New principal jumped from sixth grade to high school in a matter of months

Learn more about Oak Park’s new Principal Chris McCann.

Brynlee Tucker and Katie Klepper, photographer

Over the summer, Chris McCann, Ed.D., went from being the principal at the sixth-grade center Eastgate to the principal at Oak Park, this brings a mass difference in the energy and behavior of the students.

Interim principal Chris McCann, Ed.D., joined Oak Park for the 2021-2022 school year.

“I think that the biggest analogy that I can come up with is that, the sixth-grade center kind of middle school in general, it’s more like a fire hose,” said McCann. “Where it’s just going, going, going, going when it’s going like every classroom kids are moving around, you know there’s a lot of that energy, but then you kind of have to work everybody together. And then, but you can shut off the hose when school’s out. It’s over. Right, so it’s like full energy, and then it stops.”

Going from middle schoolers to leading high schoolers is a whole new challenge.

“I think a high school, I feel like it’s more like a river,” said McCann. “Like, sometimes in a river. It’s very slow. You know sometimes you have rapids, some but it’s always moving. You know even when you look at the river. It looks like it’s still, you know when you get down close to it you can see the water rush and so it’s I feel like there’s someone always engaging and doing something like from six o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock at night, and even beyond, you know, you see kids getting back from games at midnight and things and so I think there’s just something always going on.” 

McCann’s personality and character traits have a large impact on who he is as a principal to high school students.

“Dr. McCann is calm, he is patient, and he is thorough,” said assistant principal Mike Dial, Ed.D. 

McCann has known Dial for years now, from things such as district-wide principal meetings, yet his newer colleagues describe him similarly.

Assistant principal Jackie Gosney said, “I think he’s pretty even-keeled, doesn’t seem like he gets flustered, very much. And he is personable.” 

McCann enjoys learning about new people and hearing about the life experience that got them where they are today.

“I am a curious person. I still try to, you know, learn new things. I like learning people’s stories.”

McCann has background teaching and exploring overseas.

“I taught English in Japan for about three and a half years, which was fun,” McCann said, “I was in a couple of different cities in Tokorozawa, and then another called Edema, which we’re both kind of west of Tokyo. I had the chance to travel there and travel around Asia for three or four years.”

McCann gained new skills when in an unknown place with people he didn’t know.

“It’s a good experience to be kind of like a stranger in a strange land right, so when I first got there I didn’t speak the language,” said McCann. I looked different than everybody else and so it’s kind of, I think it’s a good thing. I wish everybody could have that experience because I think it helps to kind of create some empathy for people that might be in different situations because I don’t think I had much empathy for things before that.” 

With a new leader, changes can be expected including more recognition to outstanding students.

“We kind of started today and this week is with our Outstanding Oakies and, you know, rewarding some kids for doing that because I think when you have a school of almost 1,700 kids, you’re going to see a lot of really fantastic things going on so I think we have to look for ways to recognize those kids that’s going to be a big impetus,” said McCann.