The Monroe City R-1 School District (MCR-1) will be starting the 2020-21 academic year with changes. The halls will see new faces in leadership in the high school building. Superintendent Dr. Tracy Bottoms will enter his twenty-fifth year at the Montgomery County School District resigning his role at MCR-1. Dr. Bottoms stated, “This was a tough decision to leave, I have enjoyed watching the success of the students over the past four years,” adding, “But I am looking forward to being more centrally located in the state.” The Montgomery County School District is double the size of MCR-1 and is close to both St. Louis and Columbia.
Bottoms shared his last official day for the school district will be June 30. He has enjoyed watching the addition of the alternative school grow in the district, stating, “I believe this option has helped kids who may have struggled otherwise get their diploma. This gives them a fighting chance as they walk out the door to join the work force. Being a part of establishing that opportunity makes me smile.” Bottoms also shared some of his greatest memories here at MCR-1 include developing the Flex Program for students to continue with school and work. He stated, “Through this program we have been able to build great business partnerships with businesses in the community and help students be better prepared for working after high school.”
Bottoms is happy to have been able to help with passing the bond issue for the district, stating, “While not everyone may be excited about the increase in taxes, I see this as a great success for the school. This bond gives voters the ability to extend the bond every five years making the district eligible for $5 million dollars without increasing taxes. I believe that will be a great help in upgrading the school district’s needs.”
Although the time is nearing for Bottoms to close this chapter here at MCR-1, he isn’t quite done yet. He explained he has been busy working on a summer school option for Elementary students. Bottoms stated, “The students will be out of school a total of six months in August. This is a long break for children to miss educational instruction. We are looking at possibly July if there is enough interest.”
Bottoms will be replaced by Superintendent Dr. Tony DeGrave. Bottoms shared, “I was assigned to be his mentor when he was at Marion County.” DeGrave is not new the MCR-1 School District. He is a MCHS graduate, previously taught at MCHS and coached football for the Panthers. DeGrave shared, “It is truly an honor for me to be selected as the next Superintendent of Monroe City. I look forward to serving the students and community as Monroe City is a special place with great people! If feels great to be a Panther again.”
The high school will see a new face as well next year. Principal John Fortney has turned in his resignation, reaching the long-time career goal of becoming a Superintendent. Replacing Fortney is Brandi VanDelft, assistant principal at the Moberly Middle School. VanDelft stated, “I’m very excited to be high school principal at Monroe City and already feel welcomed by the many people that have reached out to me. I know that MCHS is a respected school with a great staff and awesome students. I can’t wait to build those relationships and get started this next school year. The VanDelft’s are ready to make the move and be a part of the community.”
Fortney shared about his time at MCHS, stating, “I will miss Monroe City, which has been very opened armed and welcoming. It is a bittersweet move, I will always love this community and it will hold a special place in my heart. Becoming a superintendent is a dream being realized.” Fortney will fill the shoes of DeGrave, as the new Superintendent of Van-Far in Vandalia. Fortney shared his time here at MCHS, explaining, “My greatest memories are not so much the out loud accomplishments of state titles, but those quiet things that not everyone would know. They include a student being the first male in his family to graduate high school and is continuing to college. A young woman who worked hard to reunite with her father and thanks the school for supporting her. Being on the frontline as we support families with whatever struggle they are having with their child. Those are the victories that we are winning every day, when we were in school.” Fortney shared his role from principal to superintendent will be an adjustment, stating, “I will miss the daily contact with kids. I have a great example in Tracy Bottoms for how to maintain that connection with kids, but it won’t be the same. I love education and believe in our mission, down to my core. As a superintendent, I will have a much different role, but my focus on supporting education will not be any less. My job is to now impact students K-12, not just one building and I am excited for that opportunity. I look forward to being able to see the entire process of student growth and being able to positively impact that from the superintendent’s chair.”