CHAMPAIGN — When Centennial High School students return this fall, they’ll be greeted by a Purple Heart-winning new principal.
On Monday night, the Unit 4 school board unanimously voted to appoint Brian Riegler as Greg Johnson's successor at Centennial.
"I'm really excited to get on board to start," he said. "Centennial has a great staff, and I am impressed with the people I have met so far."
Riegler comes to Unit 4 from one of the state's largest high schools — Waukegan, with an enrollment of about 4,600 students. Centennial has about 1,350 students.
"I want to be in a smaller school, and I like being in a district where there is more than one high school," Riegler told The News-Gazette. "I look forward to having contact with the kids. When you work at a high school as large as Waukegan, you are so removed from the kids. I want to know the kids and know the parents."
He takes over July 1, replacing Johnson, who after seven years in the job is leaving to become assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction of the Oak Park and River Forest High School district.
Riegler, a combat veteran, served two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. In 1989, he was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves and will retire with the rank of commander later this year.
He began his career in education in 1995 as a high school history teacher at Thornton Fractional North. He has worked exclusively in high schools, with other stops at Plainfield (history teacher and dean of students), Morris Community (assistant principal), Herscher (principal), Crete-Monee (principal) and Waukegan (principal since 2012).
The board also appointed:
— Jeffrey Dobbs as principal at Dr. Howard Elementary. After a 16-year career as an elementary teacher in Bloomington, he joined Dr. Howard in 2015 as assistant principal.
— Lindsey Trout as the ACTIONS (Alternative to Suspension) program administrator. She has been a school social worker in Urbana’s Early Childhood Program since 2014, following five years as a social worker in Villa Grove schools.
— Jeron Blood as associate principal at Edison Middle School. A former special education teacher at Centennial, he was Edison’s assistant principal from 2014-16 and served as interim associate principal this school year.
— Jesse Guzman as associate principal, a position she held on an interim basis this school year, and summer school principal of Jefferson Middle School.
— Stratton Elementary Assistant Principal Amy Blomberg and Urbana Facilitator of Teachers Christina Ray as assistant principals/summer school principals at Garden Hills Elementary.