We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

Eric Irizarry

June 20, 2018

With every challenge he has faced as an educator, Eric Irizarry ’02, ’09M, ’14Ed.D. has been able to draw on something he learned while earning three degrees at UNCW. He said he is particularly grateful to the many faculty members who supported and encouraged him throughout his education and beyond.

“What sets UNCW apart from other universities is the approach and dedication of the professors,” said Irizarry, who just completed his second year as principal of Charlottesville High School in Virginia. “Throughout my undergraduate and graduate programs, I could count on the accessibility and support of my professors and the Watson College of Education, as well as opportunities to follow my passions beyond the classroom walls.”

The Swansboro native chose UNCW based on its exercise science and education programs. Hired by the New Hanover County Schools after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, Irizarry decided to pursue a career in school administration. He received the N.C. Principal Fellows Scholarship to earn his master’s and doctorate at UNCW.

During the master’s program, he worked with WCE Distinguished Professor of Education Martin Kozloff and John Rice, associate professor of sociology, to help open an after-school reading program in the Hillcrest public housing complex in Wilmington. His Ed.D. program included study opportunities in Japan and Belize, as well as publishing a scholarly article with WCE faculty member William Sterrett.

As a principal, Irizarry worked closely with WCE faculty members Sterrett and Donyell Roseboro (now associate dean for teacher education and outreach) to open D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, where he served as principal from 2012-16. Beginning in fall 2018, UNCW will operate Virgo as a laboratory school in partnership with the New Hanover County Schools.

His experience at Virgo and as principal of a Brunswick County charter school reinforced concepts he learned at UNCW, including how to enlist and cultivate leaders within the teaching staff and how to exhibit support for teachers. “You can’t get it done alone as a principal,” he said. “Combined, all these experiences prepared me to take on many challenges, including the opportunity to lead one of the best schools in Virginia, Charlottesville High School.”

Married with two young sons, Irizarry said he and his family enjoy spending time outdoors, hiking in the Virginia mountains. “We went from one beautiful location to another,” he said. “We keep our ties with Wilmington by visiting the beach there as often as possible.”

-- Tricia Vance