A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Tom Ruiz

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Tom Ruiz

Principal Tom Ruiz of St. Mary’s Catholic School believes a well rounded education is comprised not merely on facts and figures, but extends to core values and life lessons. A person has a responsibility to enrich the lives around him.

“The first place they learn is at home,” Ruiz says. “We reinforce here that you need to be compassionate, and care about your community. When they come here, we have high standards for them. My overall mission is to help teachers teach students about God and the skills they need to be successful in life.”

St. Mary’s upholds four pillars: Faith, Academic Excellence, Life Lessons, and Compassion.

Faith is inherent in everything they do. Students are taught scripture with their lessons and are able to look at things through a Christian lens.

St. Mary’s students are known for their Academic Excellence. They go on to be leaders at their high schools.

“We believe our students need technological skills to be successful in high school and in college. It’s something our students need and we are proud to be able to give it. The community has embraced technology, the parents embraced it. The kids absorb it like sponges.”

Tom’s personal passion for technology and science encouraged a wave of advancement to St. Mary’s. They are a 1:1 school, which means each student has a chromebook to use with their studies. A Tech Director was hired to manage things. Their classrooms use PCs and Smartboards, and teachers from other schools come to St. Mary’s to learn more about the technology they can utilize. St. Mary’s leads its diocese in technology.

The staff gives its students plenty of chances to lead on a more personal level. One example is a recent food drive they hosted. The children were in charge of logistics, like figuring out which items would be most beneficial and hiring a truck to pick it all up. Tom says projects like these build his students’ life experience and allows them to take ownership of the things they do for those around them. The task hit on every pillar. Students are encouraged to participate in clubs and organizations that both reflect their passions and enrich their learning. They have many choices: Underwater Robotics, Spanish, Student Council, Athletics, and dozens more.

tom-ruiz-2Tom coaches the St. Mary’s basketball team that his elder daughter plays on. He also coaches his younger daughter at the YMCA, since she is not old enough for the school’s team. Tom is a big believer in the life lessons athletics teaches, and actually played baseball himself in college.

The Environmental Club is another way he interacts with his students. Faith teaches that we are stewards of the Earth. The club takes students and their parents on field trips, like hiking and fishing, that foster compassion for the planet.

“Science really is the future,” Tom says. “It shapes you on a daily basis, everything from health to technology tools, to the environment and how we treat it.”

Tom has his educational roots in science. He attended IUN for a Bachelor’s of Secondary Education in Biology. At IUPUI he earned a Master’s in Science and Education.

He taught Science at Guion Creek Middle School in the late 90s. They made him Dean of Students, and his role became disciplinarian. It did not fit his forgiving nature but it did toughen him up, something he needed in order to become principal.

His first experience as Principal was as an Assistant at SouthPort Legrade Academy.In 2005, Tom came to St. Mary’s.

“We wanted to raise our kids where we grew up,” Tom says. He and his wife, who is also a school Principal, were living in Bloomington when they started their family. “We wanted them to be around their grandparents, family. Everyone says Crown Point is a great place to raise kids. It’s a progressive community, and a loving one.”