New Principal Chosen for Providence Catholic
Plainfield District 202 Superintendent John Harper is set to retire in July from District 202.
Harper, whose contract expires in July, is set to take over as the new principal at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox next school year, according to a message from Providence President Rev. Richard McGrath.
District 202 Community Relations Director Tom Hernandez confirmed the news Tuesday, saying Harper sent a message about his new job to district leaders this week.
“After an extensive search we have chosen the best candidate for the job. He is one of our own, a PCHS alumnus and current parent with extensive educational experience to lead our school community,” McGrath said in a message to Providence families.
In a message posted to the Providence website, Harper, a former Providence student, said the move to the Catholic high school signaled "the circle of life."
“For the past 33 years I've been blessed to both live and work in District 202, and I'll remain eternally grateful for the life lessons I've learned from my colleagues, our families and most especially, our students," Harper said. "Ironically, I've come to understand the personal values and beliefs which have strengthened and sustained me both personally and professionally for the past three decades, which were first taught to me and modeled while I was a student at Providence Catholic.
"Consequently, being named Principal of Providence Catholic is a tremendous honor, bringing with it a strong sense of 'coming home,'" he added.
Harper started his career in District 202 in 1981 as a social studies teacher at Indian Trail Middle School. The campus, now marking its 50th anniversary, is slated to get a brick garden dubbed "Harper's Hollow" in his honor.
According to District 202's most recent administrator salary report, Harper's base salary is $270,446.33, plus $15,000 in annuities and $49,007.46 in other benefits.
Hernandez said the Harper's new job won't affect his pension.
In 2009, the previous Plainfield school board stirred controversy by voting to extend Harper's contract for another five years while laying off 86 other staffers.
Rod Westfall, who remains on the board, told Patch he voted against the extension, since Harper still had more than two years left on his contract.
During Harper's career, District 202 has grown dramatically, most notably during the years of 1998 to 2008, when enrollment went from 3,500 students in five schools to 30,000 students in 30 schools.
Harper is set to retire this July from District 202. Former Plainfield Central High School Principal Lane Abrell, who is currently serving as associate superintendent, will take over as the new superintendent.