Skaneateles Middle School students came back from their winter break to a new face in the principal's office when 6-12 Humanities Coordinator Mike Caraccio became the middle school principal and Middle School Principal Gary Gerst became the full-time director of learning for the school district.
For Gerst, the transition is so far the pinnacle of a career in which he started out teaching at State Street Intermediate School and the middle school for a total of eight years before serving as a curriculum coordinator in the district for four years.
Gerst then became Waterman Primary School in 2012 after a stint in which he left the Skaneateles Central School to serve as an elementary principal in the West Genesee Central School District. In 2014, he came the middle school principal and later took on the role of director of learning as well.
Now, Gerst is the full-time director of learning in a career progression that has taken place almost completely in the hometown of the 1990 Skaneateles High School, who called himself "very, very lucky" to have made his career in the same place where he himself was a student.
"I think the teachers that were here when I was growing up are the teachers that inspired me to go into teaching," he said. "Those are the teachers that inspired you to go into teaching, and then to be able to come back and be here, sometimes you do kind of pinch yourself."
Gerst said working in West Genesee was a great opportunity for him to learn about another district at a much different level, but he also felt fortunate when the chance arose for him to return to Skaneateles.
Now, he has three children of his own who are students in the district.
"It's just really a neat thing," Gerst said. "There's definitely a lot of pride in the district. ... I just feel very lucky that I'm able to do it."
Caraccio, meanwhile, started his role as a humanities coordinator in Skaneateles just at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year after serving as the 11th grade principal in his final year with West Genesee.
He and his wife and their children lived in the Skaneateles community well before he went to work in the school district, but after he got the job as the humanities coordinator, he had hoped it might turn into something more someday.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would happen so soon," Caraccio said.