Interim principal settling in at Staples’ helm
Published 8:56 am, Monday, September 7, 2015
A little more than a week into the academic year at Staples High School and Mark Karagus, the new interim principal, says things are running smoothly there.
That includes the implementation of the new BYOD — Bring Your Own Device — policy, he said. There were no notable problems the first day of school when all students for the first time had to use their own laptops or similar device to register for classes, Karagus said.
“The students did a great job on their own,” he said. “I don’t think I heard of one issue about it.”
Karagus, 64, a Trumbull resident, has a one-year contract for the transitional job, replacing long-time Staples Principal John Dodig, who retired in June.
“My plan was to go in there and do a good job and work hard,” he said. “I’m here to give 110 percent every day.”
One challenge he’ll face in the 2015-16 academic year, he said, will be overseeing the high school’s accreditation by the NEASC (New England Association of Schools), a process done every 10 years.
“I want to have a successful visit by the accreditation team and acceptance of our study plan,” he said. “That’s my number one goal.” That process will begin in October, he noted.
He also wants to make sure that there is continuity at the school while he’s in charge. That goes for all aspects of school life from academics to sports to social activities, he said.
While Karagus is coming to Staples from a much smaller school, Trinity Catholic in Stamford with 469 students, he has served in top administrative posts at several schools with about the same student enrollment as Staples, which is currently approximately 1,900.
These include three Bridgeport schools: Warren Harding High School, his alma mater, and Blackham Middle School, where he served as secondary and intermediate-level principal, and Central High School, where he was an assistant principal. Karagus was also a housemaster at Norwalk High School.
“This is not new to me,” he said about overseeing a large number of students. And, he noted, it’s not one person running the show.
“You can’t have your hand in everything,” he said, adding a school operates smoothly only when “you have a collaborative effort from staff and personnel.”
“At Staples you have that,” he added.
He said that Staples is “a great placed to be and get educated.” Not only is the faculty supportive, but so are parents and the community, he said. “The community has made a great investment in education.”
“Staples has tremendous resources to provide an outstanding education to students,” he added, noting it’s one of the best high schools in the state.
Asked about his administrative style, Karagus, who has a doctorate in education from Nova Southwestern University in Florida, said that it would be a mistake to come into any school with one style and “make everyone conform.” Instead, he said, the effective administrator becomes part of the existing culture.
As for the coming academic year, Karagus said he plans to enjoy it, adding he would like his role to continue at Staples beyond the interim status. But, he added, the final decision regarding the next appointee to the Staples principal’s job is up to the Board of Education.
He said it depends on what direction the BOE wants to go in. He said he plans to do his best and see “where the chips fall.”
Karagus was a basketball official for 40 years. He enjoys collecting memorabilia, in particular anything related to the Beach Boys, Mickey Mantle, or the stars of the “Silver Screen.”
Mantle, he noted, was his hero, starting from the time he saw Mantle hit a home run in the first baseball game his father took him to. “I wore the number 7 in every sport I played after that,” he said.