Superintendent

DR. JEFF THAKE, SUPERINTENDENT OF WILLISTON PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT #1

I am beginning my 26th year in public education.  I am beginning my 10th year as a school superintendent, and my 3rd year at WPSD #1.  Prior to becoming a superintendent, I served 5 years as a high school principal, 2 years as a high school associate principal, 2 years as a middle school dean of students, and 7 years in the classroom.

I earned my bachelor’s degree (Music Education) from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL.  My master’s degree is from Aurora University in educational leadership.  I recently earned my doctorate from Aurora University.  My dissertation is titled:  An Examination of Rural Students Engagement with College and Career Planning.

Professionally, I was one of the first of 28 superintendents to earn my national certification.  I have been an active member of 4 elite cohorts and consortiums through the American Association of School Administrators for the past 3 years:  AASA Personalized Learning Cohort, AASA Digital Consortium, AASA Redefining Ready Cohort, and I recently completed the AASA Urban Superintendents Academy through the University of Southern California (USC).  Most recently, I was nominated and accepted into an elite international group called NCERT (National Center for Education Research and Technology). 

The educational transformations we were able to implement in my last position attracted numerous accolades, including presentations all over the United States at educational leadership conferences.  Huffington Post and Education Talk Radio also were interested in our journey to 1:1 and personalized learning.  After 2 years in WPSD #1, we have outlined our plan to personalized learning for grades K-12 that involves becoming 1:1 with Chromebooks, the emergence of the Coyote Academy for gifted and talented, the construction of the first of its kind ASB Innovation Academy for grades 5-7 that will eventually become grades 5-8, and a high school that is designing and augmenting career pathways for students through many community partnerships.  Our high school, in collaboration with the city of Williston, launched its first annual job fair and career expo for high school students.  In the past 2 years, I have been asked to speak at numerous community events and civic organizations as well as at the state and national level about our vision for personalized learning.  I’ve had the honor to present two years in a row at the Governor’s Innovation Summit. 

While in Illinois as a superintendent, my peers elected me to serve on an advisory board to the Illinois State Board of Education and the AASA Governing Board. 

I am married to my wife (Melissa) of 24 years.  Melissa has her degree in elementary education.  My son (Logan) graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL in June, 2019.  Logan will begin his teaching  as an elementary Physical Education Teacher and coach  in Wyoming, IL in the Stark County School District. Logan also played 4 years of college baseball for Knox College, as a left-handed pitcher.

My interests include educational research, baseball, basketball, football and hockey.  I enjoy playing golf when I am able.  I still play the trumpet.  I am known simply as blues trumpet player “Jeff from Chicago” in the French Quarter in New Orleans and on Beale Street in Memphis.  In Williston, I am currently playing in the Williston State College City Band when I am able.

You may contact me at jeffrey.thake@willistonschools.org.