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SIU honors Booth as Distinguished Alum

  • From left at Friday's ceremony are Larry Mieldezis, president of the SIU Alumni Association; CCHS principal Daniel Booth; and SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.

    From left at Friday's ceremony are Larry Mieldezis, president of the SIU Alumni Association; CCHS principal Daniel Booth; and SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.
    Geoffrey Ritter photo

  • Geoffrey Ritter photoBooth shares a hug with former student Danielle Lorentz, who introduced him at Friday's ceremony at Morris Library.

    Geoffrey Ritter photoBooth shares a hug with former student Danielle Lorentz, who introduced him at Friday's ceremony at Morris Library.

 
By Geoffrey Ritter
gritter@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 5/3/2018 7:18 AM

Daniel Booth keeps finding opportunity in Carbondale.

Hailing from Peoria, Booth came to Carbondale as many young SIU students do, but the unique path he is taking through the community -- first as a college student, then as a teacher and principal at Carbondale Community High School, and now as the newly hired superintendent of Carbondale District 95 -- was recognized Friday by the university that first brought him to town.

Booth was honored Friday with this year's Young Alumni Achievement Award during the SIU Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony at the university's Morris Library. Also honored were alumni William Doerr for humanitarian impact and Bonnie Garner for career achievement.

Booth, who earned his bachelor degree in 2006 and his master's in 2010 from SIU, said he "quickly fell in love with the community" after arriving in Carbondale, but at first he knew it only as a college student.

Once he began student teaching at CCHS, however, Booth said he began to see greater depth in the college town he thought he knew. That appreciation grew as he was hired on at CCHS first as full-time faculty, and later as assistant principal, dean of students and principal. He's now in his seventh year in the top job.

Through it all, Booth said he was eager to contribute to the community that had given so much to him. Now, as he prepares to take over as the superintendent of the city's elementary school district in July, Booth said he continues to look for ways he can help make Carbondale better.

"I relish that opportunity every single day," Booth told the audience at Friday's ceremony. "That opportunity allows me to make a difference, to have another way to lead in the city of Carbondale."

He has done so by being both a motivator and willing to engage with others, said former student Danielle Lorentz, who introduced Booth at the ceremony. Under Booth's leadership, CCHS was recognized in 2013 as a Democracy School by the Illinois Civic Mission Coalition, and students also raised more than $4,000 to build water wells in Africa. During his tenure, the school also has been recognized as a top school by U.S. News and World Report and Newsweek magazines.

"He strives to give students the tools and platform that they need to excel," said Lorentz, now an SIU sophomore in communication studies. "Mr. Booth is truly a remarkable man. Aside from being one who encourages, one who motivates and one who is very giving of his time, he also knows the value of balance. He's willing to have fun. He does not sit on the sidelines, but he also participates, whether it be pep rallies or events such as dancing with the faculty."

This tendency to engage has kept Booth involved with the community outside the school's walls. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Booth serves on the board of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and is active with the Rotary Club of Carbondale-Breakfast. He also is involved the SIU Advisory Board for Teacher Education and the Illinois Principals Association, for which he serves as state legislative chair.

On top of all this, Booth balances a young family; he and his wife, Ashley, have two children, Jaxon and Delaney. In accepting the award, Booth thanked his wife for her patience as he prepares to take on a new job at District 95 -- "a position I'm taking not because I'm looking for a promotion, not because I'm looking for a title change," he said, "but because I want to make a difference in Carbondale."

Booth also gave thanks to God for the gifts he was given, his parents for implanting a spirit of leadership within him, and Carbondale for providing him the opportunity to use them together. He also acknowledged the hard work of faculty and staff at CCHS.

"I can honestly say Carbondale Community High School is an amazing school -- not because of me as principal, but because of the teachers that we have walking around those halls every day," he said. "My job is to support them."

 
 
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