Hats off to our Principal

Jack Zhang‘14
EE News Editor

Three years ago I sat in Dr. Tremaglio’s office, interviewing him for my first newspaper article. As a freshman, I was slightly intimidated to be interviewing such a high-ranking figure in my first few weeks of freshman year.

However, when I walked in, I was impressed by his personable manner and how easy it was to talk to him. Now as the year comes to the close, it seems only fitting that we tip our hats goodbye to a principal that has brought so much to the school. This time around, he still had a lively and attentive attitude, but also slightly quieter, more thoughtful tone.

Was this a recent decision or one you’ve decided on for some time?

It was very sudden, not anything that I planned. It basically comes down to a decision that does not happen very often in public education. Usually when you reach a certain point in this business, you retire and say ‘I’m going to have a nice life.’ And then do some personal things that you like to do. That’s great for others, but I know that’s not my life, I am just too driven. I am a driven human being. I could have stayed for a number years, but this job takes a physical and mental toll on my body, mental health, and my ability to do things.

This is the first year I have experienced some sickness in the wintertime. I didn’t take any days off, but for six weeks I had bronchitis issues, and I was under a lot of stress. Then the administrative job at the agriscience building opened. When I looked at it, initially it didn’t hit me, but then I thought if I took that job I would still be connected to Trumbull, be able to work with the students, be connected to the campus, have a little bit of challenge, and still be in the same environment.

It’s very bittersweet in many ways. I love the students, I love the staff, but sooner or later you have to make or break. I can’t live here forever, so it was more opportunistic than anything else.

What have other people’s responses been like?

Well I am proud to say that many people have offered their support and wished me luck no matter what I do. I know I am blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

What is the one thing you will miss the most?

With great influence goes great demands and I like that. I like the challenge, to climb the higher mountain. Being principal has been the most difficult thing of my career. And now it’s reaping all the things we have changed, all the things we have improved have come to roost and that’s a very wonderful thing. And that’s what I’ll miss the most, seeing people thrive. Seeing people thrive, and that’s what I get excited about, what I’m still excited about.

Since I was a child, I have always liked learning. Nothing gets me excited more than learning. That may sound like a crazy thing for some people, but I measure my day by how many things I have learned. I just feel better. And when you make learning a priority, your life becomes enriched.

What is the most important thing you have brought to this school?

I think the climate. There’s a different sense of what going to school here means. What I’ve been most adamant about is that achievement can come in many forms. You don’t have to be in the NHS or get into Harvard; it’s about finding your voice and your own pathway for success. At the end of the day, at graduation when you can look at yourself and say you have become a better person. That’s what achievement is. I know my whole life I have been trying to set a good example of achievement by working hard to become the reputation one of the best schools in Connecticut.

When people ask me why do I work so hard, I tell them, ‘If I don’t work so hard, how can I ask them to work hard? If I don’t show achievement, how do I ask them to achieve?’

It’s not just one way; you have to invest in one another. I care about every single student, every single staff member, and every single family and I work the best way to lead them.

What is the most difficult part of your job here?

I don’t just cave in to what anybody wants. Sometimes I have to compromise, and sometimes I have to struggle with very difficult decisions and sometimes they’re unpopular. And I’m not here to make everyone happy. It takes a lot of courage and a devotion to a standard that not everyone may believe in. And many people may believe they know a lot about education, but I have been in the business for almost 40 years, and even I don’t know everything.

How is THS different than other schools you’ve been at?

There are two things. First is the vastness of it. I call it a campus for a reason. The student body is bigger than a lot of colleges. Second, is the idea that potential is limitless. I think it can reach higher levels of achievement because all the ingredients are there – a diverse community, devoted staff members, and funding to compensate. Some schools don’t have that because they are limited by their resources, but here I truly believe the sky is the limit.

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