Christopher Gitz, a South High alum, goes back to school as its principal

Janelle Clausen
Dr. Christopher Gitz, who graduated from Great Neck South High School in 1990, officially began serving as its principal on Aug. 1. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Hints of Principal Christopher Gitz’ influences exist all over his office at Great Neck South High School.

The clock of math equations hanging overhead was a gift from his time supervising a math department. Framed posters calling for honor, leadership and courage hang above a bookcase.

About the room, one can find photos of his family and his times as a student at the school, as well as a signed basketball from when he and his team became division champions in 1990.

“It seems like many of the similarities [to then] are the importance of education and high standard of excellence,” Gitz said in an interview. “For me, it’s a unique opportunity to lead the school you went to and I take that very seriously in terms of continuing that tradition of excellence.”

Gitz began his job as South High School principal on Aug. 1, bringing experience from a variety of different schools. Gitz worked as the assistant principal of High School East in the Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Smithtown High School West and as principal of Lindenhurst High School, where he worked since 2014.

But while serving as principal, Gitz said Great Neck was one of the places in his mind.

“When you’re a principal, you look at districts you might want to model your school after,” Gitz said. “Great Neck has always been one of those for me.”

Gitz, who succeeds Susan Elliot as principal, said he aims to grow the programs and extracurricular activities that appeal to a diverse range of interests. Among them are the performing and fine arts program, robotics, the athletics team and the academic curriculum in general.

“I think going forward, my goal is really to foster some of these successful programs and continue the growth of our school,” Gitz said.

His career in education began in 1996, when he worked as a math teacher at Valley Stream North High School, before going to Harborfields High School in Greenlawn. He later became the K-12 supervisor of mathematics in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District.

“What drives my decision-making process is to always do what’s right for students. I try to put myself in the mindset of a student, but also as a teacher,” Gitz said. “If I make a certain decision, how will it impact the teachers, what might be some of their feelings about the decision? It comes into play a lot in my decision-making.”

Gitz said these experiences play an important role in what he does. But his experience as father of two twin daughters and a son profoundly affected him too.

“My experience since my children were born, is I look at every student in such a way they could be my student, my son, my daughter, and what kind of experience would I want to have my son or daughter to have when they come to school,” Gitz said.

Ultimately, Gitz said he intends to learn about his colleagues, the new landscape and listen to each of the stakeholders – parents, teachers, students or colleagues – when taking action.

“I think it’s important to approach new opportunities with an open mind and that you want to try and hit the ground learning,” Gitz said. “In my case it’s going to be hit the ground learning and hit the ground leading as well.”

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