John Linehan is the new principal at Lakeview Middle School. He previously served at Windermere High School for six years and West Orange High School for 17 years. His responsibility is to help create a secure and welcoming environment where individuals are positive, kind and nurturing — “for our school to be a place that strives for excellence in all aspects, particularly in student achievement,” he said, “(and) for us to honor the history of the school and for the community to take great pride when they talk about us. I want parents and community members to actively support and defend the school, and enthusiastically spread the good news whenever possible.”
What brought you to your school?
I worked for 17 years at West Orange and really became attached to the local community. As the enrollment soared, the Ninth-Grade Center was reopened, and I got the opportunity to work as the senior assistant principal. I loved working with the ninth-grade students and staff and was happy with the school culture we were able to create. That gave me the confidence and drive to want to pursue the principalship at Lakeview.
What do you love most about your school?
Lakeview has such a rich history, and the local community takes great pride in the school. The Winter Garden community supports the school and wants it to be as successful as possible — a high-performing school to be proud of.
What is your motivation?
Being the principal of Lakeview is not something I take lightly. I feel I have a great responsibility to the stakeholders who are entrusting me with this local gem. I have always hated letting anyone down — especially when someone has faith in me. I am determined to do everything I can to take Lakeview to new heights.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend much of my spare time working on home-improvement projects. I really enjoy knowing that I can do almost anything in my house if I just put my mind to it — especially with YouTube to assist. I am also into fitness and occasionally compete in CrossFit and powerlifting.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
My high school political science teacher, who was also one of my coaches. He made me see my potential and saw in me what I didn’t see in myself. Furthermore, because he saw my potential, he pushed me to believe in myself and to always do my best. I always wanted to prove him right.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I wanted to be a head football coach in a high school so I could make a difference to someone like my high school coach and political science teacher made in my life.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. I loved the book when I was a child but loved it even more when I read it to my daughters when they were little. I could get them hanging on every word. It was awesome!
What does it mean to you to be selected as a new principal at the school?
It really is an honor. I feel it is very important that I have a clear vision of what I want the school to be and everything we do must support this vision.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I would fly. This way I could visit friends and relatives without having to drive to their houses.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be?
U2, Earth Wind and Fire, and Darius Rucker.
What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student?
I used to love the meat-and-gravy mixture that they would put on the instant mashed potatoes at school. There were all kinds of nicknames that people would give it — and none of them were nice — but I just called it “delicious.” I also love black licorice and circus peanuts.
What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving. There is no pressure, and it just kicks off the holiday season, so there is no letdown when it is over.
Who was your best friend when you were in school?
Chris moved into my neighborhood some time around fifth grade, and we were as thick as thieves ever since. We played sports together through high school, went on double dates together and still talk on the phone occasionally. He lives in Massachusetts, but when we talk, it’s just like we were never separated.
What were your extracurricular activities as a student?
I was the captain of three sports in a small town in Massachusetts. My best sport was football, where I learned many life lessons. I was also voted most congenial in my class in high school.