Joshua W. Stafford

Joshua W. Stafford

School Superintendent

It is my pleasure to serve as the school superintendent for Vienna. I have served in the district since 2004 and it has been exciting to be a part of the Vienna Team!  This team is always committed to providing the best possible opportunities for children and young adults in our community.

My door is always open. I view my role as being the person that helps to remove hurdles and obstacles so that our teachers, staff, parents, and students can be successful, which in turn makes our entire community successful.

Growing up I worked for my family's farm businesses and learned a great deal about management and hands on hard work. While working full time jobs I pursued my education with the completion of associate degrees at Shawnee Community College, a bachelor's degree at Murray State University in business administration, a master's degree and principal's endorsement at McKendree University, completed my superintendent's endorsement and educational specialist degree at Eastern Illinois University, and earned my doctorial degree from McKendree University. While I count it a blessing to have had the opportunity to attend these great higher education institutions I am most grateful to be a graduate of both Vienna Grade and Vienna High School.

I serve on various committees, groups, and boards both at the state and national level that address educational policy and advocacy.  I am working with the Southern Illinois Future Teachers Coalition (SIFTC), Scaling Educational Pathways in Illinois, Pathways to Prosperity Institute which is an intuitive of Jobs for the Future (JFF) and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Advance Illinois, Equity First Superintendents, the Partnership for Resilience/Resilient Southern Illinois which is working with the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard, Stand for Children as policy fellow on dual credit access and quality, the Illinois Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (ILACEP), National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), the Illinois Interactive Report Card at Northern Illinois University users group, am an active member of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), the Illinois High School District Organization (IHSDO), Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, and a member of the Illinois Association of Christian Administrators (IACA). I also enjoy the opportunities to guest lecture in classes at Eastern Illinois University, McKendree University, and University of Illinois about various topics in education including finance, public relations, and curriculum.

Student safety has always been a priority for schools around the world and it is also a continuously moving target. In recent years this has meant providing for a comprehensive approach of wrap around services to ensure that the whole child and family is supported. We have embarked on many efforts including quarterly school safety meetings (Johnson County Cabinet for Children and Youth), involving multiple agencies and stakeholders, expansion of school based counseling service, facilities related improvements, trauma informed and sensitive training for staff, along with an enhanced school resource officer (SRO) program. I have been actively involved in each of these initiatives. One point of involvement has been becoming a trained, fully sworn, certified law enforcement officer. This process started in April 2018 and since that time I have attended the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) Police Academy along with all other required training. You will likely not see me in a police uniform, because the goal of my participation in the training was not to replace anyone in the SRO program, but to provide additional understanding and coverage in case of a shortage along with building a better bridge, understandings, and partnerships between law enforcement and schools around the state for the sack of students and families. This relationship has allowed for better local practices and a more informed policy discussion.

Being a native of Johnson County also allows me to serve in various community roles as well, which include service on the SI NOW board (formerly SI Bridges to the Future) which covers the southern 17 counties, One Shawnee Regional Community Development Board which covers Illinois House District 118, Create Bridges, Little Egypt Emmaus and Chrysalis Camps, service on the Eagle House Ministry Board, and being a youth leader at Fellowship Baptist Church, which is the church that I grew up in.

In addition to seeing our students locally thrive I have also been involved with missions, both internationally, including India, Haiti, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras, and in the states, which allows me to see school and life in other parts of the world. These experiences fuel my passion to ensure that we "strive to inspire students to become positive, lifelong learners" and also provide students with experiences that allow for them to be equipped for "a global and multicultural society."

Joshua W. Stafford
School Superintendent

Brief Biography
Dr. Stafford grew up in Southern Illinois working for his family's farm businesses and learned a great deal about management and hands-on hard work. While working full time he pursued his education in business administration, which led to many opportunities, including serving as school superintendent in Vienna. He has served in the school district since 2004. Under Stafford’s leadership, Vienna has been noted both regionally and throughout the nation for its strong early college program and expansion of initiatives connecting all students to meaningful career paths. “We must provide training in our K-12 systems that not only give students the opportunity to be outstanding mathematicians and English majors, but also teaches them tradable skills in every industry that has a high demand for workers. Welders, nurses, informational technology people, and many other professions are in demand and we are doing everything that we can to equip students to walk out of high school into the world of work,” shared Stafford. He also serves in various regional, statewide, and national initiatives dedicated to education policy and advocacy. Joshua is active with various local boards and committees and is a youth leader at Fellowship Baptist Church.

Additional Biographical Information
Under Dr. Stafford’s leadership Vienna has been noted both regionally and throughout the state for their strong early college programs. Illinois has made great progress to increasing equitable access to dual credit and early college programs and Vienna has been a voice in advancing these policies. In many ways, Illinois serves as a exemplar with its historic Dual Credit Quality Act, model partnership agreement, and professional development plan in order to better increase equitable access for all students.

Vienna is an early college high school offering over 125 dual credit hours on its master schedule in cooperation with three Illinois community colleges. Each year Vienna gradates any where from 7% to over 17% of it seniors not only with a high school diploma, but also an associate's degree. While this is a big highlight and easy to garnish attention, the more important accomplishment has been the correction for the need of remedial/development course work post high school. Vienna's senior classes have had as few as 9% of students needing remedial/developmental course work.

This partnership additionally is allowing students in senior high school to earn in excess of 2,000 college credit hours each year. These partnerships have created efficiency with tax dollars and drastically reduced the need for student loan debt. Dr. Stafford says, “The outstanding achievements of our students in early college programing are made possible by the hard work and dedication of our teachers and staff that have proven their willingness to put in work, research, and commitment so that our students are provided with the best possible opportunities to prepare for their future. As students see and understand the value of what our staff has worked so hard to offer, they, in turn, step up to the plate and demonstrate the same hard work and dedication.” Dr. Stafford also shares, “While our dual credit program is in great shape it is just one of many things that Vienna does well.”

Vocational programming has nearly disappeared over the last several years due to various issues; however Vienna has gone to great lengths to maintain their existing programs. Dr. Stafford has strong roots in the trades and vocations from experiences on the family farm and expresses his concern for those programs, “We must provide training in our K-12 systems that not only give students the opportunity to be outstanding mathematicians and English majors, but also teach them trade-able skills in every industry that has a high demand for workers. Welders, nurses, informational technology people, and many other professions are in demand and we are doing everything that we can to equip students to walk out of high school into the world of work.”

Schools in Illinois were faced with state funding decreases prior to 2017. When asked about the financial challenges that were facing schools Dr. Stafford expresses his concern, “Bottom line is that we can’t receive a nickel in revenue and spend a dime. Due to various issues at the state level, students in Illinois were suffering from unfulfilled and under fulfilled commitments when it comes to adequate funding for their education. Relating to finance we must monitor revenue and expenses while ensuring the success of our students through sound monetary decision making, retaining and selecting the most competent staff, exploring alternative revenue sources, and working collaboratively with the entire community in determining the future direction of our schools.” He explains, “Schools across the state are at a critical point in terms of financial stability. I am committed to providing a quality education to our students. As a community we must seriously examine all available options and determine what the future of our educational system will be prior to outside forces coming in and doing that for us.”

During the time that Dr. Stafford has served as superintendent the district has maintained a balanced budget each year, which had not been the case prior to his appointment.

Joshua W. Stafford
618-658-4461 x 222 phone
618-658-8165 fax