There is a new assistant principal at George Washington Middle School in Lyons, the school serving sixth- through eighth-grade students from Lyons, Stickney, Forest View, McCook and the southeast quarter of Brookfield.

On Oct. 23, the Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103 Board of Education voted 5 to 0 to appoint physical education teacher James Leahy to the position of interim assistant principal for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year.

Leahy replaces Anthony DeFeo, who resigned in early October to become the principal of Thompson Junior High School in Oswego. The position at Thompson opened when the principal there was appointed head of junior high education for Oswego School District 308.

GWMS has two assistant principals. Cathy Eichhammer remains as the school’s other assistant principal. Leahy has taught physical education at GWMS for 15 years.

“He knows the school [and] has great relationships with the students and the parents, so I think it’s going to be naturally a good fit for him,” said GWMS Principal Christopher Cybulski. 

Superintendent Carol Baker said that it was important to replace DeFeo quickly. 

The decision was made to appoint an interim assistant principal and do a more thorough search in the spring.

“I think this was a nice option,” Baker said. “Considering the time of the year, this gets us somebody in place quickly that knows the students, knows the staff [and] can just start working immediately.”

Leahy graduated from Midland University in Nebraska and earned his administrative certification from Concordia University. 

“I’m excited for the new role and the challenges that come with it,” said Leahy, who will be paid $75,000 this year.

Leahy, who said he had been looking for a chance to move into administration, is likely to apply for the permanent position in the spring, but wants to see how he likes the new job. 

“It’s a little early to say, but I would expect that I would apply, but I don’t know where this will lead me,” Leahy said.

DeFeo, who had just started his third year at GWMS, will be missed, Cybulski said. DeFeo was certified in special education and led the school’s special education department.

“He built many positive relationships with students and staff, Cybulski said. “He was a leader for our special education department and did a phenomenal job, in my opinion, in handling relationships with students in difficult times.”

In addition to leading the school’s special education department, DeFeo was responsible for running athletics and extracurricular activities for the school, duties that Leahy now assumes.

While it is unusual for an administrator to move to a different district during the school year, Baker and Cybulski said that they did not wish to stand in the way of DeFeo advancing his career.

“I’m very happy for him,” Cybulski said. “It’s a promotion for him. He moved into a principal role.”