Continuing the Carmel Tradition

Dr. Tom Harmas takes over as Carmel High School Principal

Writer  /  Josh Lowe
Photographer  /  Brian Brosmer

The bell was ringing to start American History class, and Mrs. Dilley was approaching the desk of Tom Harmas with an interesting proposal. She knew that Tom had a passion for American History, and she wanted to see that passion grow.

“You need to be in honors US History,” she told him.

Dr. Tom Harmas, new principal at Carmel High School, recalls Mrs. Dilley’s kindness as the beginning of what would be a long and successful career in education.

“She was the first person that I was aware of that truly believed in me and what I could do,” he says.

Throughout his school years, Dr. Harmas encountered many teachers and coaches who were a source of inspiration. “They taught lessons of teamwork,” he says. “I’ve taken that through my entire career.”

After attending IU, Dr. Harmas became a history teacher and coached golf and football at Indian Creek High School.

“I didn’t teach history, I taught kids,” Dr. Harmas says. “What we do every day, the only reason we do it is because of
the students.”

He enjoys the memories of supporting students in times of success and failure.

Years into his career, his principal came to his classroom with a brochure for an educational leadership program at Butler. Dr. Harmas recalls her words, “You’re a leader, and it’s time to go.”

From there, he continue, serving as assistant principal at Tipton High School and Avon High School, eventually becoming principal at Mt. Vernon Middle School. For the past 14 years, Dr. Harmas led Creekside Middle School since its opening.

During his time at Creekside, Dr. Harmas saw his share of bright moments. Creekside was named a National Blue Ribbon School and was instrumental in training more than 1,000 teachers in best practices for students on the Autism spectrum.

“We never do this by ourselves,” Dr. Harmas says. “It’s always going to be a collaborative team.” 

When John Williams announced his retirement from Carmel High School, the search began for a new principal. Soon, Dr. Harmas found himself reading a leadership profile — what Carmel High School was looking for in its next leader. In that moment, he realized that the attributes he had been working toward for more than 30 years fit the need, and he was ready to submit his application. Dr. Harmas began his new position on July 1. 

Dr. Harmas now leads a bustling school of more than 5,000 students and anticipates observing, listening and asking questions. He notes that the work would be impossible without the guidance and leadership of his administrative team.

“I’m very used to a culture where everyone wanted to get better every day,” he says. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Carmel High School has that culture, too.”

Dr. Harmas looks forward to continuing the tradition of excellence at Carmel High School and seeing the great accomplishments of the teachers and students.

“There are 5,000 opportunities to make connections,” he says. “We’re going to work every day to make this the best place for students. We want to be partners with teachers, with students and with parents. I think that in that partnership, you’ll find the greatness of Carmel.”

As his summer days of meetings and interviews conclude, Dr. Harmas looks forward to golfing, barbequing with family and visiting baseball parks.  In fact, he and his wife Lori recently took a trip to Kansas City to watch the Royals.

“Any vacation is good,” he says. “Any vacation where your phone doesn’t work is better.”

As he readies for the new year, Dr. Harmas recalls how it began with American History and Mrs. Dilley. How he wished he could thank her. How her little nudge pushed him onward into yet another new adventure of continuing the Carmel tradition.

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