Barrington Area Unit District 220's newly appointed Superintendent Brian Harris wasted no time Friday getting reacquainted with the community he served as an assistant principal during the 1990s.
Just a day after being named to succeed the departing Tom Leonard, Harris attended a breakfast for graduating Barrington High School seniors before moving on to a pair of receptions -- one for the district staff and the other for community leaders.
Barrington Village President Karen Darch said there are specific ways in which the district and the seven villages it serves work together. Her own village, for instance, provides a police liaison officer at Barrington High School and collaborates with the school district on emergency planning.
"The school district is so defining in terms of the community it behooves us to work together," Darch said.
Cynthia Kalegeropoulos, principal of District 220's Grove Avenue School, said it was a blessing to see a former colleague return as the new superintendent.
"He has roots in our community, which is a good thing," Kalegeropoulos said. "In my case, I'm going to have someone to work with that I trust, because my relationship with him as been positive as a colleague. Establishing a real trusting relationship takes time."
Harris was assistant principal at Barrington Middle School-Station Campus from 1993 to 1998. He returns to the district from his recently resigned job as superintendent of Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200.
Barrington Township Supervisor Gene Dawson said he's looking forward to the same good working relationship with Harris that he's had with Leonard. Dawson said his wife, Jane, knows Harris from when she worked at Lines Elementary School next door to Barrington Middle School-Station Campus.
"When she saw the announcement yesterday, she was very pleased," Dawson said.
Harris met with PTO presidents, education foundation members, principals and teachers Friday. He said about half of them were familiar from his prior time with the district 16 years ago.
Harris said it's hard to imagine the difference going to an unfamiliar district would have made. He said his previous experience with District 220 was the specific reason he chose to seek the job.
"This was a very personal choice for me as well as a professional one," Harris said.
Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne Corr said she wanted to meet Harris immediately because of the importance of education to the local business community. Also, Barrington High School will be hosting the chamber's community expo on Saturday, June 14.
"I think for the chamber and the school district, it's important to have a healthy relationship," Corr said. "They are grooming our next generation of entrepreneurs and business owners."
Former Barrington Trustee Jack Schaefer and former District 220 board member Joe Kelsch met Harris on behalf of the Barrington Area Development Council. Schaefer is the council's current president, and Kelsch the manager of its Project Horsepower, which has raised more than $23,000 to provide Internet service to low-income students in the district.
"It was the outgoing superintendent (Leonard) who helped start that up," Schaefer said. "We're very much in tune with the school district."
Harris will be deputy superintendent until Leonard leaves for his new job as superintendent of the Eanes Independent School District in the suburbs of Austin, Texas.