The first task Christopher Adamo always sets for himself, as an educator, is learning all his students’ names within two weeks. This year, as the new principal at St. Thomas the Apostle School in Elkhart, he promised himself would learn all 240 names by Friday, Sept. 15 — with a little help from the 2016-17 yearbook. The feat is even more impressive because Adamo began the year as a social studies teacher at Penn High School, where he had 180 names to learn.
Adamo, wife Erin and 18-month-old daughter Eveline live in Granger, but he grew up in Osceola and went through religious education classes at St. Joseph Parish, Mishawaka. Except for two years at Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, he’s usually attended and worked in public schools; but he’s thrilled now to be in a setting where he can help every student grow in mind, body and spirit.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in history at Ball State University, Adamo got his teaching license and master’s degree in education and curriculum at Bethel College. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in educational leadership at Purdue, where much of his course work is done online. He taught junior high and high school in the Penn-Harris-Madison system for 10 years, and in his spare time he’s interested in “everything under the sun.” That includes hockey, snowboarding and cooking — especially spaghetti sauce, reflecting his Italian background.
Although he wanted a career in educational administration, that didn’t seem to be happening. Late this summer Adamo expressed his frustration to Father Chris Lapp, who encour aged him to keep praying on it. Before he even finished filling out the application for the position of principal at St. Thomas, Father Jason Freiburger called him in for an interview. The job offer came the day before he was supposed to start teaching at Penn, but Adamo’s integrity wouldn’t let him leave them in the lurch, so he didn’t begin at St. Thomas until Aug. 31.
“I’m very excited to be in this new role. Clearly God has a hand in everything we do, even if we can’t see it at the time,” testifies Adamo, who’s now 35. “The older I get, the more clearly I can see God’s invisible hand looking out for me. This path was laid out for me before I was born, and everything is part of God’s good plan.”
Adamo calls St. Thomas a “great school, where we are blessed with fine technology and other resources. There’s a strong PTO and sense of community. Families are very involved in supporting their students.” Many of the current students in preschool through eighth grade are second- and third-generation. “It’s great hearing stories about how things used to be. Maybe we’ll be able to repeat something from the past, a program or the theme for a social event.”
Besides building positive, meaningful relationships among present students and staff, the new principal would like everyone in Elkhart County to know about St. Thomas and consider sending their children there. He hopes to visit preschools and hold school open houses, and a new Twitter account is spearheading a stronger online presence for the school. Under the hashtag #STSExcellence, parents and teachers can showcase the wonderful things their students are doing.
Adamo plans to maintain the strong academic program and high standard that has been set. He’d like to see St. Thomas not only maintain its “A” rating but also be recognized as a Blue Ribbon school, which is both excellent and Christ-centered.
Students can go to any school to “do things;” but only in a school like St. Thomas can they grow as compassionate advocates for their faith.
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