ROANOKE - Tom Welsh has long been an admirer of the Roanoke-Benson school system and now he is a part of it.
The new superintendent of District 60 took over his duties July 1, as he started on a three-year contract. According to Welsh, he has enjoyed becoming part of the community.
“I had some exposure to Roanoke-Benson as a baseball coach (at IVC) and the community always impressed me,” Welsh said. “I’m from Peoria, but I read about Roanoke and ran into the staff and students over the years.”
During his first year as superintendent, Welsh hopes to get to know the community and better familiarize himself with the school system.
“The goal this year will be to learn about the school system, learn about the community, talk to people and look for opportunities for growth that could lie ahead,” Welsh said. “Every school district is unique and Roanoke-Benson is not an exception.”
He began infusing himself into the school system at registration, which he said was a great opportunity to see parents and staff come through the building.
Welsh has several family links to education and a wide background of various positions that span all three levels of education. He has also worked in a variety of settings from rural to urban and private to public schools.
Welsh graduated from Bradley University, Peoria, with a bachelor of science and master of arts in educational administration and also earned his Superintendent certification from Western Illinois University, Macomb. He has served as a principal in the Peoria Public School system at Garfield Primary, Loucks Middle School and in the Dunlap District at Ridgeview Elementary, Dunlap Middle School and Dunlap High School. He also served as a high school teacher at Chillicothe-based Illinois Valley Central and Decatur St. Teresa.
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He was named the David Helman 2015 Principal of the year by ELITE, a community outreach program in Peoria and won an award of “Excellence” for outstanding contributions to Illinois education by the Illinois State Board of Education as part of the “Those Who Excel” recognition program.
His most recent position prior to coming to R-B was Executive Director of High Schools in Peoria District 150.
Welsh will also serve as principal at Sowers Elementary. He said he likes the idea of combining the positions of superintendent and principal.
“It will let me stay in touch with what goes on in the classroom and also maintain relationships,” Welsh said.
Welsh and his wife, Tina, are planning to move to town. She works as the administrative assistant to the vice president of student affairs at BU. They are the parents of four grown children. Taylor Jones is a teacher in Bartonville, Sarah works in the OSF Human Resources office, Katelyn works in hospital administration and Tommy works for Hoerr Racing in Dunlap.
Welsh has also enjoyed working with the members of the school board who hired him to replace predecessor Rohn Peterson, who retired at the end of June.
“(The board) is a very committed group of individuals and I’ve really enjoyed the dialogue we’ve had,” Welsh said. “The members of the board are extremely educated and successful in their own professions, which is a big help to us.”
Notes: Welsh is the seventh superintendent since the consolidation of Roanoke and Benson took place in the fall of 1956. Besides Peterson, the list includes Clyde Corn, Frank Sowers, Frank Crawford, John Crumrine and Lynn Curtis.