David Brauninger was not actively seeking to move from his position as principal at Lt. Peter M. Hansen Elementary School in Canton when he heard about the administrative opening at Elmwood School.
But after researching the Hopkinton district and its focus areas, Brauninger felt there was a match to his values.
“I actually really enjoyed the process,” he said, referring to the interviews and interactions that followed with not only administrators and teachers but also other staff, the School Committee, community members, parents and students.
After growing up in Millis, Brauninger was familiar with Hopkinton, and his application built on that knowledge.
“I learned more about the school and community, and it gave people the opportunity to ask me questions,” he explained. “Everyone was awesome … fantastic … and I’m really excited and thankful for the trust that has been put in me so far and looking forward to getting started.”
Brauninger officially begins as Elmwood principal on July 1, replacing Anne Carver, who is retiring.
“I have big shoes to fill,” he acknowledged, adding that his first few weeks will be devoted to “talking to people, learning a ton and trying to be available to get to know as much as possible” before planning for the opening of the school year.
Lt. Peter M. Hansen Elementary School has 540 students in Grades K-5, while Elmwood School serves Grades 2-3 and has approximately 630 kids. Brauninger is aware that Hopkinton’s enrollment “is on the upswing,” and the district is proposing a new Elmwood facility to accommodate Grades 2-3-4. Schematic plans are expected to be finalized this summer before moving to a Special Town Meeting vote in November.
If successful, the project will appear on a Special Town Election ballot, with voters asked to fund it over multiple years through a debt exclusion.
Brauninger said he heard from Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh about the project and understands it could be a major part of his job. Although he is uncertain whether he will become a non-voting member of the Elementary School Building Committee (ESBC) as Carver is now, Brauninger is anticipating having “a voice at the table” and working with contractors and facilities personnel to address space needs.
Brauninger added that his experience with building projects dates back several years, when his district put on an eight-classroom addition.
The incoming principal said a career in education was not on his radar until his senior year of college.
While pursuing a B.A. in criminal justice from Stonehill College, his vision was to join the state police. An internship at an alternative school in Brockton changed those plans following graduation.
He began his career at Franklin High School, where he worked as a special education teacher and alternative learning program coordinator/chair.
He also previously served as student services coordinator at Canton High School.
At the time, Brauninger said, the thought was to one day become a high school assistant principal. Instead, he filled an “interim” role when a principal at the elementary level left mid-year.
“I quickly loved it,” he said. “It was engaging at a different, early side of education.”
Brauninger described students at the elementary level as “excited, honest and engaging.” He appreciates working with children that age because “it’s really a moment in time, an opportunity for growth, learning and building skills,” he said.
In addition to his criminal justice degree, Brauninger earned a master’s of education in organizational management from Endicott College and completed the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association Leadership Licensure Program.
Cavanaugh said Brauninger’s background in special education “adds a layer of depth to his instructional leadership.” She added, “David came so highly regarded. It didn’t matter who we spoke with. People in Canton, where David was an elementary school principal, sang his praises.”
Brauninger lives in Uxbridge with his wife and two sons.