Lake Shore superintendent retiring at end of year

High school principal appointed as successor

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 9, 2016

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — After eight years at the helm of Lake Shore Public Schools, Superintendent Chris Loria has announced that he will retire at the end of the fiscal year.

“I’m going to miss the kids, absolutely,” he said. “Because I’m one of those hands-on superintendents — I can go down the hallway in the high school and I’ll get two or three hugs.

“That’s the stuff I’m going to miss. All the other pressures of the job, not so much.”

Loria started out in electrical engineering and changed to the field of teaching about two decades ago. He began his teaching career in L’Anse Creuse Public Schools and then moved to Algonac Schools before starting at Kennedy Middle School as an assistant principal. He also served as principal at Masonic Heights Elementary before serving as superintendent.

The Lake Shore Board of Education appointed his replacement, Lake Shore High School Principal Joe DiPonio, to begin as superintendent July 1.

DiPonio taught and served as an assistant principal and principal in Kansas before coming to Lake Shore in 2011 as principal of North Lake High School. He was principal of Kennedy Middle School in 2012 and has been principal of Lake Shore High School for the last four years.

DiPonio said it has been his goal to become a superintendent at some point in his career, and he is grateful for the opportunity, as well as the mentoring he has received from Loria.

“Lake Shore has always been a great fit,” he said. “I’ve had ongoing discussions with Mr. Loria over the past year or two about what my career aspirations are.”

He said he is humbled by the fact that the board chose him for the position without looking outside of the district.

“There was always a discussion about an appointment versus the job being posted, and it was really humbling to think that they have that much confidence in me,” he said. 

DiPonio said he will not be “rushing into any significant changes,” and that the biggest issue facing the district right now is getting the support of the voters for the bond issue on the May 3 ballot. Lake Shore has also reopened wage negotiations with its teaching union, as it is in the third year of a four-year contract, and he said he hopes the district can provide the best it is able for the teachers who have sacrificed for the good of the district.

“Now that it seems like the state’s going to be providing a little extra money, our enrollment’s in a good situation ... see if we can’t get back to where we were back before they took a pay cut,” he said. 

DiPonio said the top priority, of course, is continuing to make sure the schools in the district are ones they can be proud of.

“From a kid’s perspective, are we making learning relevant to them, are we making the coursework relevant and the content that they experience valuable to them so, as we move into the 21st century, that we’re preparing them for what’s to come and not what’s already occurred,” he said. 

Loria said he feels he’s leaving the district in good hands and announced his retirement in February to have time to help DiPonio transition into his new role.

After his retirement, effective June 30, Loria said he hopes to do some traveling, improve his golf game, learn to play piano, and also continue work with two community groups he is heavily involved with: Bravo Programs of America, a charity Loria helped found that helps children ages 18-23 after they age out of the foster care system, and Big Families of Michigan, which also supports children in foster care or being raised by their grandparents; Loria is on the board.

He lives in Sterling Heights with his wife, Elizabeth, and has one daughter, who will graduate this spring from Grand Valley State University and will be married in December. He said he hopes to continue working behind the scenes of Lake Shore, however, making a difference for kids.

“Once a Shorian, always a Shorian, and always a Shorian I shall be,” Loria said. “I love making connections and building experiences for kids that are real-world applications. I’d like to continue to do that.”

DiPonio is married to Tammy, an elementary school principal in Troy, and lives in Bloomfield Hills with his three children, ages 16, 14 and 12.

“I’m a firm believer that all of our kids have a particular genius, and if we put them in the right environment, they’re going to flourish,” he said. “There’s value in all of what our kids have — it’s just a matter of finding that right niche for them and providing them with enough opportunities and experience so that when they graduate high school, they’re on the path to a successful life.

“Our schools are more than ready to provide that experience for our kids so they’re going to make us proud.”