MARCELLUS | After giving what she termed her two-minute resume speech, incoming Marcellus Central School District Superintendent Michelle Brantner earned a reception and a Mustang sweatshirt during the Jan. 11 school board meeting in which she was appointed to the permanent position.
Brantner explained her background, following her geographical path starting with being born and raised in Ilion. She attended SUNY Oswego, graduating with degrees in secondary education and Spanish.
“Of course, where does everyone go to teach Spanish?" she said. "I moved to the Potsdam area. As you can imagine, teaching Spanish on the Canadian border proved interesting. In between teaching, I lived for two summers in Guatemala.”
While in the North Country, she earned two master's degrees — one in instructional technology and media management from SUNY Potsdam and another in educational administration from St. Lawrence University.
She took her first administrative position for three years as the assistant principal at Newark High School. The Lansing Central School District then hired her as its principal. After seven years in Lansing, she became the superintendent of the Moravia Central School District.
“So, if you know anyone from Ilion, Norwood, Norfolk, Potsdam, Newark, Lansing, Moravia or Guatemala, we might have a connection,” Brantner said.
During her years in Lansing and Moravia, she met her husband, Bob, who had three children, twin girls Bethany and Afton, and a son, Drew.
The twins showed up in Marcellus that night to surprise their stepmother. She had been warning the Marcellus audience that she was a bad speller and could be nostalgic and sentimental when she caught sight of her stepdaughters in the auditorium. This caused her to demonstrate the second trait, becoming overwhelmed with joy. But, she quickly pulled herself together and continued.
“Taking on a leadership role is a bit like a marriage," Brantner said. "You, in essence, are making a commitment to each other to stick together through thick and thin and to support each other in good times and bad. While it can be challenging, when it works it can be amazing.”
“I'm ready to be accepted into your family and to accept you into mine,” she told the audience of teachers, administrators, students and parents. “My vow is that my heart will be all in from day one.”
Although she won’t take office until July 1, she said day one started last week when she accepted the position.
“I will care for each of you, listen to you, lift you up, challenge you, encourage you and find the way to make it possible for you to do your best work as a parent, a community member, board member, bus driver, cleaner, secretary, teacher, administrator and other jobs that I forgot," Brantner said. "I promise to share your joys and sorrows and commit to growing and learning together with each of you. Over the next several months, I look forward to having the opportunity to learn from you. Thank you for welcoming me to the Mustang family.”
After her introduction, the audience was invited up to the front of the auditorium for a reception with two specialty cakes, punch and coffee. Many teachers were present and spoke enthusiastically about the appointment.
Sixth-grade teacher Anita Pawlewicz said she was anticipating and looking forward to this appointment as she and many other teachers were included in the search process at different points. Fourth-grade teacher Joann Loudermilk agreed, adding that she was excited to have someone with new ideas.
Marcellus High School seniors Joe Boise and Ross Filtch were in the audience for credit in Terry Hoey’s class on government. They collectively felt the event was cool to observe and they enjoyed the cake.
Brantner was escorted to the event by interim Superintendent Judith Pastel, who said they had worked together while Pastel was in Skaneateles and Brantner in Moravia. Pastel was enthusiastic about the appointment.
“I am thrilled that Michelle Brantner is coming here," Pastel said. "I was able to work with her as a colleague dealing with Cayuga County BOCES. She is extremely knowledgeable about curriculum and instruction as well as being a good listener, a good communicator. She is very genuine, so you will really get to know her."
The two women will again work together over the next five months on Brantner’s transition to the Marcellus district.
Pastel took over for Craig Tice, who moved to the superintendent position in the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District. Pastel came out of retirement to be the interim superintendent in Skaneateles before taking on the same role in Marcellus.
“In July, I am going to try and act retired,” Pastel said.