LAWRENCE: Instrumental music room dedicated to longtime school board member Michael Brindle

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W. Michael Brindle

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
LAWRENCE — Teaching music to children and serving on the school board were among Michael Brindle’s passions, so it was an easy decision to dedicate the instrumental music room at Lawrence High School in Mr. Brindle’s memory.
Mr. Brindle, who died in 2015, served on the Lawrence Township Board of Education for 21 years — from 1991 to 2012 — and taught instrumental music in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District for nearly 40 years before retiring.
A plaque naming Lawrence High School’s music room as the “W. Michael Brindle Music Room” was unveiled at the school board’s Oct. 19 meeting. Mr. Brindle’s wife, Jean Brindle, and his daughter, Janet Brindle Reddick, as well as his sister, Tori Sosha, and niece Jennifer Hannah Richardson, were on hand.
The suggestion to rename the music room in Mr. Brindle’s honor was raised at a school board meeting earlier in the year. Mr. Brindle was a career musician who played the French horn and also taught instrumental music, said school board member Laura Waters.
Ms. Waters, who is wrapping up 12 years on the school board, recalled the friction between the school board and herself and her two running mates, Leon Kaplan and Bill Michaelson, when the threesome first took their seats on the board.
“Leon, Bill and I, who came on the board together, were perceived — correctly, I suppose — as a threat (to the other board members),” Ms. Waters said. “But Mike never treated us that first year with anything but warmth, courtesy and generosity.”
“Mike was always willing to take the time to school us rookies on arcane board protocol and process. Most school boards follow Robert’s Rules of Order. We followed the far superior Mike’s Rules of Order,” Ms. Waters said.
Ms. Waters recalled that during her second year on the school board, she was elected board president and Mr. Brindle was elected to be the board’s vice president. “He was the board’s institutional memory, the board’s conscience and my teacher,” she said.
Noting that Mr. Brindle served on the school board for seven terms, or 21 years, Ms. Waters said that while it can get tedious, “Mike had this extraordinary ability to maintain his focus on the gratification and camaraderie that is also part of being a school board member.”
Ms. Waters said she will always admire Mr. Brindle’s combination of essential optimism and “gruff sweetness,” as well as his quick mind, sharp humor and attentiveness to detail. Although he and his wife took many trips after his retirement, “somehow, he never lost his focus on his responsibilities as a board member. He prioritized the needs of the schoolchildren.”
“Mike was a teacher, but he wasn’t a pedant. He taught by example. He taught me that a school district is a community, enlarged in ever-expanding concentric circles from school board to administration to staff to children to parents to all of Lawrence Township,” she said.
“Without that cohesion, we become lesser than the sum of our parts,” she said. “But with that sense of family, we become exponentially greater. When we are at our best, we are a team, a family and a community. Mike’s essence is what we are like when we are at our best.”
“He is still our teacher. He always will be,” Ms. Waters said.
After Ms. Waters completed her remarks, Ms. Brindle thanked the school board for honoring her late husband. Noting that the plaque brings “closure,” she added that “I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”
Superintendent of Schools Crystal Edwards said the school board “will always have a piece of Mike with us,” and thanked Ms. Brindle for sharing her husband with the school board for 21 years. 