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Staten Island Tech Principal Has Passion to Lead Alma Mater

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The new principal at a Staten Island High School is getting high marks from his coworkers who just so happen to be his former teachers. NY1's Anthony Pascale filed the following report.

It's considered one of the top high schools in the state. Mark Erlenwein says he's proof that what happens at Staten Island Tech can change lives. Erlenwein was recently named principal of the school he graduated from back in 1992.

"I'm a geek at heart. I can say that to a student the student can say that to me with a smile because we know, there's a wink that comes with that we know what that means we're techies," Erlenwein said.

Erlenwein has worked at the school since 1998. He started as a chemistry teacher before being promoted to assistant principal. He now oversees the school's 1,200 students, urging them all to believe in themselves.

While much has changed at the school, some of the faces have not. Five of Erlenwein's former teachers now work under him, including Russian teacher John Callahan. Callahan says he feels pressure not to disappoint his former student.

"We have a reputation of the type of school we are and you want to maintain that or go above that. But the worst thing you want to do is let this person down especially when he's this caliber of a person," Callahan said.

The city's Department of Education says more than 20 school administrators are now working at their alma maters. Erlenwein says becoming principal never even crossed his mind when he was a student at Staten Island Tech. It was only after he graduated college that he decided education was the field for him.

"His enthusiasm has not changed. The students feel it, the faculty feels it, he is so excited about education and about solving problems," said Janice Moschetta, a teacher at Tech.

Erlenwein says innovation is key. All incoming freshman at Tech use iPads instead of regular text and notebooks. He also believes it's important to lighten things up. Back in December he made it snow in the school's hallways, teaching kids anything's possible. He says if he has his way he won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

"I would love to retire as the principal of Staten Island Tech," Erlenwein said.

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