Retiring Dupo principal leaves lasting impact

John Bione

Retiring Bluffview Elementary principal John Bione has loved his job and the impact teachers, administrators and he have had on students.

“I thought I could do more to help kids than I could being a teacher,” he said of his decision to become principal when Bluffview first opened in Dupo. “I think I do have more influence. Of course, there’s more responsibility.”

But after 17 years, Bione, 56, is ready to move on to the next chapter of his life — not that he plans to take a back seat.

“I’m going to go back to work. I have no idea where, when or what,” he said. “I always say I’ll know it when I see it. But there’s not enough to do in retirement.”

That said, the Red Bud resident wants to start fresh in a less taxing work environment. His last day is June 30.

“I need something with less pressure — (more than 600 students) and 95 teachers, that’s a lot,” he said.
The benefits of having so many devoted teachers under his leadership, of course, are the encouraging results on student education — and Bione is not shy to confess his feelings that Bluffview has seen great educational success.

“For all the parents out there, there’s no doubt teachers teach more efficiently than when I started,” he said. “I’m really satisfied with where teaching and learning is at in the building.”
Dupo school superintendent Dr. Steve Smith attributed this success to Bione’s ability to hire top tier candidates.

“I believe Mr. Bione’s most significant impact at Bluffview Elementary has been primarily in the areas of teaching and learning,” Smith said. “Over the years, he took great pride in hiring outstanding teachers and providing them ‘best practice’ training combined with the resources needed to perform at a very high level.”

Whatever the case, Bione made his decisions with students in mind, citing his favorite part of the job as the “daily interaction” with kids.

“I don’t know that I have one story or even one highlight, because I look back and I’m not just retiring as principal, I’ve been a teacher for 17 years as well,” he said.

Bione did his teaching in Red Bud and served as principal for a year at a nearby southern Illinois school. As he ends his tenure to spend time with his wife, Kelly, and daughters, Blake and Brooke, he recalls the changes in education that have benefited students over the years.

“It used to be that you would sit in your seat and take notes. Now, you get up and work with people in the class and solve problems together,” he said. “There have been lots of good changes. Kids are doing more independently than ever.”

Bione cited these changes as another reason to leave Bluffview behind.

“It’s just time. It’s good to have new ideas and fresh blood,” he said.

“I do want to thank the community of Dupo and East Carondelet for trusting me to do what’s right with their kids all these years,” he added. “It’s been a great relationship.”

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