Jon Roop will be the new activities director at De Soto High School next school year.
Roop, who has held the same position at Herculaneum since July 2018, will start work in De Soto on July 1, 2020.
He replaces Matt Deaton, who has been the school’s AD for six years. Deaton will stay at De Soto as an assistant principal at the high school.
Deaton’s hiring was approved by the De Soto Board of Education at its meeting on October 15. At the same meeting, the board unanimously voted to separate the activities director position and assistant principal responsibilities.
At its November meeting, the board approved Roop’s hire in a 5-1 vote, with Lori McKee abstaining and Pamela Midgett voting no.
Roop, 33, will be paid $82,187.50 for the 2020-2021 school year.
His salary at Herculaneum was $72,000, where he was also an assistant principal.
Roop graduated from De Soto in 2004, lives in Hillsboro and taught at
De Soto for 10 years before he was hired at Herculaneum, where he also was an assistant football coach.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Westminster College before earning a master’s degree in educational administration from Missouri Baptist University.
“The De Soto School District has always meant a lot to me and has made me who I am,” Roop said. “I was involved in sports and activities there so I’m very pleased to go home and make a positive impact for the school that’s meant so much to me.”
Roop said he met with the coaches at Herculaneum the day after he learned he got the De Soto job.
“The coaches and sponsors here are student-focused and put the kids first,” he said. “Judy Sobel (Herculaneum’s athletic secretary) could run this office by herself. She’s been very instrumental in helping me get settled into this job and she’s the best in the business.”
Josh Isaacson, the superintendent at De Soto, said he’s looking forward to having a De Soto graduate return.
“We’re hoping for some exciting things,” Isaacson said. “There’s a multitude of things to look at for activities. The more we can connect to all kids, from academic teams, coding club, robotics. Any connection we can have with kids outside of regular school hours is a benefit to them and our community.”
Isaacson said he’d like to see De Soto increase participation in intramural sports. He said that would keep student-athletes who don’t make the cut at the JV and varsity level involved. Some students, he said, never try out for a sport again once they’ve been cut a first time.
De Soto’s activities director wasn’t always tied to an assistant principal’s duties, and Isaacson said it was separated again because both jobs are demanding.
“There’s a lot of pressure to handle various situations that arise and getting into a classroom to provide feedback for teachers,” he said. “When you’re doing double duty, it’s hard to cover all the things under that umbrella.”
As assistant principal, Deaton conducts teacher evaluations and works with student discipline and supervision.
“We work as a team to get it all knocked out,” Deaton said. “I’ll miss the one-on-one help with the students to achieve their goals in college activities. Having those conversations with them is something I always enjoyed. When I start my new job, I hope they still want my two cents’ worth and I will help them any way I can.”
Deaton said De Soto is in good hands with Roop.
“He did a great job when he was here. He bleeds green and he’ll do a great job in coming home,” Deaton said.
At Herky, Roop said he’s worked with 90 to 95 percent of the high school’s 440 students. He also works with professional learning communities and helps with curriculum.
“I don’t mind lending a helping hand when needed, but most of that will go away (at De Soto),” he said.
Having not completed two years at Herculaneum, Roop said he understands if there’s some disappointment from the administration about his departure.
“I tried to be honest and open and they understood,” he said. “This move is good for my family.”
Roop said the Blackcats will receive his undivided attention through the end of the school year. He said his decision to leave wasn’t easy because of the support he’s received at Herculaneum.
“I’m a Blackcat until then and I’m excited to see what we do until the end of the year,” he said.
Clint Freeman, the deputy superintendent of the Dunklin R-5 School District, is also changing jobs. Freeman replaces superintendent Stan Stratton when he retires at the end of the school year. Before going to Dunklin R-5, Freeman was an assistant superintendent at De Soto.
John Crabtree is retiring as principal of Herculaneum High School at the end of the school year. Freeman is reviewing applications for the job and interviews will begin in January. Once a new principal is hired, Freeman said a search for an activities director will begin.
“We’re looking for stability. The activities director is a very important role,” Freeman said. “The extracurricular side is very important to what we do. Activities is the face of the high school at times. The person we want to hire should be detail-oriented and prideful of our school’s history.”
Varsity sports at De Soto are steeped in tradition. There’s been very little turnover in head coaching positions in recent years. The wrestling team dominates the Jefferson County Activities Association. The girls cross country team has finished fourth and second respectively at the Class 3 state championships the last two years. Boys track and field athletes won Class 4 titles in the long jump and pole vault in 2017 and 2018. The football team ended long losing streaks against Festus and Hillsboro the last two years.
None of this is lost on Roop.
“There are great people in place there who are doing wonderful things,” he said.