New education chief takes reins in Germantown

Benjamin Bragg, the new superintendent of the Germantown Central School District. Contributed photo

GERMANTOWN — Benjamin F. Bragg is the new superintendent of the Germantown Central School District.

Bragg, the principal of Catskill High School, will take over beginning Nov. 7. He will succeed Susan Brown, who will retire at the end of October.

Brown was appointed superintendent in 2013. She served as the principal at the district’s elementary school since 2005.

“I think it’s important to be transparent and coherent and listen very closely and then empower those who have the ability to reach those students every day,” Bragg said. “I think it’s important to try to understand what the needs are and then build and set goals to meet and then exceed those.”

Bragg, 48, said he wants to be visible in the schools. He wants to get to know everyone’s name and learn something special about each of them.

Bragg, who lives in Highland, about 40 minutes from Germantown, was appointed by the school board during a special meeting Oct. 7.

He previously worked in the Charleston County School District in South Carolina from 2005 to 2018. He served in two middle school principal roles and as the director of leadership development in that district.

Bragg has also worked as a middle-school principal in Goshen Central School District and dean of students at the Highland Central School District. He started his career in public education as a physical education teacher and coach in the Wappingers Falls Central School District.

“I’m just excited to get started. I’m looking forward to being a difference in the students’ path and in Germantown,” Bragg said.

Bragg earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education K-12 at Ithaca College. He earned master’s degrees in administration leadership from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and in professional studies in humanistic education from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Bragg enjoys spending his free time with his wife, two children and grandson, and likes kayaking, hiking and fishing.

Germantown has about 600 students, according to its website. About 38% of the district’s students have opted for remote learning this school year.

“I think it’s important for the social, emotional and mental status of our kids to be able to go through school in person. It’s very difficult to be stuck at home,” Bragg said. “With the pandemic this has been a challenge. The No. 1 priority is the safety of our students and of our staff.”

The district superintendent earns a salary of $141,000, according to Germantown’s 2020-21 budget.

The school board’s search for a new superintendent began in June and 197 people in the community submitted feedback through an online survey about the characteristics they wanted to see in the next superintendent, Board of Education President Tammi Kellenbenz said.

The board received more than 20 applications for the position.

Kellenbenz said Bragg matches the candidate profile that was developed based on community feedback at the start of the search process.

“Benjamin Bragg stood out among a strong pool of candidates. He brings hands-on experience, enthusiasm and familiarity with our region. We look forward to working with him,” Kellenbenz said in a statement.

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