With Carmel High School Principal Tom Harmas officially retiring on June 30, he is confident the campus will be in good hands.
After all, this isn’t the first time he’s been replaced by Tim Phares, who became headmaster of Creekside Middle School when Harmas left to lead CHS in 2017.
“It feels good to leave Carmel High School in the hands of someone who is a good person and a fantastic educator,” Harmas said. “I’m very confident, just like I did with Creekside, that Carmel High School will continue to move forward, grow and meet the needs of the kids because Tim will make sure of that.”
Harmas said he knew since taking the CHS job that this would be his last school year, as his son is in his class. He’s also ready to transition from a work week that’s typically 60-80 hours to a lifestyle that allows time for travel, including every Major League Baseball field in the country.
“As you get older, you slow down a bit,” Harmas said. “I want to make sure I leave when I can do the job and I like the job and don’t get to a point where I can’t do the job the way I think it needs to be done. Right now is the right time for that.
Harmas, 61, worked at schools in Avon, Tipton and Mt. Vernon before opening Creekside in 2004. He said opening Creekside and helping launch him into the high-performing school that it has become part of his career highlights, along with his prioritization that teachers ensure students have the tools they need to succeed at CHS.
He said the past few years have been particularly difficult for educators, but that didn’t factor into his decision to retire.
“Anyone would be lying if they didn’t say the last three years have been very, very tough, but they’ve been tough for everyone,” Harmas said. “Looking at what we were able to do and how we got through it really gives me hope and energizes me instead of tiring me out.”
Phares, 45, the son of two educators, has spent his entire 22-year career in education at CCS, starting as a kindergarten teacher at Orchard Park Elementary before becoming vice-principal at Prairie Trace Elementary. The longtime Carmel resident served as principal at Orchard Park and Towne Meadow Elementary Schools before moving to Creekside.
While working in various administrative roles, Phares said he considered pursuing a job as a superintendent, but the COVID-19 pandemic gave him time to pause and reflect on his career. He decided he didn’t want to stray too far from day-to-day interaction with students.
“I love being around kids, and that’s where I can have a big impact,” Phares said. “I’m the luckiest guy. I’ve been back and forth, walking this path between Carmel High School and Creekside for the past three weeks, and I’m like, ‘Man, what an opportunity and what a responsibility to be the principal of Carmel High School.’ ‘
He said he’s ready to listen and learn as he adjusts to the culture — and the sheer size of the building — at the CHS.
“My stamp will be on things, but it will take time,” Phares said. “The tradition of excellence through Carmel High School was here before Dr. Harmas, and it will be after me. My goal is to keep pushing it up. »
All four of Phares’ children attend CCS schools and his wife, Renee, is a front office administrator at Carmel Middle School. She previously taught at Forest Dale Elementary and worked at Creekside during Harmas’ tenure there.