Marlboro Schools Superintendent Brooks to retire

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 4/13/22

Last week Marlboro Superintendent Michael Brooks announced to the school board that he will be retiring at the end of August after serving in the position for seven years.

Brooks spoke with the …

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Marlboro Schools Superintendent Brooks to retire


Last week Marlboro Superintendent Michael Brooks announced to the school board that he will be retiring at the end of August after serving in the position for seven years.

Brooks spoke with the Southern Ulster Times about his 33 year career in education and what lies ahead for him. He attended SUNY Oswego where he earned a degree in Education and received two certifications – nursery school through 6th grade and for 7th through 12th grades. Soon thereafter he began teaching Science in Washingtonville.

“I taught General Science for 7th and 8th grades and I taught Earth Science for 9th grade,” he said.

After teaching for eleven years, Brooks took a 7 month position as an assistant principal at the Monhagen Middle School in Middletown. In August 2000 he transferred to Cornwall High School, also serving as the Assistant Principal.

Brooks recalled his move into the administrative side of education.

“There was just something about it that I said I’d like to try to do this to see if I could affect a little bit more than my classroom in a positive way,” he said, adding that he definitely missed the classroom. “Each time you take a step up you get a little farther away from the classroom, so that is why I try to spend as much time in the schools to get to know the kids. Each one of these steps is another turn of the rubik’s cube, trying to get all the sides to the same color.”

After 15 years moving up the administrative ranks in Cornwall, Brooks applied for and got the Superintendent’s job in Marlboro in 2015. He said it was a comfortable move because of his familiarity with district operations but knew there were challenges ahead in Marlboro, especially with the fiscal impacts from the power plant bankruptcy.

“I’m a systems guy so I can diagnose things, figure out what’s going on and I can listen to people and I can help re-chart things so we can get back on track. I think that was really the challenge,” he said. “We needed to reset the clock so we’re focused again on getting ourselves back to good because the school system, the community and the people were in turmoil and it really needed to have a north star and we did; we found that north star again.”

Brooks is confident that the district has reclaimed their north star but stressed that the credit goes to a “we, because it is not something that any one person can do. You can certainly steer the ship and you can try to point towards things and try to keep people on the path.”

As proof of positive upward movement, Brooks pointed out that in 2021, 96% of students graduated with a Regents diploma from the Marlboro High School.

“That’s an unheard of number and that rivals top districts in our region,” he said. “That’s because of the hard work that the teachers put in, but more importantly that the kids charged themselves with; we want to go to the next level.”

Brooks said the district properly anticipated that math and reading were areas where students needed additional assistance, which the district addressed by obtaining federal grants aimed at helping students who were struggling in both their academic and emotional lives.

“We added 18 total positions between intervention support, academic support then psychologists and social workers and it has paid off,” he said.

Brooks said previous statistics showed that at the elementary school level a significant learning loss had occurred during the two-year pandemic. That appears to have turned around, with recent statistics showing positive advancements. He said this reveals, “that the kids are working hard and the teachers are focused on what they need to be focused on. They want to do well, they don’t want to do poorly.”

When contemplating retirement Brooks said. “I’m trying to look at the other side of life now,” fully knowing that it is time for him to make this move.

‘I think I have left everything on the table and I need to go on to the next phase of life; what that is I don’t know,” he said.

But Brooks is certain of one thing.

“I’ve been in school in September since I was five and I want to not be in school in September,” he laughed.

Brooks said he and his wife Judy are “outdoors kind of people” and once his wife retires from teaching, he expects they will travel to places of interest that they have not had the chance to see. Iceland is one destination on their bucket list.

The couple have two daughters, now 24 and 27 who work in Manhattan, one in marketing for a software company and the other in product development for a company specializing in clothing, handbags, shoes and other accessories.

Brooks said that everything at work and home has always been very planned, “and I’m looking forward to having an unstructured life for a while.” He said he fell in love with Marlboro right from the start, which has influenced other family members to move into the district since he took over the Superintendent’s position.

Brooks summed up his time in Marlboro.

“It’s a wonderful school district and is really a hidden gem in the Hudson Valley. It’s a beautiful community and the people have a passion for doing the right things for children,” he said.