By Jenna Soroka
(AJNews) – For the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, staff, students, and parents at Talmud Torah (TT) can expect a new face walking the halls. Darin Johnson M. Ed, will be stepping into the principal role this September. He has been teaching with Edmonton Public Schools since 1997 and has taught at five elementary schools in the school division. These career opportunities have led him on the path of leadership, formally beginning in 2009 as a teacher mentor and consultant for Edmonton Public Schools. He was also the assistant principal at Minchau School and Michael A. Kostek School and is currently the acting principal at Michael A. Kostek School.
Principal Sandra Marianicz has been assigned to Patricia Heights School and spoke with deep appreciation for her time at TT. Marianicz has spent the past four years connecting with the TT family and building relationships during her first principalship. In reflection, she describes this next chapter as “bitter-sweet” because Talmud Torah has a special place in her heart. She is excited for the new adventure but will miss the connections, relationships, and conversations at TT the most.
“It is always the people that give the school its vibrancy,” Marianicz stated. For many Talmud Torah families, their stories exist as a multi-generational experience with the school, she noted. It’s this rich history from grandparent to parent to child to grandchild that makes it a unique environment.
When asked to consider what Marianicz will bring with her moving forward from her time at TT, she explained that she will bring a greater understanding of Jewish culture, history, and the tradition of excellence. She added that “I will treasure the commitment and love that families have for the school.” Marianicz acknowledged the significant role TT plays in the Jewish community as well, and she knows the incoming principal will “come to appreciate what a really special place TT is.”
This past fall, Johnson spent a week as acting principal at TT. He values connection building and shared his excitement getting to know people and them getting to know him. Talmud Torah Society’s Executive Assistant, Natalie Soroka, expressed how he left a positive, meaningful impression on staff and students during the short time he was there. “Darin was eager and willing to learn about the Society as well as the school’s unique alternative program and culture.”
In a phone call interview with Johnson, he reaffirmed this desire and the importance of taking time to listen, observe, and learn about a school’s established community and culture. He went on by sharing how he intends to “find out what people are valuing and curious about” and then offer his own experiences to enhance and retain current, supportive education for students, as needed.
He shared a similar sentiment in his introduction letter to the Talmud Torah community along with a personal blurb about his family. He has two sons, one in grade 12 and the other is an apprentice carpenter. He values leading an active lifestyle and enjoys spending time with his wife exploring the river valley and fixing up their home.
Johnson shared that he will miss the current school he is working at for all the relationships he has built. However, he is enthusiastic to establish new relationships with Talmud Torah’s community and partners. “I already feel invited into the community,” said Johnson.
He is looking forward to working with the TT Society board, school staff, students, and parents heading into the new school year. A strategic transition plan is in place to assist with Darin Johnson’s switch to the role of principal at Talmud Torah.
Jenna Soroka is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.