Bound for Seoul

Lakeshore High School Principal Brad Brunner relaxes in his office Friday. He handed in his resignation Monday as he and his family make plans to move to Seoul, South Korea, where he will be the director of teaching and learning at the Yongsan International School Seoul. His wife, Karen Brunner, will be a math teacher at the school.

STEVENSVILLE — Lakeshore High School Principal Brad Brunner said he’s bittersweet about his announcement to leave Lakeshore Public Schools to be a school leader in South Korea for two years.

He said he and his wife, Karen Brunner, will work at Yongsan International School Seoul (YISS), where he will be the director of teaching and learning while his wife will be a high school math teacher.

“We are as excited as we are very sad,” said Brunner, who is in his fourth year as the district high school principal. “Lakeshore is our home. We love it. It’s great for our kids. We love the schools. I love my job. I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world, in my opinion.”

But, he said they know that if they don’t do it now, they may never do it.

Lakeshore Superintendent Phil Freeman said he’s sad to see Brunner go.

“He’s had a positive impact on the culture at the high school,” he said. “At the same time, I’m excited for him and his family to take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity.

Brunner said he and his wife met 12 years ago in Plymouth, England, during a master’s degree program through Michigan State University that was designed for international teachers and school leaders. 

He said it was their dream to work at one of the thousands of international schools throughout the world. 

“At the same time, I already had a job in the state of Michigan and so did my wife,” he said. “We wanted to keep those jobs for a little bit and establish ourselves. And then we started a family and before you know it, this dream we had of doing international education, we kind of wrote it off as something we should have done when we were younger, and it wasn’t going to happen.”

He said they started thinking about it, again, when their youngest of three boys turned 3.

“He’s at that point where we can envision him following you in the airport,” Brunner said.

His other two boys are ages 6 and 7.

“Our kids are the exact right age to do this,” he said. “If they were older, like in middle school or high school, at that point, they’re so ingrained in their lives here that you can’t take them out of it without traumatizing your child a bit.” 

Brunner said he and Karen went to an international job fair recently and were offered multiple jobs. In the end, he said YISS was the best fit for the family.

“It’s an international school, so everything is taught in English,” he said. “They actually use the Readers and Writers Workshop (curriculum), which is what they use at Hollywood Elementary School.”

Brunner said his last day at Lakeshore is June 30, and they leave for Seoul in July.

“Lakeshore’s our home,” he said. “We’d love to come back someday. We just don’t know how we’re going to respond. I’ve never moved the family halfway across the world. Who knows. After two years, we might be chomping at the bit to come home. We might be looking to stay longer. I have no idea what to expect.”

Brunner is originally from Spring Lake and his wife is from Northville. Brunner was the assistant principal at the high school for one year before becoming the principal. Before that, he said he taught social studies and Spanish in the Lansing area for 10 years.

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege