Elser had been serving as principal at Central Elementary, leaving a vacancy in that position, which will be filled by Jered Weh.
“The opportunity came open, and I jumped at it,” said Weh, who had been serving principal of Joseph Arthur Middle School (JAMS) since 2011.
“I’m just getting my familiarity back with the elementary school, and I’m extremely excited to work with Ms. Elser as superintendent. She was phenomenal to work with alongside as an administrator, side by side,” said Weh.
To take’s Weh’s old spot at JAMS, the district has hired Tron Young, of O’Fallon, who has been the Centralia Junior High School principal for the past four years.
“I cannot wait to see what direction we take Central 104 together with Ms. Elser and with Mr. Young, the new principal over at Joseph Arthur,” said Weh.
“I was a building administrator at Breese District 12 for four years,” Weh said of the post, which was preschool through eighth grade.
Prior to being an administrator, Weh was a history teacher at the Carlyle junior high and high schools.
Weh and his wife of 17 years, Nicole, a special education teacher at Central High School in Breese, live in Carlyle.
“I have three beautiful children Braden, 14, Ashlyn, 12, and Eli, 8, who keep me hoppin’ and on my toes,” Weh said.
Eli, who the Wehs adopted from China in 2010, was born with bilateral cleft lip and palate.
“He just had his last major surgery in June —surgery No. 8, I believe — so we’ve been busy all summer,” he said.
Entering the second grade in the fall, Eli is “tough and thriving,” according to his dad.
“He’s resilient. They had to do a bone graph from his hip; hopefully it takes,” Weh said.
As far as his new job goes, Weh said he wants to keep up his predecessor’s initiative, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) program that instills rewards for positive behavior in students.
“It’s far better than the endless reprimanding and this way kids can feel encouraged before they are confronted with something,” Weh said.
Weh said that a handful teachers have piloted their own little program or workshop with Connect Ed to help students struggling with testing in certain areas.
“So we’re going to focus on bringing up our reading and math skills. All the schools across the nation are doing it, but like my father used to say, ‘I don’t care about everybody else. I care about you,’ and these kids more than deserve it, and we’re gonna give it to ’em,” Weh said.
Beginning the implementation of standardized report cards this year from kindergarten through second grade will be a major focus this year with subjects like fluency, phonetics and numbers, Weh said.
“To me, it is going to be difficult because as a parent, as a student, as a teacher, all those years, everybody — I use that term loosely — is used to seeing the ‘A, B, C, D, F.’ That’s how everybody’s gauged. It’s how you gauged yourself. The state of Illinois is trying to push away from that. So it’s standardized, so the ‘4, 3, 2, 1.’ We’re focusing more (on) mastery,” Weh explained.
The change is new, but not bad, according to Weh.
“So that’s going to be one of the major things we’re going to focus on — trying to get that understanding and get that off the ground. Like everything else though, it’s gonna be fine. It’s just the newness of everything and change. A lot of people don’t embrace change, but if it’s for the betterment, then let’s do it,” he said.
Young said he can’t wait for the first school bells to ring.
“For me, education is an essential key to life,” Young said.
Young said he wants get his new students excited about school so they can then “turn that excitement into achievement.”
“I’m an all-around, hands-on guy, so I wanna make sure the whole school experience is something the kids can be excited about and say, ‘Hey, I go to Joseph Arthur Middle School,’” Young said.
Born and raised in Centralia, Young said it was there that his first thought of being an educator was nurtured.
“I have always wanted to be a teacher. I was inspired by my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Judy Truitt, who is the reason why I’m an educator today,” Young said.
Young said, Truitt, who is retired but still substitutes in Centralia, still plays a major role in his life.
“That’s the role I hope to play — not only with the kids and the community, but with our teachers — inspiring them to reach kids, make connections with kids. That connection is what helps make learning more meaningful and purposeful,” Young said.
Before stepping into administration, Young taught at Centralia Schiller Elementary School, a first-through-third-grade building, and then was an instructor for seventh-grade math and social studies teacher at Centralia Junior High School for seven years.
“I think if you were to ask my students at Centralia Junior High, they would tell you they all knew Mr. Young,” said Young, who also coached basketball in Centralia. “I’m a, ‘It’s your birthday, I’m gonna sing to you,’ kinda of guy, or ‘I’m gonna tell you how awesome of a game you had,’ and ‘I’m going to encourage you if you’re not doing work.’
“I’m gonna hold you accountable, but I’m going to support you and love you like you were my own child.”
Moving into his post at JAMS, Young said, is refreshing because it’s smaller, which paves the way for him to build lasting relationships with students, teachers and staff.
“I pride myself on getting to know my students, being hands-on in the classrooms, learning and connecting with them,” he said.
Having an open door policy is important to Young, he said.
“I would love to meet all of the parents. I’m excited to get to know their students and to make sure that their passions are something that I’m able to enhance and nurture, so that when they get to high school, they will be able to truly focus and develop those skills for a bright future,” Young said.
Young made O’Fallon his home four years ago with his wife, Keisha, a nurse in St. Louis. They have a 6-month-old baby boy, Tytan, he said.
“I’m definitely a family person. I come from a large family. My mother has nine brothers and sisters, so I like being around family and I definitely love being a new dad and enjoying all the new, lovely experiences that that brings and the changes of my kid on a daily basis,” Young said.
Young has degrees from Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he is now working on his his doctorate in education leadership.
In his spare time, Young said he enjoys free time with the family, working out at the gym or at New Life In Christ Interdenominational Church, where he serves on the Spirit of Education Committee.
“I look forward to being more involved in the community. I really do. I was heavily involved in Centralia. I was on chamber and community committees. I really invested myself, and it was really hard leaving there, but I look forward to investing myself here. This is my home now,” Young said.
Meet Jered Weh
Q: What was the last book you read?
A: A novel by James Patterson. He is my favorite author.
Q: What do you like to do in free time?
A: Spend time with my family and go hiking, camping and fishing.
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?
A: Ski soda and some James Patterson books for sippin’ and readin’ beachside.
Q: What is something people don’t know about you?
A: I’m a triplet. I have a brother and a sister the same age as me. We also have a younger sister too.
Meet Tron Young
Q: Do you have words to live by?
A: To make a difference, you have to do things that others may not think to do, to get the results that others are not able to get.
Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?
A: Sean Patrick Thomas
Q:What type of music do you listen to?
A: If you would look at my playlist, it is very diversified. I listen to a lot of R&B, ’90s music is the best, gospel, and country.
Q: What would people be most surprised to know about you?
A: I have a frog collection in my office that was given to me from students I taught.