Young Named Board Chair of Hoyleton Youth & Family Services

Dr. Tron Young

Dr. Tron Young has been elected board chair of Hoyleton Youth & Family Services, based in Fairview Heights Ill. Young has been a Hoyleton board member since 2019. Former chair Ann Ferguson-Stephens recently completed her term.

Young brings 19 years of experience and knowledge as a middle school teacher and principal to Hoyleton. He also brings with him a commitment and passion to help, support and empower youth and families in his community. His goals as an educator are in complete alignment with Hoyleton’s mission. When asked what he hopes to accomplish in his role as board chair he responded, “To help Hoyleton continue to grow as a leading provider of restorative care. I plan to ask questions that determine not where we are but where we want to go.”

Be the thermostat, not the thermometer, is Young’s mantra. He references this in speaking engagements with fellow educators, parents, students, and in his podcast that is titled with this mantra. The analogy comes from one of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches, where he argues that we must change society rather than be changed by it.

Young is passionate about being the change. “I try to show my students each day how to create an environment that can be most successful for them,” Young said. “When you are the thermostat you are in control of what you hope to achieve.”

Young also makes sure his middle school students know it is okay to make mistakes, get frustrated or have a bad day. “I tell them, ‘When you are in my school or my principal’s office, you can be a kid.’ I let them be sad, happy silly or mad. This type of interaction gives me the opportunity to connect with them on their terms,” he said.

His approach with his students has many similarities to the Cornell University CARE practice model that followed at Hoyleton. CARE provides a framework for keeping relationships at the center and guides everything Hoyleton does.

Young grew up in Centralia, Ill., so has known about Hoyleton since he was young. “I grew up with friends and family who worked there, many who are still there today,” Young said.

It wasn’t until he joined our Board in 2019 that he realized the full scope of Hoyleton’s services. “Hoyleton is a true wraparound agency, with services and resources to support the whole family,” Young said. “I believe this type of care is what is needed to make a real difference.”

“To make a difference, you have to do things that others may not think to do, to get the results that other are not able to get,” Young added.

In 2020 he was named Middle School Principal of the Year by the Illinois Principal Association. “They announced the award at a big assembly at my school, Joseph Arthur Middle School in O’Fallon, and then we shut down for COVID-19!” Young said. The 2020 school year was quite a challenge for teachers across the globe, but Young persevered and in 2021, he was recognized again as the National Association of Secondary School Principals Distinguished Principal of the Year. Other accolades include the Pacesetter Award through Kaskaskia College, the Illinois Education Association Bob Haisman Teacher of the Year, 100 Black Men United Educator of the Year, and Regional Middle School Principal of the Year Awards.

Young said this type of recognition opened doors and allowed him to be part of high-level conversations about the future of education. He identifies the biggest challenge in education as “adults and social media, and that parents and other educators must understand that what worked previously will not work today.

“Our kids are growing up surrounded by social media and advanced technology,” he said. “They had to continue to learn during a pandemic. The world is very different for them. Teachers are no longer the keeper of knowledge, students can find knowledge anywhere these days. It is our job to show them what they can do with it.”

Hoyleton’s work has always been centered on helping and empowering those who are in need and Young is well-equipped to take the lead in this journey. He carries the right blend of empathy and authority, along with an evident love for education and his community, all of which are integral in successfully spearheading Hoyleton’s board and overall organization.

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