The Cheshire Board of Education Thursday night unanimously approved the appointment of Jeff Solan as the next principal at Cheshire High School. Solan takes over for outgoing principal Kevin Ryan, whose resignation took effect June 30.
“This is one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Board of Education Chairman Gerald Brittingham said of the appointment. “At the first interview, I was greatly impressed with his vision, character and enthusiasm.”
Solan, who has been at Dodd Middle School for seven years—four as principal and three as assistant principal--was the only person considered for the job, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Greg Florio. “He has done an outstanding job leading that school,” Florio told the board.
Solan, who will earn $136,330 in his new post, said Florio and Asst. Superintendent of Schools Scott Detrick approached him about the job several weeks ago.
“I was certainly enthusiastic and honored to even be considered for this position,” he said.
Solan characterized his relationship with former CHS principal Ryan as a good one and said Ryan encouraged him to take the position.
Ryan was asked to submit his resignation several weeks ago after attendance and inconsistency became an issue, according to Florio. Ryan agreed to resign back in April, but the announcement was purposely withheld until after graduation, Florio has said.
Although he is looking forward to his new position, Solan said leaving Dodd is “incredibly bittersweet.” He expressed great respect for the staff and said he has enjoyed working so closely with them. He also looks forward to seeing the familiar faces of his former middle school students as they make their way up to the high school.
Solan said it is his relationship with former Dodd principal Don Wailonis that drew him to Cheshire back in 2005. He had met Wailonis previously, and when he learned there was a chance to work with him, he jumped at it, leaving his position as assistant principal in Ansonia.
Wailonis will serve as interim principal at Dodd until a permanent candidate is found to replace Solan. Florio said the search is expected to begin within a month and may continue into the fall. If a strong candidate isn’t found by then, Wailonis has agreed to serve out the year, and the search will resume in the spring, Florio explained.
Solan, who lives in Wallingford with his wife and two sons, ages 3 and 6, describes himself as a consensus builder. “I have a good sense of humor. I want to make school fun for the students and staff,” he said.
When asked how he will handle the high expectations the citizens of Cheshire have of the high school, Solan replied, “I have very high expectations myself.” He said the school system has such a good reputation because the educators who work there share those expectations.
So what’s first on Solan’s agenda as CHS’s new principal?
“I’m going to Disney World!” he laughed. He leaves for a planned family vacation on Saturday before taking on his new duties.