Jacob Greenwood graded his students' work while they took their final exams to end another year at Ridgefield High School. But Greenwood, a biology teacher and science department chairman, was also preparing for something significant. He was finishing his 13th and final year in Ridgefield after he was appointed the new assistant principal of Darien High School by the Board of Education and Superintendent Stephen Falcone last week.

Starting July 2, Greenwood will transition into his new role throughout the summer.

"Largely, I think the entire summer is going to be spent acclimating to the physical surroundings," Greenwood said, noting there will be practical and philosophical adjustments.

"That's what I'm most interested in, understanding the philosophy and the mission of the school," he said.

Greenwood said he has had opportunities to observe and work with Darien schools throughout the years, looking at statistics, courses and implementing new programs as science department chairman. He said he also spent some time getting to know Darien's school administration.

"Everybody's definitely student-centered and focused on student achievement, progress and wanting to be a part of the team," he said.

This was evident to Falcone when he recommended Greenwood for the job.

"I think that he is people-oriented and will work really well with our students and faculty," Falcone said. "He's got great energy for the work that he does, and working with young people."

Greenwood said it didn't take him long to realize, after receiving his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of New Hampshire, he wanted to teach the subject.

"I took a position at a bio-tech firm and worked there one week and decided it wasn't for me," Greenwood said of his time after college, saying he took a year off after graduating in 1997. During that time, substitute teaching inspired him to pursue a master of science degree in teaching and learning.

"I was fairly fortunate because I went to the University of (Southern) Maine, where they had a full-year internship," he said.

Greenwood spent his first year of graduate school teaching biology at Gorham High School in Gorham, Maine. He started teaching biology in Ridgefield in 1999.

"When I took the job here in Ridgefield, I think I was in a fairly small percentage of young teachers," he said.

Teaching wasn't his only role in Ridgefield, however; Greenwood spent some time as dean of students. Although he worked closely with people involved in student discipline, such as guidance counselors, administration and parents, Greenwood said he still worked with students.

"When I took on this job, this role as a dean of students, it let me see students in a way I'd never seen them before," he said. "I guess, ultimately, students don't want to get in trouble."

Greenwood said the experience motivated him to get his doctorate in educational leadership at Western Connecticut State University. But after receiving his doctorate in 2010, he didn't require students to call him "Dr. Greenwood."

"We have such great kids," he said. "They're the kind of kids who would do that no matter what you said."

One of Greenwood's favorite memories of his time at Ridgefield High School is coaching the boys' junior varsity soccer team.

"When I came in my first year, I started as the freshman coach and just stuck with the program," he said. "I enjoyed seeing the kids outside of the classroom."

Greenwood played varsity soccer when he was in high school and continued to play in college. It was only natural for him to stay involved with the sport at Ridgefield.

"The only thing that stopped me from coaching is my own kids," he said. "I have three of my own kids."

Greenwood's children are 7 and 4 years old, and 6 months old. He said they have helped shape his view and broadened his perspective of kids in the classroom.

Greenwood got back into the classroom as a teacher when he became the science department chairman, where he taught a college preparatory biology course and advanced placement biology.

When Greenwood comes to Darien, he won't be teaching classes.

"Obviously that's going to be tough because I'm used to that role," he said, adding that he will miss working in Ridgefield.

"It's tough," he said. "This is the only job I've ever had, and leaving the only home I've ever had is going to be difficult."

Greenwood attended the science symposium at DHS in May.

"I did get a flavor for how the building runs," he said. "So I would say I'm comfortable as you could be when you move from one community to the other."

While he was at the symposium, however, Greenwood said meeting some of the teachers he will be working with gave him some more comfort before he comes to Darien.

"I really feel like I'm going from good to great," he said.

tmichael@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4407; www.twitter.com/tmichael89

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