Familiar face takes over as superintendent at O'Fallon Central 104
She’s been an aid, a teacher, a principal, and now she’s the new superintendent at O’Fallon Central School District 104.
“I’m very excited to be here with the opportunity to have the role of superintendent, as it’s always been a lifelong goal of mine to be the leader of the school,” said Dawn Elser, who takes over for former superintendent John Bute, who accepted a new position with Prairie Grove Consolidated School District 46 in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
Elser has been with the district for almost 30 years.
“Really, my entire career has been here,” Elser said.
Starting her education career in 1989 after graduating from St. Louis University, Elser said her first job as a first-grade teacher’s aid at Central Elementary School, followed by one year of teaching second and then third grade.
“After that, I spent the majority of my career teaching the first-grade — for 17 years,” Elser said.
Elser was Central Elementary principal for nine years. Her first day as superintendent was July 1.
“I’m very fortunate. I feel like we have a very strong board of education, which is a very strong asset to have,” she said.
Elser said she’s witnessed the district and the community grow a lot over that time.
“Wow, have I seen it grow and just change. When I started here at Central, there was a field across the street, so it truly built up around us, and continues to be a wonderful district,” Elser said.
While Central 104 is the smallest of the three districts in O’Fallon (O’Fallon Community Consolidated SD 90 and O’Fallon Township High School District 203 being the other two), Elser said the district is an important part of the larger community, and she wants to expand relationships beyond school boundary lines.
“I want to make Central 104 part of that whole community of O’Fallon. You know, we are always that small, little district. So I want to build those relationships and collaborate with the other schools and the surrounding community to make the create a more collaborative atmosphere,” Elser said.
Another goal of Elser’s is to “get parents on board with some of the decision making.”
“I think that’s very important — to have that parent community input,” she said. “So look forward to having either community meetings or — not right away, but down the line — some kind of strategic planning committee that we form with community members, parents and teachers input to see how Central’s going.”
According to Elser, the district had such a committee about 10 years ago, but it fell by the wayside.
“I’d like to revisit it,” she said.
But her main focus is always going to be the kids, she said.
“The kids need to feel that they’re loved and supported,” Elser said.
Meet Dawn Elser
Q: Whom do you most admire?
A: I most admire my father, the late Barney Elser the most. He was a kind, gentle man who would do anything for anybody. He gave me my athletic ability, ambition, sense of humor and ‘never say never’ attitude.
Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?
A: I love to golf and travel for fun and relaxation.
Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?
A: My desktop can be described as organized chaos. I have piles of stuff on top of my desk, but I know exactly where to find things.