GIBSON CITY — Chris Garard is excited to be returning to his hometown.
Garard, a 1984 Gibson City High School graduate who currently works as an assistant principal at Rantoul Township High School, was hired Wednesday as principal of Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School.
"This is a chance to go home," the 46-year-old Garard said Thursday. "I still have family, of course, in Gibson City, but the opportunity to come back after 25 years and bring my experiences back to my community is really exciting."
The GCMS school board voted unanimously to employ Garard, effective Oct. 1, with a three-year contract paying an annual salary of $80,000 plus benefits.
Garard replaces Mike Lindy, whose resignation goes into effect Oct. 1. Lindy has accepted a new job as superintendent of the El Paso-Gridley school district.
Garard was one of two finalists interviewed for the principal's job by the school board on Sept. 12. Thirty-two people applied.
"They were very thorough through their interview process," Garard said. "They were very concerned, of course, with the community aspect and community involvement, so they definitely knew what they were looking for."
Garard said he submitted his resignation at Rantoul Township High School on Thursday morning. He has been an assistant principal at the school since 2007.
Garard, who lives in Bloomington-Normal with his wife of 12 years, Remy, and their three children, said his family plans to move to Gibson City soon.
Garard was born and raised in Gibson City. In high school, he played football and basketball and ran track.
Garard attended Parkland College after high school and then earned a bachelor's degree in middle school education from Illinois State University in 1990. Garard earned his master's degree in education administration in 2000.
His first teaching job was at Hartsburg-Emden, where from 1990 to 1993 he taught sixth grade while also coaching junior high boys' basketball, junior high softball and high school baseball.
Garard taught eighth-grade science at Olympia Middle School from 1993 to 2004. He also was a varsity girls' basketball coach there for 10 years and coached high school boys' and girls' track.
After earning his master's degree, Garard served as an assistant principal at Bloomington High School from 2004 to 2007.