Grant named South School principal when Bethel retires

Marianne Gillespie
mgillespie@timestoday.com
Shaun Grant

The changing of the guard at South School also comes with a switch for baseball fans.

The Illinois Valley Central District 321 School Board unanimously approved hiring Shaun Grant Tuesday night as South School principal when Mike Bethel retires at the end of the school year.

Bethel is known as a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan, but Grant favors the Chicago Cubs and is also a board member for Chillicothe Summer Youth Activities.

School officials informed the incoming principal after the meeting that he had big shoes to fill and cool costumes for Halloween are needed as Bethel always led the Halloween parade at the school.

Grant, a Chillicothe resident for six years, signed a three-year contract with the district, which begins July 1.

“I moved here for the school district,” Grant said.

He is currently principal of Princeville Grade School, which is pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and served in that capacity for the last three years. For the previous 12 years, he was employed by Peoria District 150 and ran the gamut from pre-K through 12th grade as a primary art and reading teacher and high school art teacher. He also was a wrestling and football coach and a principal.

He is an Eastern Illinois University graduate and earned a master’s degree at Bradley University.

He and his wife, Monica, have two girls, who are in second and fourth grades.

“My kids loved South,” he said, adding that he wants to instill in the youngest of the school district’s students to be “lifelong learners.”

With his family grounded in Chillicothe, Grant said he is ready for South School.

“I want to put my time into the community I live in,” Grant said.

Grant was one of 34 candidates who applied for the position, according to Superintendent Chad Allison. That number was whittled to nine and in early February, a committee of six — comprised of board members Steve Garrison and Donna Uebler, administrators Allison and Mossville Principal Brooke Geltmaker, and South School teachers Pody Goines and Cortney Angelo — interviewed them.

After narrowing the candidates further and more interviews, Grant was chosen.

 “We were truly impressed by many of the outstanding candidates who we interviewed for this position, but at each stage in the process, Mr. Grant stood out. He has the experience and knowledge that we were looking for as our next instructional leader at South School,” Allison said.