun in my life. I had found what I wanted to do!”
Bruns began her career at Smyrna High School, covering for a teacher who was on loan to the Department of Education. She taught Physical Science to ninth grade students at Dover High School and Animal Science at Sussex Central High School for five years. She then moved to Milford High School where she taught Animal Science for 11 years as well as Middle School and Milford Central Academy agriculture classes for three years.
“I have taught just about every topic within the field of Agricultural Science that you can imagine,” Bruns said. “I taught Aquaculture, Floriculture, Plant Science, Environmental Science, Natural Resources, Animal Science for large and small animals, Veterinary Technology and Landscaping at the high school level. I also taught Food Science, Animal Science, Plant Science and Agricultural Mechanics at the middles school level. I decided to earn my master’s degree in School Leadership because I wanted to learn something new. I really didn’t intend to leave the classroom at the time, but I wanted to be more knowledgeable about school policy, law, finance and procedures. About halfway into my degree, I started to think I had something that I could bring to the table in the area of school administration.”
Bruns explained that she has been constantly challenged to do the best she could for students both in the classroom and in her FFA chapter.
“For an agriculture teacher, this means late nights, long days and busy weekends getting students ready for competitions, organizing fund raisers, participating in community events and still planning energetic, impactful lessons for children,” Bruns said. “Juggling family and work was a huge challenge for me. I was lucky that both my children were active in the Milford FFA chapter, so as they got older, they were with me for almost all of the FFA events I did during the year.”
Being recognized as one of the six Outstanding Agriculture Educators in the nation in 2011 was one of the highlights of Bruns’ career. Being recognized by her peers in the education business and, again, recognized by agricultural teachers in the state as a teacher who does a good job was “humbling.”
“When I was told about the national recognition, I was surprised, dumbfounded and humbled to be among those recognized at the National Agricultural Educators Convention that year,” Bruns said. “A second highlight came just a few years later when I was named the 2013 Milford School District Teacher of the Year. Again, I was recognized by my fellow teachers at Milford High School and again at the district level. A third highlight occurred when I had two FFA teams, Poultry & Egg Evaluation and Dairy Foods, compete at the National FFA Convention and finish in the top 10 in the nation. Those students will stand out in my mind for many years as they took knowledge I offered them and they really exceeded all expectations and demonstrated that our Delaware FFA members are just as good if not better, than FFA members from around the United States.”
As a new assistant principal, Bruns expects to learn much in her first year. She understands that coming directly from the classroom into a leadership role means that there is a lot she does not know about the inner workings of school administration. Her goal is to be an asset to the administrative team at Milford Central Academy as well as for the teachers, staff and students in the building. One goal she has for herself is to find ways to increase the community in the school and the school in the community.
“I feel very strongly that our school cannot succeed without our community support and involvement and that our community needs our school in order for it to continue to grow and be successful, Bruns said. “While I have learned many things over my life, I would not change single thing. Every challenge has helped make me who I and what I am. I loved every minute I was a teacher, because my students inspired me to be better so that I could work to help them be better. I look forward to this next challenge in my life as I adapt from being a classroom teacher to being what, I hope, is a good administrator that works hard to improve the teachers, staff and students in my building.”