By Ann Marie Shambaugh
For weeks, Creekside Middle School Principal Thomas Harmas was hiding a big secret.
Now, he can finally share the big news. On June 12, Carmel Clay Schools Supt. Nicholas Wahl announced at the school board meeting that Harmas had been selected as the next principal of Carmel High School.
Harmas is eager to begin his new role July 1, replacing retiring Principal John Williams, who led CHS for 14 years.
“What’s even more exciting is I can actually say something to somebody,” Harmas said after the official announcement. “I know my wife has been dying, because we haven’t been able to say a word to anybody, and that’s the way it needed to be. But now I’m just really thrilled about the appointment. I’m really thrilled about getting started at Carmel High School.”
Harmas, 56, has been principal at Creekside Middle School since it opened in 2004. Before that, he taught social studies and history and served as a principal at Mt. Vernon Middle School and as an assistant principal at Tipton High School.
Wahl said he met with community stakeholders to develop a leadership profile for the next CHS principal, and the targeted search led to candidates both inside and outside of CCS.
“It’s very exciting to have someone of your own that is capable and not only impassioned for Carmel High School but for the Carmel Clay community,” Wahl said as he introduced Harmas to the school board.
Harmas’ first order of business will reflect what his 5,000 students often do in the classroom: listen and learn. He’s already put together an extensive list of people to meet who can help him understand the culture of CHS.
“My job is to understand what a wonderful place Carmel High School is,” he said. “I have to understand what really makes Carmel High School tick, and to do that I have to be willing to listen and not talk, which is unusual for me if you know me.”
Harmas said he’s not intimidated by the fact that CHS is the biggest high school in the state. He oversaw the growth of Creekside Middle School from 800 to 1,600 students, and he’s taken to heart some advice from his predecessor.
“He said when (students) walk into the classroom there’s only 25 to 30 kids with a teacher, and that’s what we’re all about,” Harmas said. “Even though we’re a big school and we have 5,000 kids, it’s still about the individual student and not the masses.”
Harmas grew up in Indianapolis, graduating from Warren Central High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science and masters degree in secondary education at Indiana University and received an educational administration degree from Butler University. He earned an education specialist degree from Indiana State University and a doctorate degree from Oakland City University.
At the meeting, Wahl also named Lila Jay as the principal of Smoky Row Elementary. She previously served as principal at Carmel Middle School for seven years. She replaces Kim Barrett, who will retire at the end of June. CCS has already begun the process of searching for new principals for Creekside and Carmel middle schools.