At the same time a new superintendent will be settling into the job at Russellville Independent Schools, so will a new principal at Russellville Jr./Sr. High School.
Ben Bruni moved from Logan County Schools to take the job at the combined middle/high school. He most recently served for two years as assistant principal at Adairville School.
Bruni, whose hiring was announced this week, said he’s excited to officially begin July 1, the same day Bart Flener will become superintendent for the school system.
Despite Bruni having a background in athletics – he was a football coach at Warren East and Todd County Central high schools, where he also taught – Bruni said he’s going to leave the coaching to others.
“The football team has been pretty successful, and I believe in letting people do what they do well,” he said. “I see my role as being supportive, but I see that with everything. I will support the spring musical as well as I will football. ...
“I said in my interview that Russellville is a school that has rich traditions and is deeply rooted in community pride. ... That is something that is earned over a long period of time and is one of those things unique to the school.”
Bruni, who graduated from Bowling Green High School and Western Kentucky University, also served in the Bowling Green Independent School District, where he was director of the Alternative School’s placement program for two years. He split nine years between Warren East and Todd County Central.
While Bruni has all of the certifications needed for the principal spot, he plans to seek other professional development training to help improve his skills.
“I’m always looking at what I can do better,” he said.
As for the school itself, Bruni said he plans to do a lot of listening when he begins. He also will look to complete the hiring of a few teachers. Current principal Kim McDaniel is working on that before she moves to the central office as director of pupil personnel.
“I think it will present some unique opportunities for really learning and listening,” Bruni said of his new job. “I will spend a lot of time just listening to what people have to say. Getting their input and valuing it is going to be important.
“It’s a wonderful fresh opportunity for a lot of people to give a unique and clear perspective of where we are.”
As for other most important first steps, Bruni said they will involve supporting people – “faculty, staff, students and community.”
Bruni said he doesn’t see himself pushing for any major physical changes to the building that has 540 students in grades six through 12.
“I just walked around the building and am pleased with the facility,” he said. “But I’m a big believer in that quality, culture of the school and other things are driven by the people, so right now my eyes are on the people. That’s where I start and where I end.”
Smith was pleased to make Wednesday’s announcement.
“Mr. Bruni has nearly 14 years of public school experience as an English teacher, head coach, director of a district-level program and assistant principal, most recently at Adairville Elementary in Logan County. Ben has worked in a diverse range of schools including a rural high school, a suburban high school, an urban Alternative-Placement middle and high school, and a rural P-8 school,” Smith said in a press release. “At each of these stops he has gained valuable experience regarding how to communicate, mediate, implement, and sustain professional initiatives within the school setting.
“Ben believes strongly in the balance between cultural and academic development, and he brings an optimistic and practical approach to educating students as well as improving the instructional and assessment practices of the faculty and staff. I am confident that Ben will provide clearly communicated, practical, pragmatic, and motivational leadership to Russellville Jr./Sr. High.”
Bruni is anxious to get started.
“I’m very excited about the position ... ,” he said. “All I’ve heard is about how great our kids are ... what a great school it is.”