MONTICELLO — With snow and frigid temperatures gripping the area, Monticello’s newest school administrator will appreciate a shorter commute next year.
“I’ll be 3 miles from school now, which is pretty amazing. I’ve been doing 60 miles (round trip) a day,” said Beth Poynton of Monticello, who will take over as middle school principal and district transportation director in July.
But what the 21-year educator said she will appreciate more is seeing students, something not allowed in her current position as assistant principal at remote-only Stephen Decatur Middle School in Decatur.
“I’m excited to be back in a school with kids, because I’ve not had kids in my building now for almost a year,” she said.
The school board voted unanimously to hire Poynton on Feb. 17.
“We had 17 applicants apply for the job. We ended up interviewing eight,” current middle school Principal Mark Hughes said. “There was one consistent number one across the board, and that was Beth Poynton, and the reason for that was she has 21 years of teaching, most at the middle school level.”
Poynton grew up in Massillon, Ohio, which she called “a crazy football town” with a nearly 17,000-capacity high school football stadium.
Her teaching career began in Ohio, where she taught for seven years before meeting husband Bobby and moving to Illinois. They have lived in Monticello for 14 years.
Originally a band, orchestra and music instructor, Beth Poynton has been an assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson and Stephen Decatur Middle Schools in Decatur for about five years.
When looking back on her childhood in Ohio, it is easy to see how she went into education.
“I played with teacher’s manuals from grandma’s school as a kid,” Poynton said. “My mother and my grandmother are both educators. My grandmother was a teacher, then a principal, and my mom was a teacher for 32 years.”
She also got her teaching chops early by providing private music lessons in high school and college, where she had as many as 20 students per week.
“I think, between the family influence and then that experience of starting to work with kids one-on-one and doing the teaching, I feel like I probably knew by my junior year I would go into teaching,” she said.
Poynton is looking forward to working in Monticello, a place where she said her daughter has “had wonderful school experiences. And I know a lot of people already.”
She will need to get up to speed on the transportation end of her duties, and will be able to learn the ropes from retiring administrator Denise Troester.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, so it’s go to be right,” Poynton said.
Music in the family
Music is common in Poynton’s household, as the former music instructor is married to Robert “Bobby” Poynton, who croons with The Lettermen. She has a stepson, Bobby, and a sixth-grade daughter who already attends Monticello schools.
Poynton also enjoys helping out with the Monticello Farmers Market during the summer, and hopes to get back to “living at the pool” with her family during the warm weather.
Her educational background includes an original degree from the University of Akron in 1999. She followed that up with a master’s in administration at Concordia University. Poynton is also working online toward a special education endorsement from Western Illinois University.