Mark Karagus likes working at places that were important in his past.
He speaks fondly of 2 career highlights: serving as interim principal at Harding, his high school alma mater, and spending 2 years as baseball coach at Sacred Heart University, where as a student he once captained the team.
But now Dr. Karagus faces a new challenge. After decades at Harding, Sacred Heart — and, more recently, Norwalk and Trinity Catholic High Schools –he’s the interim principal at Staples.
It’s a different setting. Yet it’s not unfamiliar.
In 40 years as a basketball official, Karagus worked plenty of games in the Wrecker gym. He’s been here for other functions too.
“I always admired the respect of students, parents and coaches, and the integrity they brought to the game,” the new interim principal says. “It’s the type of attitude that transcends the school.”
The Bridgeport native adds, “I’m very well versed in Fairfield County schools. Staples has an outstanding reputation throughout the state, and nationally. I’m extremely honored to be selected as part of the learning community here in the 2015-16 school year.”
He decided to be an educator in college, he says, because “you always seek the best career and fit. As a people person, my strongest ties are in schools. Education is a career where a person can make a difference. I enjoy the camaraderie and professionalism of a school environment.”
Karagus likes talking about his stint as Harding’s interim principal. “I was able to instill some of the old traditions, which they really enjoyed,” he recalls. “School colors, songs — the most effective way to succeed is that way.”
He believes he is a good match for Staples. “I’m big on tradition, professionalism and personal integrity,” the administrator says.
In his first 8 days on the job, he’s been impressed by several things: “the widespread academic accomplishments. People love being here. They’re totally committed to Staples. Everyone has been very welcoming.”
As an interim principal, he sees his main role as “continuing the educational, athletic and social environments without missing a beat.” He inherited 2 big initiatives — the 10-year NEASC evaluation, and the introduction of “Bring Your Own Device” technology — and is anxious to see them implemented effectively.
His leadership style, he says, is “instilling confidence in the existing staff. They’ve been here for years. I’ll be a great listener and supporter of projects, because people have placed a lot of work in them. I will help them proceed effectively.”
Though Karagus has retired from active basketball officiating, he still follows high school hoops intently. He also enjoys “dabbling in ’50s and ’60s memorabilia, like music and sports.”
“I’m thrilled at this point in my career to be part of this,” he says in his new office. “I want to have a good year here, and see where we go.”