Thomas Schergen was appointed principal of De La Salle Institute by the Board of Directors in 2020. Schergen is a member of the class of 1997 and assumed his duties as principal on July 1, 2020. Before coming into his role as principal, Schergen served as Principal of IC Catholic Prep in Elmhurst, IL, where he also held positions of President and Athletic Director in his eight-year tenure. Before beginning at IC Catholic Prep, Schergen also served at Marist High School and Maria High School, and he also previously taught at De La Salle from 2001-2002.
Schergen is now entering his second year as principal of De La Salle. He was a former student of De La Salle looking to come back and work for the community who shaped him into the leader he is today. “I wouldn’t be here or who I am today without my four years at De La Salle. I grew up on the South-Side of Chicago so this is home,” said Schergen. For Schergen, coming back to his alma mater is a personal joy for him.
Schergen further explained how much the school has changed since he was a student once sitting in these classroom seats, “It’s funny because the room we’re sitting in was a cafeteria when I was a student, and the cafeteria now, is a gym. The evolution and growth is amazing,” said Schergen.
As so many things have changed over the years, Schergen made clear De La Salle’s diversity and close-knit community never changed. Though Schergen’s first year of being principal at De La Salle was full of chaos, change, and compromise, due to the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic, he explained that being somewhere he was familiar with greatly encouraged and helped him through the pandemic. “It was rough, but I think having some familiarity because I graduated from here, and this being a home for such a long time, really helped me get through it,” said Schergen. Certain changes that came into effect during his first year as principal were the hybrid and remote academic schedule, the IHSA athletic schedule, and adjusting to follow precautions and protocol of the new “normal.”
Prior to being principal at De La Salle, Schergen worked as an athletic director, as well. “At the heart of both jobs (being principal and athletic director), you’re working with students on a daily basis just trying to provide the best education and opportunities for them,” said Schergen. Schergen believes despite being principal or athletic director, it’s really just about the work and concern for the well-being of the students. As long as you have a good attitude towards the students, the kids reciprocate the attitude.
With one foot out of the pandemic and entering fully back into the school building, Schergen and his team adjusted to the circumstances. Last year, “[He] tried to interact with as many students as possible and with the student body, but it was hard because say you had a student here on Monday A-L, I wasn’t going to see the student again until Thursday. You did not have the opportunity to check on or with the student until two days later,” said Schergen. The impact he had on the start of the school this year is different than the year previous. He has been able to be fully hands-on as the new principal of De La Salle and fully check-in on the students. Being able to finally introduce himself to everyone in-person was a big change for the better in his newest role.
Despite certain struggles and changes from the previous year, Schergen and his team intend to make the most of this school year with all students back in the building. “Despite your grade level, whether it be seniors working on college applications, juniors starting the college process, sophomores getting adjusted to their Meteor Grow Groups, and freshmen getting acquainted with the De La Salle community, there’s something for everybody,” said Schergen. It’s the start to an amazing year, amazing changes, and amazing opportunities!