Brian Ganan’s engaging personality, as well as his professional qualifications, helped him get the job as the next superintendent at Komarek School District 94 in North Riverside.

On the day the Komarek school board interviewed the two finalists for the job the board hosted a meet and greet where Komarek teachers could meet, and size up, Ganan and the other finalist. 

“After the teachers met both candidates, we also did just kind of a poll just to get their input as far as who they would like and he was overwhelmingly picked by the teachers and that really kind of cemented it for us that he was really the right choice,” said Christopher Waas, the president of the District 94 school board.

Ganan was hired last week as the new superintendent of Komarek School District 94 in North Riverside. He will take over July 1, 2015, replacing Superintendent Neil Pellicci, who is retiring at the end of the 2014-15 school year. 

Ganan has been the director of academic excellence in Riverside Elementary School District 96 since 2013. 

Waas said Ganan’s experience in leading the effort to get District 96 ready for the new Common Core state standards was experience that would be valuable at Komarek. 

“For Komarek we need to move ahead with a couple of state initiatives: Common Core and the state-mandated teacher evaluations, and he has experience working with that in District 96,” Waas said. “And also he has experience with the Riverside-Brookfield [High School] administration and the specific department heads and knows what the expectations are for incoming students.”

The Komarek school board settled on Ganan at its Dec. 9 school board meeting and hammered out the contract details last week.

Ganan started in District 96 at the same time as superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis, who hired him. Sharma-Lewis said that Komarek was fortunate to hire Ganan.

“Dr. Ganan has the vision, skills and energy to be an excellent superintendent,” Sharma-Lewis said in an email. “The Komarek community is fortunate to have such an exceptional educator lead their district. His remarkable knowledge and ability to inspire others will benefit their students, staff and community.”

While Sharma-Lewis has had a rocky relationship with most of the current District 96 school board Ganan has been popular with school board members, teachers and parents. 

“We’re going to miss him,” said District 96 school board member Randy Brockway. “We tried to keep him, but I think it’s just a matter that he really wanted to be a superintendent. He’s been pretty clear with that, for a while.”

Fellow District 96 school board member Art Perry also said that Ganan will be missed.

 “I’m very disappointed for District 96, but I’m extremely happy for him,” Perry said. “I think he’ll do a fine job, and it’s coincidental that he is going to be right across the street, so to speak.”

When she found out that Ganan was thinking taking the new job District 96 school board president, Mary Rose Mangia met with Ganan a couple of times to find out more about it and see if she could get him to stay. 

“We talked about me leaving and kind of why I wanted to leave, and really it’s just because I’m trying to be a superintendent and I told her about Komarek,” Ganan. “She was supportive of me going, because it was a good opportunity for me, she made that very clear, but I think she wanted me to be here.”

Prior to coming to District 96, Ganan was the principal of Juliette Low Elementary School in Arlington Heights for six years. Before that he was an assistant principal at Salt Creek Elementary School in Elk Grove. He began his career as a junior high math and Spanish literacy teacher in Des Plaines.

Ganan holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa, a master’s from DePaul University, and an Ed.D. from Roosevelt University.

Ganan, 39, told the Landmark that he is looking forward to his new position.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the board, working with the staff and the community,” said Ganan, “getting to know the community, being an active member in the community as a whole. Just providing the leadership that the community is looking for.”

Ganan said that his work jump-starting professional development and getting District 96 ready for the Common Core has been his biggest accomplishments in his time at District 96.

“This has been a good experience,” Ganan said.

Ganan signed a three-year contract and will be paid $141,000 in his first year at Komarek. He is earning $123,600 in District 96 this year.