As he prepares to return to Mt. Carmel High School as its new principal, Scott Tabernacki can’t help but think of the all-boys Catholic school’s motto: “You came to Carmel as a boy. If you care to struggle and work at it, you will leave as a man.”
Tabernacki, a Class of 2002 graduate, said that motto had a strong influence on him as a student.
The Whiting, Ind., resident will become the 23rd principal of Mt. Carmel, 6410 S. Dante Ave., on July 1. He and his family have a long history with the school, and he’s excited to lead a new generation of boys on the path of becoming responsible men.
“That’s always really stuck with me,” Tabernacki said of the motto. “They kind of provided me the environment while I was there to really work on myself. … They really taught me to work hard and be proud in everything you did.”
Tabernacki, an East Side native, will succeed John Haggerty, who announced his resignation in January. Haggerty, who has worked at Mt. Carmel for 33 years, will remain on staff as a mentor and advanced-placement English literature teacher.
Tabernacki was principal of St. John the Baptist Elementary School in Whiting for the past five years. He also served as dean of St. Rita High School for one year, and taught and served as a dean at Holy Trinity High School, 1443 W. Division St., during two three-year stints.
He has also been a coach and an athletic director.
Tabernacki has a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and master’s degree in education from Concordia University.
In a news release from the school, Haggerty lauded Tabernacki for his achievements.
“I had the privilege of teaching Scott when he was a Mt. Carmel student and have always respected his career in education,” Haggerty said. “He is an educator and administrator who lives the Caravan values that we instill in our students.”
Tabernacki’s father attended Mt. Carmel, and his mother worked there. His great-uncle was a Carmelite priest.
Tabernacki said he embodies the tradition the school has of multiple generations of students, including many in Beverly/Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood.
He worked at St. Rita alongside “fantastic” staff, he said, and his tenure there helped him become more familiar with the local community.
He doesn’t necessarily feel Mt. Carmel has to be a Tier-I school, but he wants to implement methods those schools use, especially focusing on improvements in technology.
“How do we still make sure we’re reaching the kids,” he said, “who we can serve the best?”
Mt. Carmel President Ned Hughes said in the release that Tabernacki is “a highly qualified leader,” and he’s excited about him leading the school as it prepares to begin its 120th year of education.
Several single-gender Catholic high schools in the Chicago area have become co-educational in recent years, but Mt. Carmel has remained an all-male school.
Tabernacki said single-gender education helps students remain focused, and Mt. Carmel is unique.
“There’s something special,” Tabernacki said, “about the atmosphere at Carmel, and in single-sex education, to allow kids to be comfortable.”
Mt Carmel will begin classes for the 2019-20 academic year on Aug. 26.