July 1, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools sworn in
EDWARDSVILLE — Robert Werden took his oath of office Monday morning and became Madison County’s first Republican Regional Superintendent of Schools.
The Honorable David Dugan, judge of the Third Judicial Circuit Court, swore in Werden. His wife, Nancy, and children Bobby and Remington surrounded him.
“I’m having a surreal moment,” Werden said. “It’s been eight months since I was elected and I’m still finding it hard to believe this farm kid from Rural Route 1, Box 60 Dorsey, Ill. would be given the chance to speak to you all today is now the Regional Superintendent of Madison County schools.”
Edwardsville High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) students led students in ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance. The superintendent’s swearing-in is held to comply with the state of Illinois’ official calendar year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.
“I’m going to try to not get to emotional, but it’s hard,” Werden said. “I’m honored and humbled to be here today. Thank you everyone for showing up.”
The audience, which filled the County Board room, included Chairman Kurt Prenzler, Treasurer Chris Slusser, Auditor Rick Faccin, State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza, Sheriff John Lakin and former ROE Superintendent Robert Daiber, as well as former teachers, student’s, family members and the ROE staff.
“Who would of thought this time or any time over the last 50 years that we would have heard these two things — the St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup Champions and we have a Republican Madison County superintendent,” Werden joked.
Werden said he is thankful for everyone who believed in him — family, friends and those who supported him.
“That is what children need every day,” he said.
Prior to being elected, Werden served more than 24 years in education as a teacher, coach, FFA advisor and school administrator. He said for 15 years he worked alongside his wife in the Staunton School District and missed riding with her after he began working in Edwardsville School District.
Werden said he is very proud of growing up in Prairietown and continues to be influenced by the values of the small town and where people work together.
“I’ve lived 90 percent of my life in Prairietown,” he said.
He said as he looked around the room and saw people whom he’s known his entire life, people he’s recently got to know and others he’s only read about in the newspapers.
“Now I will get to interact with them and talk to them face to face,” he said. “There are people from both political parties who are working hard to make our county a better place.”
Werden said he considers himself the Merle Haggard of education.
“I’m the working man’s educator,” he said.
He said as a teacher he would often take problem kid, put them to work in a classroom and watch them grow as a student as they become more confident.
Werden said he would try his best to be a true public servant.
“Almost everyone has an opinion as to what needs to be fixed in our schools,” he said. “I ask when the last time you were in a school was. Please take time to talk to a teacher, administrator or myself before you criticize too much.”
He said these are changing times and children today are not learning the same as students did in the past and it will take everyone working together to make a difference.
“Chalkboards are being replaced by smartboards,” he said. “The world is rapidly changing and our education is changing as well. At the end of the day I see a lot of concerned people working hard to educate our children.”