Meet AIRSS’s Three Newest Board Members

At this year’s Illinois Association of School Administrators annual conference in Springfield, the AIRSS Executive Board met to share about the organization’s recent work and name the newest board members. Please join us in welcoming these great rural advocates as they prepare to kick off their two-year terms on January 1st, 2024.

The Board is organized to cover every rural place in Illinois, with representatives from each of the six state Education Service Areas. Areas One and Two cover the northern reaches of the state from the Mississippi River to Chicago. Area Three encompasses western Illinois while Area Four covers the eastern section of the state. Area Five represents the southwestern corner of Illinois from St. Louis to Springfield, and Area Six includes the southern and southeastern portions of the state.

Representing Area Three, we’re proud to welcome Mr. John Meixner, Regional Superintendent of ROE 26, to the board.

Mr. Meixner began his educational career at the Industry Community Unit School District as a Physical Education Instructor, District Athletic Director, and the High School Head Coach of Boys Basketball and Baseball. After 5 years at Industry Schools, Mr. Meixner then started at the Southeastern School District as a Physical Education Instructor and Coach. He ended his career at Southeastern as the Junior High Dean of Students and the District Athletic Director.

Mr. Meixner is active within his community, serving on a number of Committees and Boards, including Treasurer of the State Regional Office of Education Association. Mr. Meixner has also served on a number of local and state committees, task forces, and commissions.

He has been a resident of McDonough County for more than 45 years. After graduating from Macomb High School, he continued his education at Western Illinois University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership. Mr. Meixner still resides in Macomb and is the proud parent of two daughters and grandparent of two granddaughters.

AIRSS is excited to welcome Dr. Kyle Thompson, Regional Superintendent of ROE 11, to the board as well, representing Area Four.

Dr. Thompson has served Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie, and Shelby counties at the ROE 11 for over ten years. He began his career at Windsor Jr. Sr. High School where he taught and coached for five years. He then spent one year as an assistant principal in southern Illinois. In 2013, at the age of 30, he was appointed Assistant Regional Superintendent, a position in which he served for six years. During that time, Dr. Thompson earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Educational Specialist endorsement at Eastern Illinois University before earning his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at Indiana State University. In 2018, he was elected to his first term as Regional Superintendent where he seeks to ensure students are the highest priority.

A lifelong learner himself, he values education and strives each day to equip educators with the resources they need to be successful within their school districts. Recently, addressing the teacher shortage and speaking for local control have been at the forefront of his advocacy efforts. Dr. Thompson’s continuity of service, legislative outreach, and noteworthy accomplishments have elevated him to be regarded as a highly respected and influential educational leader across the state. Dr. Thompson resides in Charleston, Illinois, with his wife and two children.

Please also join us in extending a warm welcome to Mr. Todd Dugan, Superintendent of Bunker Hill CUSD 8, who will represent Area Five on the Board.

Growing up in rural Atlanta, IL, Mr. Dugan has spent much of his career focused on serving small and rural districts. He has been at Bunker Hill, an award-winning rural and distant district in downstate Illinois serving 620 families throughout south-central Illinois, since 2018. Previously, he held dual roles as superintendent and principal in the New Holland-Middletown ESD 88 for six years. Before arriving in New Holland-Middletown, Mr. Dugan was an elementary and junior high principal in Chillicothe as well as a social studies teacher in Lincoln and Greenview for nine years.

A 2017 Tech & Learning Leader of the Year, the 2018 Illinois State University EAF Superintendent of the Year, and most recently the 2022 Lighthouse Award winner from Illinois Association of School Business Officials, Mr. Dugan has presented and published numerous times on 21st-century education and disrupting inequity, digital and otherwise. Recently he has worked intensively with his district to launch a number of exemplary CTE and work-based learning programs, including a healthcare sciences pathway.

As these three new members prepare to step onto the Association’s Board, we are thrilled to welcome their experience, insight, and expertise to our ongoing work as the Voice for rural and small schools. Their diverse regional and life perspectives will be invaluable as we prepare for the inaugural year of the state’s new Rural Education Advisory Council.

“The Board is the lifeblood of any non-profit organization, and requires a strong commitment from a dedicated group of volunteers. AIRSS is fortunate to have a longstanding, committed board that now is expanding with new members to support the Association and its members. I am so grateful for our AIRSS Board and the opportunity to work with them to improve rural and small schools,” says Dave Ardrey Executive Director.

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