AHS teacher takes over as principal
– Bill Neely has worked for Atascadero Unified School District since 1992 when he was hired as a biology teacher at Atascadero High School. On July 1, he will take over as principal of the high school after E.J. Rossi was promoted to assistant superintendent of educational services.
Except for the 2014-15 school year, when Neely served as prevention coordinator at Santa Rosa Academic Academy, and one quarter in fall 1992 teaching at Paso Robles High School, his entire teaching career has been at the high school.
Neely graduated from Atascadero High School in 1977 and went on to Cal Poly, where he earned his first bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture. He then worked as a landscape contractor in the Bay Area for about 12 years, then returned to the Central Coast and continued that line of work for another six years.
It was after he married his high school sweetheart, Jeanne Mulder, that he decided to change things up. “I always to be a biology teacher or a park ranger, since I graduated Atascadero High School,” he said. “I thought for sure I wanted to teach [at the] secondary [level].”
So he went back to school and got his second bachelor’s degree in biology and then his teaching credentials. He did his student teaching at Atascadero High School and was hired part-time at Paso Robles High School for the first quarter of the 1992-93 school year until he was hired by Atascadero.
Over the years, he said, he never thought of moving out of the school district because he was pretty invested in what was going on at the high school. Over the last 23 years, Neely has taught biology and math, advanced placement biology, served as activities director, leadership advisor, science department chair, member of the school site council, coached a variety of levels of basketball and more.
The Neelys have two sons, Robert and Samuel. Robert graduated from high school in 2008 and Samuel in 2014.
“My youngest son graduated in 2014 – when he graduated, I realized maybe I wanted to move into administration,” Neely said, adding that he his experience working at the elementary level has prepared him to lead at the high school level.
“I feel a great sense of duty as I take the position of principal of AHS,” Neely said. “Although I was born in California, I was a transplant from Columbus, Ohio, as a sophomore in high school. Atascadero is my home and I have always been very proud of that. I hope my service honors the students at the high school, the staff and the community. I am very excited and humbled to have this opportunity.”