Andy Stumpf enrolled in college as a defensive end with plans to tackle a career in farming, but instead he called an audible that led to pay dirt.
“As part of our volunteer activities, I did some reading at a local elementary school,” he said. “I really enjoyed it and already had a passion for football. I thought coaching and teaching would be a great way to get into it.”
Now, Stumpf is the principal at Winchester Elementary/Junior High School in Illinois. He graduated from the Master of Science in Education in Educational Administration at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) in 2013.
“The district where I was working at the time posted a curriculum coordinator position,” he said. “You could apply without your master’s degree in administration, but you would have to get it in so many months. I started the cohort late, doubled up on classes and got it done in 18 months.”
It’s a good thing he did. After embarking on a career in administration, Stumpf was named the Two Rivers Region and State Middle School Principal of the Year by the Illinois Principals Association for 2021.
“I was selected to go on to Washington D.C. for the national principal of the year contest,” he said. “It was postponed because of COVID-19. I wasn’t one of the three finalists they announced, but it’s still pretty cool to be one of the top 50 principals in the country.
“One of the big reasons I won the award was because of the school where I work and the building leadership team, which helped me move to the next level.”
Stumpf was born in Calhoun County, Illinois, and raised in Carrollton. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching at Monmouth College after a successful playing career for the Fighting Scots in 2004.
“I happened to see the master’s degree program in administration at SIUE,” he said. “We had a cohort that took the classes at a high school. I was taking some leadership roles as a teacher at the time. I was also a coach and a volunteer firefighter.”
Taking night classes helped Stumpf fit school into his busy schedule. He has five children — Ella (16), Charlie (14), Maggie (10), Avelyn (7) and Atticus (5) — and a fiancée, Letta.
“There were a lot of great things that I learned in the master’s degree program at SIUE,” he said. “I especially enjoyed the School Law course. There are so many different aspects to the legal side of education.
“One of our main professors was a retired Alton High principal. She provided a lot of insight and real-life examples of things she had gone through. It was a tremendous help knowing someone had been in the trenches for many years teaching us their ways before we got there.”
After a stint as a junior and senior high principal at Brussels Community Unit School District 42 for two years, Stumpf landed his current position prior to the 2016-17 school year.
“I have been here for six years, and I love what I do,” he said. “It was a great move. I still enjoy working with kids.”
The Place to Be
Earning a master’s degree was extra special for Stumpf because he is the first person in his immediate family to earn an advanced degree.
“My family and friends were very excited,” he said. “They’ve always been supportive in whatever I decided to do. They are still supportive because I spend a lot of hours and days and weekends away.”
Although a career in farming did not come to fruition, Stumpf still enjoys the best of both worlds while living in his home state.
“We have a family farm that I enjoy spending time on,” he said. “It’s been in the family for many generations. I also enjoy hunting and other outdoor activities.”
With several years of experience, a master’s degree and a pair of big awards under his belt, Stumpf is eager to take on a new challenge in his career.
“I hope to start superintendent courses in the near future, with the goal of being a superintendent before I retire,” he said. “It’s exciting.”
Stumpf believes that returning to higher education paved the way for his success as an administrator — and is still paying dividends today.
“I absolutely got great value out of the program at SIUE,” he said. “I still stay in touch today with a lot of the good people I worked with in the classes. They help me out as much as possible. It was a great program.”