A native Iowan who serves as principal of a Catholic high school in St. Petersburg, Fla., has been named the new president of Skutt High School in west Omaha.
John McMahon, 37, has worked in various positions at St. Petersburg Catholic High School since 1999 — teacher, director of student activities, coordinator of youth ministry, dean of students and now principal.
He is a product of Catholic schools, including a bachelor's and two master's degrees from the University of Notre Dame.
McMahon will take his new post at Skutt July 1, succeeding Patrick Slattery, now superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Omaha. Slattery served on the committee that unanimously selected McMahon, who was among an initial field of 20 applicants.
“His education, his experience, his passion for the job, he was just a perfect fit for Skutt Catholic,” Slattery said.
Scott Drvol, president of Skutt's board, said McMahon will lead Skutt, which marked its 20th year last year, from its strong position as a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon school to even greater achievement.
“He is an exceptional administrator who truly cares about the students and faculty and will become a strong leader and representative of Skutt Catholic in Omaha,” he said in a statement. Drvol and Slattery announced the appointment to Skutt's faculty and staff early Tuesday.
McMahon said he's excited to return to his Midwestern roots and to be a part of Skutt and its mission.
He saw as he researched the school that it accomplished a tremendous amount in 20 years and had poised itself for continued success.
“There was a tremendous attraction to be part of that school and part of that future,” he said.
McMahon grew up in Algona in northern Iowa. He attended Catholic schools and graduated from Bishop Garrigan High School in Algona before going on to Notre Dame.
The history major had planned to go to law school. But God, he said, had other plans for him. He completed a graduate program in education called the Alliance for Catholic Education, which sent him to St. Petersburg. The Florida school has about 420 students. Skutt has just under 700.
McMahon said he always planned to return to the Midwest and continued to spend time in the summers at Okoboji in Iowa. He first heard about the Skutt opening through extended family members from Omaha. A number of them also visit the lakes area.
McMahon visited Skutt twice. What drew him was the warm reception and the feeling that it was a special place, which is what he expects from a Catholic school.
“Am I going to feel that when I step onto this campus?” he said. “And I did.”
Skutt, he said, has had tremendous leadership in Slattery and Monsignor James Gilg, its founding president and now executive director of the Omaha Catholic Schools Consortium.
“I'm humbled and honored to follow in their footsteps and maintain the excellence they have established over those 20 years,” he said.
McMahon said he particularly has missed winter, and the cold, while living in Florida. His wife, Andrea, is a native of Tampa, Fla. But the first time he took her to Iowa, she told him they'd be back someday.
“She fell in love with the area,” he said. The couple have four dogs.