George Alexis was able to immediately thank one of his high school mentors after the appointed him to replace Thomas DiGanci as principal, Monday. After the vote, Alexis stood at the podium and turned to his right to thank...Thomas DiGanci.
The Watchung Hills Regional graduate, now vice principal at Chatham High School, said he'd been inspired by "a brilliant young Modern European History teacher"—and nodded to Dr. DiGanci.
"I can't think of an opportunity that would be more meaningful," he said. "As I think about my past and the influences that have helped me learn and grow, it all comes back to Watchung Hills High School."
He said his appointment was "like coming home."
In addition to being a school alum, Alexis' other credentials include holding a law degree from Fordham University, and a masters in English Education from Columbia—and selection for the NCAA Academic All American teamnin 1987 as an undergraduate at Georgetown. He taught briefly at WHRHS, and worked at Hunterdon Central before he was named English supervisor at Chatham in 2002.
He was promoted to vice principal in 2010.
Alexis was chosen over eight other candidates interviewed for the position, and Superintendent of Schools Frances Stromsland noted she was impressed by his "passion for teaching."
"His understanding of curriculum, his understanding of lesson design, his understanding of assessments—and also the way he knows how technology plays into all of those areas...propelling us on the trajectory that's been so positive over the last six or seven years," Dr. Stromsland said.
Board members involved in the selection also praised Alexis' background—board Vice President Harold Grossnickle said he believes Alexis' background brings skills "which will appeal to students."
Alexis is a resident of Basking Ridge, where his three children attend the public schools.
Details on his salary were not available at the meeting.
When asked if the WHRHS graduate could find his lockers, he said he could probably find at least where one had been.
"It was over in the far end of the school," he said, standing outside the school library and pointing towards the south building.
The board members, happy to have completed the difficult task of finding a new principal to take over after Dr. DiGanci's retirement at the end of June, welcomed Alexis back to the school.
"This is exciting," Board President Robert Horowitz said. "This is what it's all about: making sure our kids are in great hands with our new principal—it doesn't get better than this."