Dr. Tim Phares: New CHS Principal Intends to Build Upon the School Traditions
Carmel Clay Schools (CCS) recently named Carmel resident Dr. Tim Phares as the next principal of Carmel High School (CHS) for the upcoming 2022–23 school year. We are pleased to feature Dr. Phares on this month’s cover and appreciate the time that he spent speaking with us about his career at CCS as well as the importance of improving the standards and carrying on the many time-honored traditions that make CHS the remarkable high school that it is.
Meet Dr. Tim Phares
Dr. Phares lives in Carmel with his wife—who graduated CHS in 1999—and their four children, who currently attend Carmel Clay Schools. Dr. Phares’ parents were both educators and were positive influences on Dr. Phares as he began his career in education.
During his 22 years in Carmel Clay Schools, Dr. Phares has gained a comprehensive background as an educator and administrator. He began his career as a kindergarten teacher at Orchard Park Elementary before serving as the assistant principal at Prairie Trace Elementary, then principal at Orchard Park and Towne Meadow.
As the current principal for Creekside Middle School, Dr. Phares has demonstrated his ability to lead and dedication to growth and achievement. Last year, the Indiana Association of School Principals recognized Dr. Phares as the District 5 Middle School Principal of the Year for his professional accomplishments, qualifications and leadership.
Dr. Phares is a longtime Carmel resident with four children who currently attend Carmel Clay Schools. Whether supporting his kids or school family, he can usually be found near a sports field, performing stage or operating the grill for the Phares crew or Creekside staff.
Dr. Phares received his B.S. in education (elementary education) from Indiana Wesleyan; M.S. in education (educational administration and supervision) from Ball State University; Ed.S. (education specialist) and Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) from Ball State University.
“When I started in this [school] district, I looked at it as they were taking a chance on me,” Dr. Phares shared. “And I always look at hiring teachers as making an investment for years to come. CCS is investing in me, and I look at what I’m going to be able to give back.”
When Dr. Phares started teaching for the CCS district more than 20 years ago, he got involved with coaching baseball and basketball and was involved with the Carmel Dads’ Club while he continued working on his professional development, working on his administrative license and earning his doctorate.
“I was teaching kindergarten, coaching seventh- and eighth-grade sports and eventually high school sports,” Dr. Phares said. “My career has been built around all [grade] levels of kids. I give a lot of credit to the people I’ve been surrounded by—the great educators in Carmel—that took me under their wings.”
Dr. Phares continued, “I finished my doctorate in 2017 and had my superintendent’s license and felt that my ultimate goal was the central office. To me, the pinnacle of high school administration and building administration is Carmel High School. There is no better place for me to continue my educational journey than CHS.”
When the opportunity arose for Dr. Phares to sign on as CHS’ incoming principal for the upcoming school year, he expressed that the timing was just right.
Dr. Phares added, “It’s an opportunity to continue to learn and grow and to be part of something bigger than me. That’s what’s brought me here today.”
While walking and talking with Dr. Phares through the halls of CHS, we noticed that members of the staff and students alike stopped to exchange a few words with Dr. Phares, an indication that Dr. Phares is not only a popular figure but is approachable as well.
“I would say that building relationships has always been a big thing for me,” Dr. Phares expressed. “I always say that kids want your time, and they value that interaction. For me, that’s where the relationship piece comes in. We [educators] have to encourage the kids to get involved, and we have to connect with the kids because those relationships matter. This will be a continued goal with me—in this next role.”
Addressing the Challenges While Carrying on the Traditions
When asked what some of the challenges he will face as principal are, Dr. Phares said, “I think probably the greatest challenge will be getting back to a prepandemic level. We’ve learned a lot throughout the pandemic about things that we can do better, but there were a lot of things that we were doing really well—prepandemic—that we stopped doing just because we couldn’t do them, or we had to socially distance and things like that. So, for me, I think it’s being able to reflect on the things that we were doing well and being able to get those things going again.”
Bringing back some of CHS’ time-honored traditions that were put on hiatus is a goal of Dr. Phares’ as he begins to plan the 2022–23 school year.
“The traditions of our schools are part of the fabric of what we do every day,” Dr. Phares said. “Getting back to ‘normal’ is going to be one of the challenges, but I do feel that we are closer to that new ‘normal’ than we were a year ago. I think we’re on our way there.”
Committed to CHS and to the Carmel Community
Throughout our conversation with Dr. Phares, it was important for him to convey to the staff, students and CHS families that his “doors are always open” and that he wants to be approachable.
“When I’m out in the community, I want to be approachable, and that’s not going to change just because I’m working in a bigger building or have a higher profile,” Dr. Phares emphasized. “I want to be able to have a conversation, whether I’m grilling a burger for the track meet or out and about in the community. If a parent comes up and wants to talk—let’s talk. It’s not always negative things. Sometimes they just want to share an experience or share something about their child, and those are things I want to know.”
Dr. Phares reminded us that he’s raising his own children in the district and that he and his family consider his being principal at CHS as a family commitment as much as it is an individual commitment.
Dr. Phares added, “Our kids are Greyhounds, and they love it. As a family, we embrace more than just the school system. We love being out and about in the [Carmel] community. This position just creates more of an opportunity to connect with people.”
When asked about getting to know his staff and taking an honest look at what things need improvement, Dr. Phares said, “As educators, we could easily hang our hats on test score or rest our laurels on accomplishments and things that we offer our kids, but every day we are having conversations about how we can get better. These are not always easy conversations, but when they’re hard, that’s when those relationships matter the most. We talk about providing the best that we can for our students and how we can be even better. That’s one of the things that CCS does really well, and my colleagues—all 15 principals—are constantly talking about what we are doing and how we could do things differently and better. It goes back to this whole community feel of how we can continue to get better at what we do within this community.”