A new leader will be pounding his chest at Lawrence High School next school year.
Matt Brungardt was announced this week as the new principal of the school, 1901 La., known as “the home of the chesty lion.” He was selected from 20 applicants to lead 1,255 students and about 150 teachers beginning in July.
“I’m excited for this opportunity,” Brungardt said. “It’s a great chance to continue focusing on the academic excellence of Lawrence High and the traditions of this school.”
Brungardt, who has served for six years as an associate principal at LHS, will take over for Steve Nilhas, who is leaving the district at the end of June.
Nilhas, a six-year principal at LHS, is leaving to pursue other professional interests, which he declined to discuss on Friday.
Lawrence school Superintendent Randy Weseman, who retires at the end of the school year, made the ultimate selection of Brungardt for the position, with the assistance of other school administrators. His selection must be approved by the school board.
Four finalists for the position were screened by three committees that included teachers, staff, parents and students. The candidates also had to complete writing assignments, a public presentation, and interviews with Weseman and incoming Superintendent Rick Doll.
“Matt emerged from this very rigorous process as being the right person to lead Lawrence High right now,” said Bruce Passman, deputy school superintendent, who participated in the selection.
Student body president Ben Wilson, who sat on the student advisory committee that interviewed the candidates, said Brungardt takes care of business and is well liked by a majority of students.
“I’m very excited that they chose him,” said Wilson, a senior at the school. “He knows Lawrence High; he knows our traditions. … He’ll be able to keep this ship blowing.”
‘A good vision’
Ken Click, one of about a dozen parents who interviewed the candidates, said the committee had positive thoughts about all the finalists. But, he’s satisfied with Brungardt’s selection.
“I believe that Dr. Brungardt will do a fine job at LHS,” said Click, a parent of a graduating senior and an incoming sophomore at the school. “He seems to have a good vision of where he wanted to take LHS.”
Brungardt said one of the biggest challenges he’ll focus on when he takes over is increasing the school’s reading test scores. The school earned the Kansas Standard of Excellence in 2008 for its performance on the state’s math assessment, an award Brungardt said he’s determined to also accomplish for reading assessments.
“Come July, when I take over for Steve, I think we’ll be ready to roll our sleeves up and get after what we know we need to get after,” Brungardt said.
The new leader said he also looks forward to completion of the school’s new on-site athletics fields and said there will be many opportunities to work with students on hosting new events at the school, as a result.
Brungardt previously was principal and dean of academics at Kapaun Mount Carmel High School, a school of 825 students in Wichita.
His prior educational experience includes teaching social sciences at Bishop Hogan High School in Kansas City, Mo.; serving as assistant principal and social science instructor at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park; and serving as assistant principal at Kapaun Mount Carmel High School.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science at Kansas University, Brungardt earned a master’s in educational administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his doctorate in education at St. Louis University.
Brungardt and his wife, Courtney, have two sons: Cole, 10, and Ross, 8. Both attend Langston Hughes School. Brungardt’s father, Pete, is a state senator from Salina.