New principal likes approach at St. Tars


The student-centered approach to learning at Saint Tarcissus School is among the among the main reasons why new principal Michael Johnson says he was attracted to the job.

Johnson, age 40, said that when he went to school, teachers lectured and students were expected to recite that information on tests. He said that in teachers still play a crucial role in developing and guiding children but that now there is a greater emphasis on students learning on their own as part of a group project or discussion.

"They have a very strong approach to student education (at Saint Tarcissus)," Johnson, who previously served as an assistant principal at two public schools in Joliet, said. "Our goal is to continually to develop students" and "to position them to be strong leaders, grounded in their faith,"

Johnson said that Saint Tarcissus also offers programs to address the varying needs of students, including those with learning, emotional and physical disabilities.

Saint Tarcissus is Johnson’s first job on the Northwest Side. He began his career as an English teacher, and he spent 7 years as principal of Saint Christopher School in Midlothian. He is a graduate of Saint Christopher.

Johnson and his wife, Eileen, have three daughters, and they live in Oak Lawn.

Johnson said that the parents, teachers and students at Saint Tarcissus have been very welcoming since he arrived about a month ago. "It’s got a definite community atmosphere, a close family feel," he said.

Saint Tarcissus, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave., has an enrollment of about 300 students.

Johnson replaces Roy Hecker, who worked at Saint Tarcissus as a teacher for 18 years and as the school’s principal for 9 years. Hecker now is the principal of Pope John XXIII School in Evanston.