University News

Forever Home: John Meixner

October 28, 2019


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Video by Phil Weiss, BA '98, MS '17, University Television

NOTE: This is the seventh installment in a series, "Forever Home," which features video interviews with WIU alumni who have chosen to make Macomb (and/or WIU) their home after graduation.

By Jodi Pospeschil, MA '15


MACOMB, IL – John Meixner's career path to the education field was not a direct one.

The current regional superintendent of schools for Fulton, Hancock, McDonough and Schuyler counties began his time at Western Illinois University unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. As a proud Leatherneck alumnus, Meixner now offers his personal story to students who are facing the same uncertainty about their future goals.

The Chicago native first came to Macomb at age 7, when his father, Robert Meixner, also a WIU grad, was named principal at Edison School. He came with his father and mother and his brothers, fellow WIU grads Steve '93 (communication) and Brian '96 (management), and brother Kevin. All four brothers graduated from Macomb High School.

Meixner received his bachelor's degree in teacher education/kinesiology in 1995, his master's degree in educational administration in 2005 and his principal endorsement from WIU. He said he began taking classes at Western as a way to determine what he wanted to do with his future.

"It was the hometown University, obviously, and, at the time, I really had no idea what I wanted to do; it was everything from being in law enforcement to some outdoor profession, like a park ranger," he said. "Finally, I got involved in youth coaching and that really triggered it for me."

It was the teacher education program and coaching at local school districts that guided him toward teaching. But he credits the academic advisors at WIU with helping him attain his goals.

"When I first started going to school at Western, I didn't do too well, because I didn't know what I wanted to do," he said. "One of the things I vividly remember is seeing some of the counselors at the time. They never got down on me and they always stayed very positive. When I had the opportunity to take the teacher education program, things just lit up. I really excelled from that point on."

Meixner credits his passion for the program to the professors who encouraged him and took an interest in his success.

"The teacher ed program has really excellent resources," he said.

Meixner shares his educational experience with students any opportunity he gets as a way to be an encouragement to them. He hopes students who are struggling to figure out their next step after high school can benefit from his story.

"I tell them it took me nine years to get my undergraduate degree," he said. "They're kind of almost stunned that it took me that long."

In addition to his time at WIU, Meixner's father, Robert, got his educational specialist master's degree from Western in 1993; and his daughter, Audrey, got her bachelor's degree in recreation, park and tourism administration in 2018.

After his graduation from Western, Meixner took a job coaching and teaching in the area, as well as serving as an athletic director. He then returned to WIU to get his principal's endorsement and coached and taught in Macomb, Colchester, Industry and Southeastern school districts. He later became the assistant regional superintendent and was eventually elected the regional superintendent.

Meixner stays connected to the WIU campus, serving on the Alumni Council, and the College of Education Advisory Board and the Performing Arts Society (PAS) Board. He also worked on getting local elementary students to campus to see PAS programming throughout the academic year.

"I've been trying my best to do everything I can to get people to come to campus," he said. "The Youth Performing Arts Series has been a real benefit to the school districts in the area."

In the community, Meixner serves on the Macomb Chamber of Commerce Board and Legislative Committee; the board of the Macomb Choir Boosters; as vice-chair of the Macomb Quality of Life Committee; on the Workforce Board and Esports Board; on Teen Court and on his church's Building Committee

Through his professional post, Meixner said there are many partnership's with WIU's College of Education, including continuing education offerings and internships and student teaching at local schools.

When Meixner is in the community, he said he believes it's important to wear purple to show his WIU pride. He sees it as an opportunity to promote the University and that he's a proud alumnus.

"It's always a conversation starter," he said. "The town of Macomb and WIU, those two mesh so well. They mean so much to each other too; they go hand in hand. I try to promote as much as possible. The community, in my mind, is just one of those perfect situations where the quality of life – you just can't get much better."

Meixner said he has been lucky to have job opportunities that allowed him to stay in Macomb.

"I wouldn't trade being in Macomb for anything," he said. "I really enjoy staying in Macomb and staying in Western Illinois here."

As he has gone through his career, Meixner said he has noticed a growing network of WIU grads among his colleagues and coworkers.

"There are a lot of people in the western part of the state, that have been touched by either the teacher ed program or the educational leadership program out here," he said.

For more information about WIU, visit wiu.edu.


Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (JK-Pospeschil@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations