"Adventist education is about helping our students find and follow Jesus, grow in that relationship and offer the best possible education we can provide. We have to stay cutting edge in every one of those aspects."
David Branum is South Lancaster Academy's newest principal. He comes with more than 30 years experience in Adventist education and 20 of those years as principal.
"I've worked in Adventist schools because I've got a genuine interest in our kids, in our church. We do a really good job teaching them what our religion is about, our policies and our beliefs, but I think we miss helping our kids develop that relationship with Jesus and helping them to grow that relationship," says Mr. Branun. "It's all about having that relationship with Christ first."
Mr. Branum was most recently the principal at Greater Boston Academy. He and his wife, Jane, moved to Massachusetts three years ago to care for her father in Orange. She is a native New Englander and works as a nurse at a care facility in Baldwinville. When this position opened up it was a good opportunity to shorten the commute.
"I think Mr. Lambert did a great job and I'm looking forward to picking up where he left off. Keep moving things forward," says Mr. Branum.
His desire to move forward pairs with his philosophy of seeking improvement. "I'm not a big fan of 'that's how we've always done it.' I don't ever want to hear that," says Mr. Branum. "We have a pretty decent program, how can we make it better."
Mr. Branum goes on to say, "As far as I'm concerned the education and the spiritual both weigh the same in our school system. We gotta have a quality educational program. We can't just rely on the fact that we'rean Adventist institution anymore. That doesn't cut it with the Millennials and the Gen Xers. Adventist education is about helping our students find and follow Jesus, grow in that relationship and offer the best possible education we can provide. We have to stay cutting edge in every one of these aspects."
It's no surprise then that Mr. Branum strongly supports professional development and a positive school climate. "I'm making sure I'm taking care of my teachers and my staff, making sure they have what they need to do the best job they can do. That means I'm going to have a happy staff. When I have a happy staff, I have happy students. It just permeates right down to the classroom."
The Branum's have two children, Tiffany, 30, lives in Washington D.C. and Sam, 23, lives in Lincoln, NE. The family lived in Lincoln for many years when Mr. Branum was principal at College View Academy. "They're great kids in spite of their parents," jokes Mr. Branum. "Love 'em to death."
Mr. Branum originally graduated with an accounting degree. He worked in that field for two tax seasons and decided that he needed more people interaction and switched to education. His first teaching job was at Pine Tree Academy. He taught for ten years then went on to a earn a master's degree in educational administration.
"I do a lot of listening my first year," says Mr. Branum. "I welcome parents and alumni to come in and chat with me about how they see the school and what they'd like to see."