The vote confirming James Bridges as superintendent was followed by a standing ovation from more than 40 audience members in attendance.
Bridges has been Jefferson’s principal for 11 years and was also a teacher at the school for two years.
He told the crowd he felt lucky to be hired by the district as a substitute teacher 18 years ago.
“I wanted to affect the lives of as many children as possible,” he said. “I look forward to great things as we move forward over the next 20 years.”
The president of the board, Deborah Wingo, said Bridges accepted the job offer after his interview last week and Tuesday’s vote was a “formal action.”
“I’m sad to see Dana (Eaton) leave and happy to welcome somebody where this has been his home,” Wingo said.
She admonished Bridges to take good care of the district and said the board would “expect nothing but the best.”
Bridges replaces Dana Eaton, who told the district in mid-May that he is stepping down to become superintendent of the Brentwood Union School District.
Eaton’s last day was Wednesday, June 19.
Bridges is slated to begin July 1.
Jill Lange, a teacher at Hawkins Elementary School, said she attended the meeting to show support for Bridges.
“He was teaching at Jefferson with me,” she said. “He definitely knows our district, teachers and community; he’ll definitely step up to the plate.”
Bridges was one of five candidates interviewed by trustees, according to Wingo. His “commitment and passion” for the district made him the top choice, she said.
“He’s been in the district a long time,” Wingo said. “He understands the culture and traditions of the district.”
Leadership Associates, of La Quinta, conducted the hiring search. The company also helped in the recent hiring of a superintendent for the Lammersville Unified School District.
Eaton, a resident of Brentwood, said his new position allows him more time with his 8-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, who are students in that district.
“It was a tough decision,” he said. “Jefferson feels like a second family to me. Four years ago, they welcomed me in with welcomed arms. I’ll miss it a lot.”
Wingo said she understood Eaton’s decision to leave.
“Dana is a great guy,” she said. “He is a fantastic leader, and I’m very sorry to be losing him. I’m happy for him personally — next step in his career — but it’s a loss for Jefferson and we’ll definitely miss him.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.