BY MARK HOSKINS
With the retirement of Julie Healy as superintendent of St. Elmo Community Unit School District #202 effective on July 1, the school district needed to find a replacement. Back in March, the school board voted to hire Brownstown native Travis Portz to lead the district.
Portz, 36, is no stranger to the St. Elmo community or to the school district. “I attended Brownstown High School, but I took ag classes here in St. Elmo. Later I did some student teaching here as well, so I was already familiar with the school,” stated Portz, who graduated from Brownstown High School in 2004.
After high school, Portz attended Lake Land College and later Greenville University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 2008.
Soon, Portz got his first teaching job, working at Windsor Elementary school starting in 2009. Over the next seven years, he would teach fourth, fifth, and sixth grades before moving on to the Ramsey school district in 2016 where he was the principal of the grade school.
While teaching and working as an administrator, Portz continued his own education, earning a Master’s Degree in 2014 from Eastern Illinois University. He continued on at Eastern, earning his education specialty in 2018, which gave him licensure to become a superintendent.
As for his new job, Portz has no plans to come in drastically overall anything in district. “I am still kind of getting settled in and my goal is to just get to know everyone and build relationships with the staff, the students, and the parents.”
He noted how important those relationships can be within a school district. “I think it’s important to communicate and build those relationships in order to evaluate where we (the district) can improve and where we are already headed in the right direction.”
Portz described his greatest strength as an administrator as the willingness to listen and understand people. He stressed an open door policy he will have as superintendent for staff, students, and members of the community.
Outside of his life a an educator and administrator, Portz is also a family man. He lives in the country between St. Elmo and Brownstown with his wife Sara and their two children, Evan (8) and Grayson (4).
“I am just very excited to be here. It’s close to home for me and I am really looking forward to becoming a part of the community,” said Portz.