LEMONT – Eric Michaelsen was so quiet about his professional ambitions that some people were surprised when the director of guidance and head football coach was named the next principal of Lemont High School.
“I didn’t make it public,” he said. “There were not many people that knew that this was something I was interested in.”
Michaelsen was officially approved as the new principal by a unanimous and emphatic vote during the Nov. 18 Lemont High School District 210 Board of Education meeting.
He has a long history with Lemont High School, since his days as a student there during the 1970s.
Like many Lemont residents, he is part of the generations of Lemont High School graduates that include his mother, grandparents and his children.
“Lemont High School has been a big part of my life and my family’s life,” he said.
Michaelsen said his experience at the school will help him in his role as principal.
“I think it’s an advantage because I believe I understand the culture of the school,” he said.
One person who has known him for much of his life is Jim Driscoll, the chair of the social studies department at Lemont High School.
Driscoll, who is also an alumnus of the institution, said they first met when he was teaching a tennis class while in high school. Michaelsen was in grade school at the time.
When he became a teacher at the school, Driscoll had Michaelsen in his class for his senior year.
Driscoll said he struck up a friendship with Michaelsen.
“We really share a lot of the same values and behaviors,” he said.
When Driscoll became head of his department and heard that Michaelsen had also become a social studies teacher, he encouraged Michaelsen to apply for a job at Lemont High School.
He was also the head football coach before Michaelsen and had him on his staff.
Driscoll said Michaelsen’s leadership is exactly what the school needs.
He said a growing number of students come from white collar families where being prepared for college is expected and that Michaelsen is likeable, but honest and willing to tell hard truths.
“You can flatter parents and you can tell them what they want to hear,” he said. “But they’re too smart and they know when they’re being told a story. They want substance.”
Michaelsen said he wants to continue to meet the needs of all students at Lemont High School.
“I want for (students), when they graduate from Lemont High School, to be able to do what they want to do,” he said.
When asked whether he wants his legacy at the school to be as the principal or the head football coach, Michaelsen said he wants to be known simply as someone who helped students.
“I hope that they remember me as somebody that worked hard for the high school in whatever position I had,” he said.