Note: This story appears in the Thursday, June 6 newspaper on Page A1.
With four years of assistant principal experience already under his belt, Chad Springer says he is prepared to lead Athens High School as principal.
The new principal of AHS is a familiar face to students and parents — he taught physics for three years before becoming assistant principal in 2015.
As previously reported, the Athens school board hired Springer to a three-year contract as principal to replace David Hanning, who is taking the superintendent’s position at Federal Hocking Local Schools.
In an interview at his AHS office, Springer detailed his prior experience and his goals for the coming school year. Springer is a native of Norwalk in Northern Ohio, about 15 miles south of Cedar Point. He had initial plans in high school to become a marine biologist, though he later put himself through college by serving in the U.S. Army.
Springer eventually earned a chemistry degree from the University of Texas at Austin. His first job in education was teaching chemistry at Taylor Independent School District in Taylor, Texas, a town of about 17,000 residents.
While in Taylor, Springer experienced the process of opening a new high school in the district by teaching at Legacy Early College High School. On its website, Legacy describes itself as “an innovative high school” that gives students a chance to earn college credit alongside a high school diploma. Similar programs such as College Credit Plus would later become commonplace at districts throughout the country, including at AHS.
“You took students who struggled ... and you put them in a collegiate environment and push them to take college classes,” he said. “What (the district) taught us was how to work with students who struggled and put structure and supports in place to help them to excel in a collegiate environment.”
Springer and his wife, who worked at UT Austin, had a goal to return north from Texas. They sought a university town so she could continue her work, and both preferred living in a rural area. When Springer heard of the physics teacher position at AHS, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
“We wanted to get back to the country where we both grew up,” he said. “I started working here in the 2012-13 school year, and spent three years in physics. This is the best high school I’ve taught at (due to) the sheer amount of opportunities that the kids get.”
Springer said his time as a teacher prepared him to become assistant principal, which in turn helped prepare him to become principal.
“The institutional knowledge was there. I didn’t have a long breadth of it, but I knew enough,” he said of becoming assistant principal. “I knew families, I knew people who worked with the district. It’s different than coming in cold turkey. Being an assistant principal here prepared me to be a principal because again, I have that institutional knowledge. I know how this place operates, and I’ve had a hand in a lot of the improvements over the last few years.”
Taking his spot as assistant principal is John Rogers, the AHS athletic director. Springer said the two have worked together in recent years and described being excited to continue doing so. Springer said their leadership styles differ dramatically, but their personalities complement one another other.
The school board approved three-year contracts for both Springer and Rogers. Springer will earn $117,400 per year as principal and Rogers will earn $89,260 per year as assistant principal.
Overall, Springer said his goal is to maintain the positive momentum the school has garnered. He is already looking ahead to the eventual process of building a new Athens High School, which is projected to take place several years from now.