New principal named at High School of St. Thomas More

CHAMPAIGN — Longtime Champaign County educator and administrator Jeff Starwalt of Mahomet has been appointed as the new principal at the High School of St. Thomas More.

Larry DeBrock, president of school's board of trustees, announced Thursday that Starwalt will succeed interim Principal Mike Scholz, effective July 1.

Scholz has taken a job at the new Father McGivney Catholic High School in Maryville.

DeBrock said he is excited about Starwalt's hire.

DeBrock said it's evident that Starwalt has a love for students and education. Starwalt also has a strong background of faith, which is important when working at a Catholic high school, he said.

DeBrock said Starwalt is known as an organized person who works well with students and parents.

"Our first interest is the students," DeBrock said.

Even before Starwalt was hired, DeBrock said he knew him, as they both worship at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Champaign.

"He believes in the vision of St. Thomas More," DeBrock said. "He understands the mission of turning out great citizens that are well-educated."

Starwalt, his wife, Wendy, and their three children live in Mahomet.

A life-long resident of Champaign County, Starwalt brings 25 years of academic experience to the Catholic high school.

A former administrator for the Mahomet-Seymour school district and a member of the Illinois Principals Association, Starwalt has a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois, a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Eastern Illinois University and an advanced certificate in educational administration from the UI.

Starwalt said a longtime Unity High School teacher, the late Bob Aimone, was the biggest influence on his faith and education as a young man.

"Not a day goes by when I don't think of Mr. Aimone and the example of faith he set for his students," Starwalt said in a written release. "The opportunity to combine my Catholic faith with my love of teaching is very appealing to me. My daily purpose will be to have the same spiritual impact on the students at St. Thomas More that Mr. Aimone had on me.

"The High School of St. Thomas More has an excellent team of faculty and staff, talented and motivated students, and a board of trustees with a strong commitment to Catholic education. I'm excited to be part of such a terrific team."

Enrollment at the High School of St. Thomas More is at 295, according to Kay Reiser, the school's director of advancement. Reiser said 100 percent of the high school's 2012 graduating class are continuing their education at colleges and universities.

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