Teachers and staff welcome next Grayling Elementary School principal
Sat, 05/22/2021 - 4:19pm caleb
Current principal Gina Brunskill to retire in June, new principal working on transition
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling Elementary School teachers and staff members welcomed the facility’s next principal – Shauna Bergwall, currently a principal in Florida – during a meet and greet event at the school on Thursday. Gina Brunskill, the current Grayling Elementary School principal, is retiring at the end of the school year.
Bergwall said her experiences with the Crawford AuSable School District have been positive so far as she works on the transition.
“It’s been so great and welcoming,” Bergwall said.
Bergwall’s husband is from Petoskey – they met as students while attending the University of Florida – and she said it’s been their plan for a long time to move to northern Michigan, although it’s now happening sooner than they expected. Bergwall said she learned of the open position at Grayling Elementary School from one of her husband’s Michigan relatives.
“I can’t believe that this has actually happened. I’m excited,” Bergwall said.
Bergwall said her family has relatives in West Branch and Tawas and friends in Petoskey.
“They’re super excited we’re coming home,” Bergwall said. “This has been our plan for 15, 20 years, to move to Michigan when we were older. We didn’t know it would happen this soon.”
The Bergwalls – the couple has two adult children – have made regular trips to the Grayling area in the past. Her husband is an avid fly fisherman, she said. They also enjoy cross country skiing, playing disc golf, snowshoeing, and bicycling.
“We are no strangers to Grayling,” Bergwall said.
Bergwall said her kids plan to stay in Florida, but they will continue to make trips to Michigan.
“They’re staying and we’re leaving. That will be hard,” Bergwall said.
Bergwall said she currently serves a very large school district and she’s looking forward to joining a smaller community.
“I’m so excited to work for a small district. I’m really welcoming that small community feel,” Bergwall said.
Bergwall said Brunskill has been a valuable resource as the school makes the transition. Brunskill’s last day as principal is June 30.
“She’s been so gracious,” Bergwall said. “Change is always hard but I plan to sit back a little and see what’s working really well and see what changes need to happen.”
Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Justin Gluesing said Bergwall “set herself apart as a top candidate during each round of the interviews.”
“We’re excited for her and her husband to move to the area this summer and be ready for the school year next fall,” Gluesing said.
Brunskill is finishing her eighth year as principal of the Grayling Elementary School. She has also served as the assistant principal and dean of students at the school and she was a third grade teacher for many years. She said her favorite part of the job is “the kids.”
“I just love the little ones,” Brunskill said.
Brunskill said she “had no plan” career-wise as a young adult and it took a while to earn her bachelor’s degree. She found her calling by accident.
“I kind of struggled to find myself. I worked in a day care while in college and I thought, ‘I really love this, I love these little people and the potential they had,’ but I needed a little bit more structure. That’s when I pursued education,” Brunskill said. “If you follow your passion and you follow your heart you’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to be.”
Brunskill said she’s happy the school has been able to implement and grow programs like the Extended Learning Year and the Early Child Program.
Brunskill said the Early Child Program for four-year-olds has grown over the years from 16 kids attending half-day sessions to 60 kids attending full days of preschool.
The Extended Learning Year offers school sessions for students from August through the last full week of June with additional breaks built into the year. Brunskill said the longer school year with the added breaks allows for better continuity for both teachers and students.
“ELY was always a dream of mine. That really was a dream that came true,” Brunskill said.
What’s next for Brunskill?
“I’m going to get a tan,” she said.
She also plans to spend more time with her three grandchildren. She said she’s glad she will be able to “say yes more often and go to their events.”
“That time goes by fast,” Brunskill said.
She will also continue her duties as administrator for the Grayling Co-op Preschool, which will allow her to keep working with kids.
“My passion really lies in early intervention and early childhood,” Brunskill said.
Brunskill is a Grayling High School alumnus and she said it’s been a great experience to serve the community in which she grew up.
“This community made me who I am. It’s been an honor and a privilege to give back the opportunities I’ve been given. It is a choice, and it worked out great,” Brunskill said.
Brunskill said she thinks Bergwall will be successful as the next principal of Grayling Elementary School.
“She is really excited and really happy to be here,” Brunskill said. “I think she’s a perfect fit.”