MONTICELLO – The next principal of Monticello High School planned to become an architect.
But his mother, Susan, knew better.
“The day my parents dropped me off, the first day I moved into the dorm, my mom was like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to be a teacher and coach?’ “said Travis Courson. “So she saw it in me. I didn’t see it at the time. »
Fast forward, and the current associate principal of Urbana High School has now been in teaching for 22 years – 21 at Urbana – and will become principal of Monticello High School this summer after being approved by the school board this week. .
It will be like coming home to Courson, who graduated from Monticello in 1989 and lives in the Piatt County community.
“He graduated from Monticello and lives the line, “once a Sage, always a Sage,” said current principal Adam Clapp, who will become superintendent on July 1.
“I’m just thrilled to join a really strong district,” Courson said. “They just have extremely high standards. But what has always impressed me is the holistic approach to the student, whether in the classroom, outside the classroom, in the sense of athletics, theater and marching band, has always been strong.
A resident of Monticello, his family dates back a few generations to Piatt County, which was apparent to his two children as they frequented Monticello.
“Pictures of my parents hang on the wall at high school,” Courson said. “And aunts and uncles, and my cousins.
“And my kids always thought it was cool to be able to come down and see the pictures of Grandma and Grandpa Courson on the wall, their graduating class,” he said of his parents, Terry and Susan. “There’s a lot of pride there.”
He looks forward to the change but said it would be just as difficult to say goodbye to Urbana, where he started 21 years ago as a teacher and coach, and has been an administrator for the last 12.
“It’s a great place. I struggled with ‘Am I ready to go?’ because there are great people out there,” he said. “It’s not me who wants to leave. It’s more about me having the opportunity to do my dream job, which is to come back to my old high school and join a great team here.
“Monticello is strong, but Urbana is just as strong. It’s just the work I can’t say no to,” Courson said. “It’s more about having the opportunity to do my dream job, to work at the school I graduated from.”
Despite his mother’s intuition on that first day of college, Courson had no plans to go into teaching at first. Her focus as an architect shifted to a degree in community health.
He also fell hard for coaching when he and a friend helped coach fifth- and sixth-grade women’s basketball for college credit at Southern Illinois University.
Courson went on to coach college basketball at Heron, then women’s basketball at Heritage High School and men’s basketball at Peoria Notre Dame.
At the age of 27, he admitted mom was right and went back to school to earn his teaching degree at Illinois State University.
After a year at Notre Dame, he went to Urbana, where he had worked ever since.
Education is now family. His wife, Amy, is a counselor at the Pavilion Foundation School in Champaign. Her daughter is currently graduating from teaching middle school English at ISU, and her son – a Monticello senior – is considering his options, including education.
“I am blessed to be able to return to my high school and give back to the school and the community that has given so much to my entire family: my grandparents, my parents, my siblings, aunts and uncles, my two children and my wife, says Courson.
Looking back to that first day of college, Courson is glad his mother planted the seed of teaching in his mind.
“Either you choose the profession, and more often the profession chooses you,” he said. “You have to be wired in a certain way to work with all ages. My mother saw it in me, and finally I saw it in myself.