Larry Ljungberg says he has a "strong level of excitement" when he thinks about returning to the place where his career began. Ljunberg will be back in the high school arena Aug. 20 as the new principal of John F. Kennedy High School in the Cheektowaga-Sloan Union Free School District.
Ljungberg's career began as a high school teacher of science and Advanced Placement courses in biology and chemistry in the Pioneer School District. But he has spent the last six years as the principal of Global Concepts Charter School in Lackawanna and the three before that as an assistant principal with the Niagara-Wheatfield School District.
"I am excited to get back into the traditional school system," Ljungberg said during Tuesday's School Board meeting. "I grew up in this area and went to superintendent leadership school with Mr. Bovino," he said, referring to Stephen Bovino, JFK's former principal.
A former businessman, Ljungberg believes both his personal and professional side will give him a well-rounded approach to academics.
"I think there will be a strong continuity here," the new principal said. "Our leadership styles are very similar. He [Bovino] had a strong focus on student achievement and that is really my forte. I want to focus on getting them to the next level."
A mastery of learning, such as having more students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, is something the district has been striving toward achieving, according to School Board President Claire Ferrucci.
"We are very thrilled to have him with us," Ferrucci said. "We feel he is really going to be a right fit."
As a father and educator, Ljungberg says today's kids are faced with challenges that are unique in a rapidly advancing society. Parents, he says, need to be attuned to their children if they want them to keep up.
"Our society is constantly changing, and our kids are being bombarded with information through television and the Internet, and we [parents] are not there to help them," he said. "It is not OK anymore to just do OK. We have to raise the level of expectation. This world has gone global, and it is getting very competitive."
Ljungberg lives in East Aurora with his wife and four children.