Deerfield-Middle High School principal Brad Johnsrud is wrapping up his last week in Deerfield, after ten years in the position.
Johnsrud will complete his tenure as principal on June 30. He announced his retirement in March.
He began teaching in the Cambridge School District. He then spent eight years in Richland Center as a teacher and coach. Johnsrud also worked for 18 years in the Fall River School District as a K-12 principal and athletic director before coming to Deerfield. In all, his career has spanned 37 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic, that closed schools mid-March, resulted in what Johnsrud called a unique conclusion to his career.
“This has been such a different end to the year,” Johnsrud said.
Johnsrud said the pandemic has lent perspective on Deerfield as a community.
The way that local residents celebrated 2020 graduates with car parades and special deliveries “was really symbolic of our school, how they banded together,” Johnsrud said. “It all comes back to having a really supportive community.”
“I’m really fortunate to have landed in Deerfield the last ten years,” he said. “In a community that really values its schools.”
Johnsrud got the chance to celebrate his retirement with Deerfield staff at a surprise picnic on June 23. Staff held a car parade for him at Deerfield High School and Superintendent Michelle Jensen held a short ceremony in the parking lot.
He said he was very surprised by the celebration, and called it a “cool ending,” to the year. He said he hadn’t expected the chance to say goodbye to staff members in-person. He had thought his final staff meeting over video call was his final goodbye.
Johnsrud hopes to be a part of a planned in-person Deerfield graduation ceremony in July, to say goodbye to students face to face.
He said he’ll remember working with great staff, well-behaved students, nice facilities and a supportive community.
“(Those are) things that will stay with me for a long time,” Johnsrud said. “I’ll miss those things, but it’ll be a new chapter of life.”
The Deerfield School Board hired Watertown native Brett Jacobson in April to fill Johnsrud’s role. He will start July 1.
Jacobson has worked since 2017 as a middle school science teacher in Waunakee. Before that, he taught middle and high school science in Tomah and La Mirada, California.
Jacobson said he was drawn to Deerfield for its commitment to extracurriculars as well as academics, and its small-town atmosphere.
“I wish a lot of luck to Mr. Jacobson as he steps in,” Johnsrud said, calling him a “great role model.”
“It’s not really about me retiring, it’s about our school really continuing to prosper,” he continued. “That’s my biggest hope.”
In his retirement, Johnsrud hopes to travel more often.