After 17 years in East Hampton Schools and a year-and-a-half as principal of , Chris Tracey is gearing up for his last few weeks in the district. He Jan. 27, 2012.
"Not that I'm counting," said Tracey. "My last week here, I'm going to be shedding a few tears. I've been in the business 30 years, but this is probably my favorite job ... If I'm having a rough day, I go into the kindergarten and all they do is hug you. It just picks you right up."
Dave Fioriello, who coached with Tracey, said he has been "dedicated to educating the whole child, academically, socially, emotionally, and athletically,"
"Most of all it is important to Chris that a child grows up to become an adult of admirable character. He's instilled these traits into the many students he has taught and coached," Fioriello said.
Tracey, who moved 18 times as a child growing up, said "East Hampton was always home. My grandfather bought a place out here in 1959 and everybody thought he was crazy because it was so isolated."
Tracey's parents relocated here fulltime in 1977 and, after college, he worked at for a year before being offered a teaching position as a K-12 physical education, health teacher, and athletic director and coach on Shelter Island.
After receiving his Master's Degree in Health at Adelphi University and his Professional Diploma at C.W. Post, Tracey became an assistant principal in Springs before moving to East Hampton as athletic director in 1995. During his tenure, he has served as interim high school principal and assistant principal at the .
Tracey's two children graduated ; Shannon in 2003 and Christopher in 2006.
"One of the highlights of my career," he said, "was being able to give both my children their diplomas."
Tracey's physical education background has shaped his administrative approach.
"As a former coach and P.E. teacher, I look at myself as a motivator and I think one of my most important jobs as principal is to pay attention to people and give them a pat on the back and support them," he said. "A good principal is basically a coach."
Gina Kraus, the elementary school assistant principal who will be stepping into the role of principal, also singled out Tracey's motivational skill. "With his coaching background, he has inspired us all to work together as a team." she said.
Since Tracey's arrival at JMMES, enrollment has grown by roughly one hundred students. "I give teachers so much credit for being able to adjust to the change," he said. The staff hasn't been supplmented very much.
Tracey will continue to work in education as a consultant with The American Athletic Institute, a sports consulting firm designed to help athletes and non-athletes tackle issues ranging from drug and alcohol abuse, hazing and sportsmanship, to childhood obesity. He'll travel the country speaking, while he continues to stay in the education realm, which he loves.