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November 26, 2003

East Richland Board President is Tops in State

Springfield-Dr. Gerald Mastio, President of the East Richland Community School District #1 (Richland County) is the 2003 recipient of the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award, as the state’s outstanding School Board President.  His nomination cites his achievements in creating an environment for academic excellence and providing equal opportunities for all students while overcoming challenges.

Since he was elected president of the East Richland Community Unit School District #1 School Board in 1999, Dr. Gerald Mastio has repeatedly demonstrated his outstanding skills as a leader.  The year of his election his district was already in a crisis.  Turmoil surrounded many of the administration’s actions and public confidence in the local board was eroding. To an observer the problems seemed almost insurmountable. However, Dr. Mastio saw hope in the midst of crisis.

Under his guidance, addressing of problems and conflicts began.  His board meetings were conducted with professionalism and order.  Parents and community members were encouraged to share their concerns.  Mutual respect was fostered and confidence restored. One of the district’s schools was recently recognized as one of 27 “Spotlight Schools” in the state – a designation reserved for high achieving schools with a high percentage of low-income students.

“Gerald Mastio’s passion for improving education and providing children with an environment conducive to successful learning is obvious when you see the changes within the district,” said State Superintendent of Education Robert Schiller.  “He is a true leader and an ultimate professional.”

Dr. Mastio is credited with an increase in the rate of high school graduates, creating a volunteer program that utilizes community leaders as mentors for at-risk students, and making the district a lighthouse district for Southeastern and all of Illinois.  East Richland Elementary School was recently named an Illinois Spotlight School by the Illinois State Board of Education and the district also received the 2003 International Reading Award for Exemplary Schools.

The Burroughs Award was created in 1991 and named after the late ISBE chairman.  Created in 1991, it is intended to recognize extraordinary leadership on behalf of education at the local level, especially through characteristics similar to those shown by Tom Burroughs.  The criteria for this award recognize the following three areas of accomplishment:

  • Leadership on behalf of improved student learning and educational excellence,
  • Leadership on behalf of equal educational opportunities, and
  • Leadership in resolving a crisis or major difficulty.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777