Super Senior: Ellen Bruneau

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 5:43 PM EDT
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DUXBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - A superhero comes in many forms. For Becky Busker, it’s Ellen Bruneau.

The pair work together at Harwood Union High School in Duxbury with special education students. Of course, the traditional definition of a superhero is someone with superpowers. Bruneau says she can only wish. “I’d have a great time if I could fly through the school,” she said.

Sophomore Ryan Shortsleeves isn’t buying any of it. “I don’t want to be rude but she doesn’t look like it,” he said. “She looks like she’s retired.”

“I’m going to be retiring this year,” adds Bruneau.

And that’s where this fantasy becomes reality.

Reporter Joe Carroll: When you first started, did you imagine you would be here for 45 years?

Ellen Bruneau: Never in a million years.

After walking the school’s halls thousands of times, this year will be her last. The 78-year-old wants to spend more time with her husband Roger. Now retired, he taught French and Latin at Harwood.

“She’s a very good person,” Roger said. “She’s funny sometimes, a lot of times she’s funny.” Bruneau also has a signature stare. “It’s a look. It’s her look -- you better be careful.”

“All I had to do is look at him and go... it’s the Mrs. Bruneau look,” Bruneau said.

“The hairy eyeball teacher look. Yeah, she’s good at it,” said Alison Watt, a speech-language pathologist at the school.

Back in the classroom, Bruneau is working with Saphire Powers and reminiscing over old yearbooks. “The kids today, they try to get them a job so we’re out in the community more. That never happened back then,” Bruneau said.

Shortsleeves has a fixation on superheroes, questioning why his instructors are insisting Bruneau is special. “Can you show me secretly?” he asks.

Watt tries to bring the teen’s expectations down to earth. “Unless you are willing to look at a human being and say, ‘Wow, you know how to make friends really well.’ That’s kind of a superpower,” she said.

“There’s never a day in my 18 years that that woman hasn’t said something positive to me and she makes my day,” Busker said. “She’s saved many a life here and she’s just wonderful.”

Proving that superheroes don’t need to fly.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What are you going to miss the most?

Ellen Bruneau: The kids, the kids. I love these kids.