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Executive Q&A: Headmaster marks 25 years at Oklahoma City private school

Executive Q&A: Four relatives of Headmaster Guy Bramble work alongside him at Heritage Hall.
by Paula Burkes Modified: September 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: September 29, 2013

Heritage Hall's Guy Bramble on Thursday celebrated 25 years as headmaster of the school — a milestone that observers say is rarely reached at private schools nationwide.

“I love what I do,” Bramble said. “It's a mission and a calling. I'm able to be part of something bigger than I am and couldn't hope to achieve as an individual.”

Since he came in 1988, the school at 1800 NW 122 has grown to 100 full-time faculty and 190 employees. About 860 students, from prekindergarten to 12th grade, attend classes in nine buildings situated on 112 acres.

The fourth head of school at Heritage, Bramble alone has graduated more than 2,000 alumni. He oversees an annual budget of $13 million, he said.

From the school's media center, Bramble, 67, sat down with The Oklahoman on Tuesday to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:

Q. Tell us about your roots.

A. I grew up in metropolitan Detroit, where my parents had a small printing and advertising business. I attended public schools until my sixth-grade teacher recommended my parents send me to a private school, where she thought I'd be more challenged. They enrolled me in Cranbrook School for Boys in Bloomfield Township, Mich., where I boarded one year, until they and my younger sister moved closer to the school; then I was a day student. Cranbook became a magical place for me. I loved it. There were only 10 to 12 kids in a section, and I played soccer, ice hockey and baseball. I graduated in '64 in a class of 55.

Q. And college?

A. Following graduation, I spent a year abroad studying English and history on a full scholarship to Repton School, a private boarding school in the English Midlands with which Cranbrook had an exchange program. I was a National Merit Scholar and started college the following year at Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., earning a bachelor of arts in 1969. After several years teaching, I in 1975 went back to school to earn a master's in education at Harvard University. It was an exciting year; I was doing exactly what I wanted to do in the place I wanted to do it. As an adult, I had a clear vision of what I wanted: to become a better teacher, and the issues that concerned me, including moral development, or why smart kids make ethical decisions that don't reflect their intellect.

Q. You went to an all-boys school and on to a then small, all-male college. When was your first date?

A. I was socially retarded. My first date was to the prom my junior year. There was a girls school across the lake from us. I dated a little more my senior year, and quite a bit in college. For my mother, that meant no marriage until I checked off all my accomplishments. I was 27 when I met my wife (Julie). I was working a summer job as an tennis instructor at a Cleveland private school-turned-tennis club in the summer, and she was playing her brother on an adjacent court. Atypical for me, I called her over and suggested her backhand needed work and that if she'd book the last lesson of the day the following Friday, I'd give her a few pointers, and we could talk about it over dinner. I'd hoped she was at least a senior in college, but she was only 19 and starting her sophomore year at Middlebury. We dated the rest of the summer and throughout her sophomore year. When she was a junior, I was at Harvard, so we were able to see one another quite a bit that year and the following year, when I taught in Massachusetts. We married upon her college graduation in '77.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Position: Heritage Hall, headmaster

Birth date: May 1, 1946

Birthplace: Detroit

Family: Julie, married in 1977; daughter Kristen Ferguson, 31, and son Jamie Bramble, 27; granddaughter Layne Ryan, a Heritage Hall fifth-grader; and grandsons Finn Ryan, a Heritage Hall preschooler, and Westley Ferguson, 1

Education: Amherst College, bachelor's in American studies; Harvard University, master's in education

Coaching awards: 2000 Oklahoma High School Soccer Coach of the Year and 1973 Ohio High School Soccer Coach of the Year

Pastimes: Playing with grandchildren and reading (He recently finished “1776” and is working on “Unbroken”)


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