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New Festus Middle School Principal Hired

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Festus Public Schools  

1515 Mid-Meadow Lane Festus, Missouri  63028  Telephone: 636/937-4920             Fax: 636/937-8525


           Dr. Link Luttrell                  Mr. Nathan Holder                       Dr. Nicki Ruess

             Superintendent               Assistant Superintendent             Assistant Superintendent


Festus R-VI Hires New Middle School Principal


The Festus R-VI School District announces the hiring of a new middle school principal for the 2018-19 school year.  Mr. Joe Willis, who currently serves as building principal at Antonia Middle School, was unanimously selected by the Festus school board during its monthly meeting on February 21.


Mr. Willis has been principal at Antonia since 2010.  During his tenure there, Antonia has ranked first in the Fox C-6 School District and in Jefferson County in many MAP tested areas, and achievement scores were as high as in the top five percent of schools in Missouri.  The school’s ACT Explore and ACT ASPIRE scores were also the highest in the Fox district. 


Prior to his time at Antonia, he was Assistant Principal at Seckman Middle School, and also served as a teacher in both the Fox and Grandview school districts.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from Lindenwood University, a master’s degree from Missouri Baptist University, and a specialist’s degree from Southeast Missouri State University.


The middle school principal position is being vacated by Mrs. Tina Thebeau, who is retiring after this school year.  Twenty-two applicants applied for the position.  Eleven applicants were selected for an initial formal interview with Dr. Link Luttrell, superintendent, Dr. Nicki Ruess, assistant superintendent, and Mr. Nathan Holder, assistant superintendent.  Three applicants were selected to move on to the second round of interviews conducted by a panel of middle school staff members along with Dr. Ruess, and Mr. Holder.


Mr. Willis is very enthusiastic about joining the district.  “I’m excited to work with the phenomenal students, staff, and community of Festus Middle School,” he commented.  “We will work to continue the academic success that has been a yearly occurrence.  I want to empower students as leaders of our school to grow opportunities for them.”


"We are very excited to have Mr. Willis join our middle school team,” said Dr. Ruess.  “He brings knowledge and experience with him to continue to advance growth and improvement for all students as he begins his journey at Festus Middle School.  We are confident Mr. Willis will be a wonderful addition."


Dr. Luttrell added, “Mr. Willis is a successful school leader who has demonstrated a commitment to deepening the engagement of students in all that he does.  He has a strong history of effective communication and active engagement with students, families, and the community.  He will be a great addition to both Festus Middle School and the R-VI district.”