St. Joseph High School president John Gilley

St. Joseph High School president John Gilley talks with sophomore Dugan Chandler, 15, during a break between classes.

There’s no question about it – John Gilley loves St. Joseph High School.

Gilley started his new position as the school’s president on May 1, but he had served in different positions when it came to the school.

“It’s been awesome to be walking the halls in the school and directly impacting our faculty and staff and our students,” he said. “To see your direct efforts affect the school you care about so much is very rewarding.”

Gilley graduated from St. Joseph, a Catholic school, in 2003 and attended Texas State University where he focused on finance. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, he returned to Victoria and worked at First Victoria National Bank, now Prosperity Bank.

St. Joseph High School president John Gilley

John Gilley talks with senior Jacoby Robinson, 17, one of school's football players, during a break between classes.

Gilley said he knew after graduating from college, he wanted to move back to Victoria and give back to the community. St. Joseph was that outlet.

Before being named president, Gilley was the St. Joseph board of directors chairman and had been on the board as a member for about five years. During that time, he volunteered with the football team at his alma mater.

“I really enjoyed giving back that way,” he said

He said he enjoyed the banking world, but he looks forward to applying those skills to the education world.

Leaving his career and the relationships he made was difficult, but it was an easy decision to invest his efforts into education, Gilley said. He resigned from the school’s board of directors and applied for the position.

“My love for this school was a big proponent. I have a lot of fond memories here,” he said. “What we do here as a faculty and staff and administration creates a ripple effect through our community, the state and the nation. Just like every school does. The education process is so important.”

St. Joseph High School president John Gilley

John Gilley shakes the hand of senior Jacoby Robinson, 17, during a break between classes. He often comes out to interact with students during one of their snack breaks.

Gilley started his new position at the end of the academic year, which gave him the summer to get his bearings before students returned in the fall.

“You really pull back the curtain and see the wizard,” he said.

Gilley said as president, he wants to focus on increasing enrollment rates at St. Joseph while maintaining a quality education for Victoria’s youth. Along with that, he wants to build relationships with the feeder schools such as Nazareth Academy, Our Lady of Victory and even the Victoria public school system.

Mike Cavazos, board of directors chairman, said as a 1976 St. Joseph alumnus, it is great to see another alum sitting in the president’s seat.

“When we were looking for someone to take the president’s role, John came to the forefront,” Cavazos said. “I saw in John a lot of investment in the school.”

Cavazos said Gilley has a maturity and integrity that will help him make connections with feeder schools and further build those relationships.

“It’s easy to take John to a different level because of what he brings to the table,” he said.

Gilley, coming from a finance background, can focus on the big picture of the school and implement changes to prepare students for their futures, Cavazos said.

“He’s concerned about all our students and getting them prepared for higher education,” he said. “We want to prepare them for that type of education.”

Buddy Billups, St. Joseph’s board of directors member and finance committee chairman, has known Gilley since he was 5 years old. Gilley attended school with Billups’ son.

“Like our entire board, I am very excited about the potential for St. Joe under John’s leadership,” Billups said.

He said Gilley has the right combination of skills to take St. Joseph to the next level. Gilley brings potential to the school, but he is young enough to stay attuned to the students.

Gilley is a fourth-generation St. Joseph graduate and knows the local market, Billups said.

“He just had it all,” he said. “It was a great combination.”

Samantha Douty is the education reporter at the Victoria Advocate. She grew up in Corpus Christi and graduated from UT-Arlington with a bachelor's in journalism.

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