Jeff Eben (right) will replace Steve Russo as principal at Gifford. Russo is Unified's Interim Area 1 Superintendent.
Eben is something of a coup for Unified. An award-winning educator, author and speaker, Eben brings impressive credentials to the job (see his motivational talk here). From his website:
Paralyzed at the age of sixteen in a water-skiing accident, he built his life and career from a wheelchair. Jeff Eben’s twenty-five years in education include coaching football and basketball, teaching, and ten years as a principal, culminating in the creation of a National Blue Ribbon high school in the acclaimed Clovis Unified School District.
His story of hope and leadership philosophy of “Feel the Love” has moved audiences and inspired organizations all over the world, including Oxford University in England. In 1998, Jeff was named Fresno County’s Administrator of the Year, and in 2006 was inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in Education. In 2007, he was honored with Fresno State University’s noted Alumni Award for the Kremen School of Education.
Jeff was appointed Deputy Mayor of Fresno in 2007 and currently serves as the CEO of Fresno’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is the proud father of two grown children and resides in the Fresno area.
Eben resigned from Fresno's Convention and Visitor's Bureau Thursday, effective July 16. Here's Unified's press release about Eben:
Jeff Eben is New Gifford Elementary Principal
Eben has 21 years of experience in education and is internationally recognized speaker
On Aug. 2, Gifford Elementary School will welcome new Principal Jeff Eben. Eben will replace Steve Russo who has been Gifford Principal for seven years and will now serve as the Racine Unified School District’s Interim Area 1 Superintendent.
Eben plans to relocate from Fresno, Calif., where he has been an educator for 21 years and most recently spent two years as Deputy Mayor and two years as CEO of the Fresno Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Eben is eager to return to education as a principal at RUSD.
“I am convinced that the school principalship is the best leadership opportunity in any community,” said Eben. “And feel privileged for the opportunity to join the Racine Unified family.”
In Fresno, Eben served as elementary principal for three years and high school principal for seven years in the Clovis Unified School District. He also spent 11 years in the district as teacher, learning director and deputy principal. In 2006, Eben was inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in Education and in 2007, he was honored with Fresno State University’s noted Alumni Award for the Kremen School of Education.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Jeff Eben join our District,” said RUSD Superintendent Dr. Jim Shaw. “His history of leadership success in increasing academic performance growth of students is impressive and I’m confident he’ll be a valuable addition to the Gifford Elementary leadership team.”
In addition to his experience as an educator, Eben has developed a model of school reform called “Feel the Love.” He is an internationally known speaker and lecturer on building culture and has authored three books.
Eben also appears to have a sense of humor. Check out this video he made while running for Mayor of Fresno: