July 17, 2013 - Joyce Brasington has been an Oxford Wildcat her entire life, first as a student, then as a school employee and finally as an administrative leader and parent.
Daniel Axford Principal Joyce Brasington, a 1982 OHS graduate, has taken an administrative position with the Troy school district. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Oxford isn't simply a job to her or another line on her resume – it's her home, it's her passion.
"I feel like I was a really good ambassador for Oxford Community Schools," Brasington said. "It was really important for me to connect with students and families. I have a great sense of pride in everything that I helped accomplish."
That's why it's so very hard for her to leave the district that not only educated her, but also proided her with the opportunity to teach others and impact young lives for the better.
"It was a difficult decision, but it feels right," she said.
Last week, Brasington, who's been principal at Daniel Axford Elementary for the last four years, was hired by the Troy school district. She will be the new principal for Wattles Elementary School. Her first day on the job is Aug. 6.
"I think being part of a larger district gives you additional opportunities," she explained. "One day, I might want to become a district administrator, so I really thought it was important that I experience more than just one school district."
"Troy has an outstanding reputation," Brasington added. "Their student achievement scores really are second to none."
Although Troy offers potential career advancement and educational excellence, Brasington, who lives in Metamora Township, said she's truly going to miss "that sense of community and familiarity" that comes from living and working in the same place.
"It's a great place to work and go to school," she said.
Brasington, a 1982 graduate of Oxford High School, definitely has this small town coursing through her veins.
Her first job was stuffing papers for The Oxford Leader at age 14. She also recalled working at the Oxford Twin Cinema, where she popped popcorn for patrons.
Ironically, her educational journey began on Mechanic St. at Daniel Axford Elementary, the same place her Oxford career is now ending.
"I went to kindergarten there in 1968," Brasington said. "It was sort of a full-circle thing when I became principal."
Brasington was hired by Oxford in August 1995 after teaching adult education for the Taylor school district.
"I've always loved being part of a school," she said.
She started out teaching language arts and business at the high school and middle school. She also served as advisor to the high school's yearbook and newspaper staffs.
Brasington later became a counselor at the high school and middle school.
She was then promoted to assistant principal at OMS and spent five years in that role. During that time, she was named the 2004 Kiwanian of the Year by the Oxford-Orion Kiwanis Club, a group committed to helping local youth.
Leonard Elementary gave Brasington her first opportunity to run the show. In 2005, she was named principal.
Four years later, she made her mark as Leonard Elementary was recognized as a Michigan Blue Ribbon Exemplary School, the highest state honor a school can achieve.
"That was just a great accomplishment for the community and our staff," Brasington said. "It was one of the highlights of my career."
In 2009, Brasington took over as principal at Daniel Axford Elementary and made another significant impact there as the school was authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School last year.
While winning the Blue Ribbon and gaining IB status are impressive feats, Brasington said, "To me, the real successes were the everyday student achievements in the classroom."
"Whenever I could remove obstacles and barriers for staff and watch students grow academically, that was huge," she said. "Those successes mean the most."
Brasington is continuing her career at the elementary level because that's really where it all begins for every student.
"I love having the responsibility of being a child and a family's first experience with the school," she said. "That whole first experience is so important. I really am challenged to make that special and help foster that love for learning."
Making a student's first exposure to school a positive one can also help draw parents in as active volunteers for many years to come, according to Brasington.
"If they have a great experience at the elementary level, they stay involved through middle school and high school," she said. "That really excites me when I can say that I helped build that first relationship with Oxford Community Schools."
But just because Brasington is changing who signs her paycheck doesn't mean she's abandoning Oxford. "I'm anxious to still be involved in the community because I still live here," she said.
Her daughter Jennifer is going to start her sophomore year at OHS in the fall. Her other daughter, Jessica, a 2012 OHS graduate, is now attending Michigan State University.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.