Two-Time Alumnus Dr. Tron Young Earns 2020 Illinois Principal of the Year Award

Dr. Tron Young went from the inspired to the inspirer.

“I wanted to be an educator because of my fifth-grade teacher, Judy Truitt,” he said. “She was a phenomenal teacher whom I still follow as my mentor, mother and teacher today. She invests in all of her kids. I was inspired to be like her.”

Mission accomplished. Dr. Young was named Middle School Principal of the Year for the state by the Illinois Principal Association in 2020. Last year, the Joseph Arthur Middle School principal was also the Illinois National Association of Secondary School Principals’ nominee.

“They announced the award at a big assembly at my school,” he said. “Then, we shut down for COVID-19. Everything was virtual recognition, which was still nice.”

In 2019, Dr. Young graduated from the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Ten years earlier, he completed the Master of Science in Education in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Principal Preparation program at SIUE.

“I got the master’s degree because of the convenience,” he said. “SIUE did a cohort in Centralia, where I was teaching.

“It was an evening program where they understood we were all working adults. The program was tailored to support us as teachers and leaders at the time. It was very flexible.”

The Doctor Is In

Dr. Young attended Centralia High School, where he set out on a path to become an educator. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern Illinois University in 2004. Eight years later, he became a principal.

“The information I learned in the master’s degree program at SIUE was applicable,” he said. “They were intentional about making sure we got real-life experiences and examples.

“They taught theory but then asked us to try it. We had to look at school budgets and activities funds in the finance course. We saw it in action, which I enjoyed.”

EDAD 500: Introduction to School Leadership was Dr. Young’s favorite course in the MSEd. in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Principal Preparation curriculum.

“We learned that if you abuse your power, you lose your power,” he said. “But if you lead by example and inspire people, you gain that power to get them to follow you. There were nuggets of wisdom that I liked.”

Given his experience in the master’s degree program, Dr. Young had no reservations about returning to his alma mater for a hybrid program that was primarily on campus.

“With the relationships and the connections that I made with my master’s degree program, I looked at SIUE for a doctoral program,” he said. “I am glad that I did.”

Family Tradition

Making his family and friends proud is becoming a habit for Dr. Young. He and his wife, Keisha, have two children — Tytan (4) and Lennex (2). His brother, Bryan, is also a two-time SIUE graduate and an educator in Illinois.

“We graduated with our master’s degrees together, which was awesome,” he said. “We did separate cohorts, but we walked on the same day. My family is very supportive of me furthering my education.”

Dr. Young is proud of his career accomplishments — especially for earning top middle-school principal in Illinois honors. Although his higher education is complete, he remains inspired to lead.

“I do some speaking on the side, and I love motivating people and helping them achieve their goals and fulfill their desires, whether it’s personally or through school or leadership,” he said. “I like going in and helping schools create environments for kids to thrive.”

The experience at SIUE played a role in shaping Dr. Young’s administrative career. He is proud to call himself an alumnus full of Cougar pride.

“The master’s degree program opened up opportunities in my career,” he said. “It prepared me for a leadership role and to step into a principalship. I got great value out of the program.”

Judy Truitt must be smiling.

Learn more about SIUE’s online MSEd. in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Principal Preparation program.

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