Gilroy Unified names two new principals

Dirks at Christopher; Wells-Southland at Rucker

Jeremy Dirks

Gilroy native Jeremy Dirks was promoted from vice principal at South Valley Middle School to principal at Christopher High School for the 2018-19 school year, according to a July 6 press release.

Dirks, who spent three years as assistant principal for San Benito High School prior to joining South Valley’s staff last school year, will be officially appointed Aug. 9 at the next Gilroy Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting.

Before becoming an administrator, Dirks was a social studies teacher at Gilroy High School for 10 years, also serving as varsity basketball coach and activities director on campus.

“Having a leader that has served as a successful high school classroom teacher, activities director, high school assistant principal and coach is a win for everyone at the site,” Gilroy Superintendent Deborah Flores said. “Jeremy’s high school experience is extensive and his track-record is solid. We are thrilled to have him lead the CHS staff and students beginning this school year.”

The 1993 Gilroy High School alumnus, who now lives in Hollister with his wife and two children, earned his bachelor’s degree in social science from San Jose State University in 2002; teaching credential from Chapman University; and master’s in Educational Leadership and Administration from Brandman University in 2013.

“I am extremely excited to be joining the Christopher High School staff and community,” Dirks said. “I believe that the CHS staff are dedicated to doing what is best for all students, and I am honored to be a part of the CHS team.”

New Rucker Elementary School principal

Jean Wells-Southland

Jean Wells-Southland was appointed as principal at Rucker Elementary School, according to the district’s July 5 press release.

Wells-Southland previously worked at Rucker as an administrator after serving as a literacy facilitator there from 2015 to 2018. Prior to her tenure with Gilroy Unified, she worked for Partners in School Innovation; was the principal at Silicon Valley Flex Academy from 2011 to 2014; and taught primary grades in neighboring Morgan Hill Unified School District, at Nordstrom Elementary and the Charter School of Morgan Hill from 2001 to 2011.

“From my first days at Rucker several years ago, I knew that it was a special place to work,” said Wells-Southland. “I am looking forward to working with the Rucker community to build connections and strengthen our student outcomes for learning and social emotional growth.”

Wells-Southland and her husband have been Morgan Hill residents for 22 years and have three adult children and a grandchild.

“She is an established leader in the Rucker community and has a wide array of professional experience as a classroom teacher, private sector consultant and administrator throughout her career,” said Flores of Rutger’s new site leader. “I know she will hit the ground running to maintain the high level of academic rigor that is currently in place at Rucker.”