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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
At a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 30, Pikeland’s board approved hiring Tracey Allen as Pittsfield South Elementary School principal and Dawn Collver as Pittsfield High School guidance counselor.
Allen currently serves as a 3rd grade teacher at Pikeland Community School. This is her fifth year teaching 3rd grade, and she has previously spent eight years teaching 1st grade and two years teaching kindergarten in the Pikeland district. Prior to teaching at Pikeland, Allen spent four years teaching pre-k in Illiopolis and one year at Meredosia-Chambersburg.
Allen holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Western Illinois University and a second Master’s in Educational Administration from Hannibal-LaGrange University.
According to Allen, her interest in becoming a school administrator is rooted in a desire to improve the special education system and to build stronger connections between the school district and the community.
“I haven’t always wanted to be an administrator, but a few years ago I became very interested in the special education system and building relationships with families,” Allen said.
Allen said that relationships between educators and community members have suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think we’ve lost a lot of connections,” Allen said. “I look forward to building back those positive connections. I’m excited to get in there and help the district grow and to let people in the community know that we are really here to help.”
Allen also indicated that she would place an emphasis on working closely with classroom teachers to ensure they are equipped with the tools they need to succeed.
“I’ve always been hands-on,” Allen said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the faculty to learn what their needs are – whether it’s help with classroom management or curriculum development. My goal is to help them get the most out of their students as they can.”
To help with Allen’s transition from teacher to administrator, Pikeland hired retired Quincy Public Schools principal Ann Cashman to serve as associate principal on a 60 day contract.
According to Allen, the presence of Cashman will allow Allen to assist her current 3rd grade class transition to a new teacher.
“It’s a priority of Superintendent Kilver and myself to make sure my students are taken care of,” Allen said. “That will allow me to still spend some time in my classroom.”
Cashman will also serve as a mentor to Allen as she moves into her new role.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn from someone who has been in the trenches,” Allen said.
Pikeland Board President Curt Simonson said that hiring Cashman is an effort on the part of the district to put Allen in a position to succeed in her new position.
“It’s a common practice to hire an experienced administrator to provide the guidance that a young administrator needs going forward,” Simonson said. “We try to put everybody in the best circumstances we can.”
Simonson spoke highly of Cashman’s talents and experience.
“Ann Cashman has been a tremendously successful principal in the Quincy district,” Simonson said. “She understands testing, understands curriculum, and understands parents and kids. That’s the skill set she has.”
Allen, who attended Pikeland schools as a child, said that she was excited to take the next step in her career as the principal of South Elementary School.
“I’m super excited,” Allen said. “I went to school there. I taught there, and now I’m going to be the principal. I’ve gone full circle.”
Allen currently has three children in the Pikeland district – one at South, PCS and PHS, respectively.
Allen will serve as associate principal during the spring semester of the current school year, and will become full principal at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. Assistant Superintendent Angie Ruebush will remain as associate principal for the duration of the spring semester.
The Pikeland board also approved hiring Dawn Collver to replace the retiring Michelle Westbrook as PHS guidance counselor.
Collver is currently an 8th grade special education teacher at PCS. Collver has spent 10 years teaching at Pikeland and had previously taught 4th grade in Louisiana, Mo.
Collver said her interest in becoming a guidance counselor started four years ago, when she was asked by her principal to work one-on-one with a struggling student.
“It made me want to work more with students one-on-one or in small groups,” Collver said.
According to Collver, she is looking forward to working more closely with students and their families to help students transition to the next chapters in their lives.
“I’m super excited to have been a part of Pikeland schools for 10 years, and I’m ready for this change,” Collver said. “I’m excited to work with high school students and staff. I’ve worked with a lot of these kids at PCS and already have good relationships with their parents. It will be good to reconnect.”
Also approved at the Nov. 30 special board meeting was the hiring of Ashlee Nash as a pre-k bus driver and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for a Pikeland employee.