La Jolla High School Vice Principal Tony Meeks to retire; Preuss School gets new vice principal

La Jolla High School Vice Principal Tony Meeks will retire in December after more than four decades in education.
La Jolla High School Vice Principal Tony Meeks will retire in December after more than four decades in education.

Tony Meeks, one of La Jolla High School’s two vice principals, plans to retire next month, and the school is beginning the search for his replacement.

Meeks, 64, opted to take the San Diego Unified School District’s latest offer of early-retirement packages and is among a districtwide group whose official last day on the job is Thursday, Dec. 31.

La Jolla High’s other vice principal is Cindy Ueckert.

Meeks is “such a beautiful person,” La Jolla High Principal Chuck Podhorsky said. “Such a kind soul. He’s somebody that really encompasses … what you hope you’re remembered for at the end of your career.”

With more than 40 years in education — the past six as vice principal at LJHS — Meeks has “done a lot of great things for kids,” Podhorsky said. “He has great expertise in the area of science and he really helps coordinate our safety program.”

“Kids love him, and he’s a great, kind man,” Podhorsky said. “He’s the kind of guy that people are comfortable talking to and is very relaxed.”

Meeks said he has “mixed emotions about retiring. It was time for me to start a new chapter in my life.”

He said he will miss working for the district, which he called “the most rewarding time in my life.”

LJHS “has a tradition of excellence,” Meeks said. “I’m humbled to have been a part of a great school where education is valued as top priority by students, teachers and parents. I’m confident that there will be a replacement that will continue to have that passion for helping students be successful.”

Meeks said retirement will consist of spending more time with his four children and his mother, traveling and “doing things I didn’t have time to do when I was working — mainly just relaxing.”

He said he thanks members of the LJHS community for their “professionalism, support and encouragement they’ve given me over the years. I will always hold La Jolla High School near and dear to my heart.”

Podhorsky said “people will always think highly” of Meeks.

“You’re always super sad and happy when somebody retires,” Podhorsky said. “You love working with the person, but you also know that they’ve dedicated so much of their time to education that now they get a little more opportunity to spend some time with their own family.”

The selection of Meeks’ replacement involves four steps. The school currently is gathering recommendations from students, staff and parents about criteria for a new vice principal.

The district will then hold an interview day for prospective vice principals to screen candidates according to the criteria selected. In addition to LJHS, three other high schools — Mira Mesa, Scripps Ranch and University City — are seeking new vice principals.

A panel of LJHS teachers, classified staff members, parents and students will participate in interviewing the candidates who pass the screening. The last step will be a final decision by the San Diego Unified superintendent and Board of Education.

LJHS community members are asked to complete a criteria input form ( and indicate their interest in participating on the panel by Thursday, Nov. 19.

The Preuss School names new vice principal

Nelika-Fai Watson has been appointed vice principal of The Preuss School UC San Diego. Her hiring was effective Nov. 9.

The Preuss School is a charter middle and high school on the UCSD campus serving low-income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college. It enrolls more than 800 students in grades six through 12.

Most recently, Watson was director of independent study for two public K-12 charter schools in San Diego County.

“I am thrilled to join The Preuss School at this unprecedented time in history, and I am excited to utilize these unique challenges to identify opportunities to enrich our scholars’ educational experiences,” Watson said in a statement.

Watson began her teaching career as a middle school teacher in Baltimore County. She later taught first grade in Washington, D.C., served as academic coordinator for a nonprofit organization, and developed and implemented programs and curricula with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. She also was an assistant principal in Baltimore.

— La Jolla Light Editor Rob Vardon contributed to this report.