Parishioner Profiles: Tom Padalino

Thoreau Demonstration Academy principal and Church of Saint Mary parishioner, Tom Padalino, received a surprise last month. At the school’s eighth grade promotion ceremony, he learned that Thoreau’s Auditorium would be named after him.


The Tom Padalino Auditorium! That’s quite an honor. Were you surprised? How did that make you feel?

Yes, I was very surprised by this great honor. I was humbled by the gesture of naming the auditorium after me. It was the 8th grade students gift back to the school along with the 8th grade parents who wanted to do this. I am very appreciative of the work they did to make it happen.

You spent the last two decades building up Thoreau. What was your role? What part the most rewarding?

I served for 20 years as the principal of Thoreau. We opened the school with only 177 students and now the school has over 630 students.

My greatest satisfaction in completing the Thoreau Project was seeing so many students from all over Tulsa and from so many different backgrounds come and form one community of learners. They really embraced the program that was designed to serve all students from all of Tulsa.

There is something different about Thoreau, something that it offers that is more than just a school. I believe that something can be credited to the specific innovations that we put in place twenty-two years ago that still work well today.

The programming centered around five groundbreaking programs that were quite new and untested together at the time for middle level students. They are:

  • Tribes
  • Microsociety
  • Differentiated Staffing Model
  • Highly Effective Teaching
  • Extended Day Programming


You and your wife, Peggy, are both educators. How did you both find your vocations?

Peggy and I came to Tulsa in 1975 because we both wanted to be teachers and there were no teaching positions at that time in our hometown of Buffalo, New York. We knew we were going to teach, just not where. We both started out at St. Pius X.

Tom and his family look up at the “Tom Padalino Auditorium” sign.

What’s next for you?

Now, I am an adjunct math teacher at Tulsa Community College where I have been a part time instructor for over 41 years.

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