Saint Mary’s School in Breckenridge, Minnesota is under new management. Former principal Linda Johnson retired from the position on June 15 and new principal Tom Haire officially starts August 1.

Johnson has been working with St. Mary’s for 32 years. She was the teacher for 13 years and the principal for 19 years.

Haire has worked with St. Mary’s for roughly seven years as a sixth grade teacher and as a technology coordinator. He previously taught in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he was able to take some administration classes at Northern State University.

He and his family moved back to the Breckenridge area several years ago.

“I loved my sixth grade position, I wasn’t looking to become principal but when Mrs. Johnson announced her retirement, we got to talking a little bit and she expressed that I would be a good fit for a new principal,” Haire said. “And at that point I was like ‘well, I really like my sixth grade teaching position.’ And so, as with a lot of things I said I will think about it, I will pray about it and I suppose it was a month, month and a half later that I just felt that at this time this was … I wanted to step up and take on this position.”

Haire spoke about how as a teacher he mostly saw his classroom and his grade but he didn’t have the chance to see the whole school. He has been supported in this step by his family and parents of the students.

Going into his first year as principal, Haire doesn’t plan to make any major changes.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot that needs to be changed at Saint Mary’s,” he said.

Haire explained that though it will be difficult to come into this position, he is thankful for Mrs. Johnson’s help in answering his questions.

Johnson said that her time as a principal was a “very rewarding experience.”

“It was truly a vocation for me, a calling, a way to serve my church and to help children learn,” she said.

Johnson saw leadership qualities in Haire, she said. She knew that with some mentoring and going back to school for training, he would do well.

“He teaches from the heart and he puts a lot of soul in what he does and that’s part of the mission of our school so that’s a good thing,” Johnson said.

Haire does want to see the school become more oriented towards service and hopes to expand upon the service programs already in place.

“When we look at it being centered on Christ is, the service that Christ provided for the world, all those things, we want to do and instill in our students, in our faculty, in our parents, in our church community,” he said.

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