Alumnus Following Family Tradition in Education Career


willsCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 1, 2015 – As principal at Puxico Elementary, Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Nathan Wills of Bell City, Missouri, has followed in his family’s footsteps as a school administrator.

Wills is a third generation administrator behind his mother who retired as a superintendent and his grandfather who was an elementary principal. He credits them for the career path he chose.

“I was able to witness first-hand how fulfilling it is to devote your career to helping children grow and succeed,” Wills said.

Wills is serving as president-elect of the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) for the southeast district for the 2015-2016 school year and was named an Exemplary New Principal by the organization for the 2014-2015 school year. He says the association is a great way for principals to share ideas and discuss ways to improve the culture in each school.

“Through MAESP, I have made a number of friends and contacts that I feel comfortable coming to with issues and asking for advice on anything from alternatives for student discipline to new ideas on recognizing student achievement,” Wills said.

After Wills completed his undergraduate degree in speech and theatre education at Southeast, his first job in the field was teaching speech and theater classes to elementary and middle school students in Franklin, Tennessee. In 2012, he received his Master of Arts in educational administration from Southeast and is currently pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership through the University of Missouri-Columbia and Southeast Missouri State University’s cooperative doctoral program.

Wills initially chose Southeast for his bachelor’s degree because his parents are alumni and he was able to start his college journey by living in the same residence hall as some of his best friends from high school. He says Southeast prepared him well for life after college because it provided him with leadership opportunities and allowed him to be involved in several organizations.

“The result of those experiences has greatly enhanced my career, and I was able to form life-long friendships along the way,” said Wills.

He says Homecoming at Southeast is still one of his favorite festivities because it brings him back to all the good times during his undergraduate years, and it allows both alumni and current students to express their school pride.

When he attended Southeast, Wills was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. He now serves as the organization’s advisor and was named Fraternity Advisor of the Year by Southeast Missouri State University.

“I owe a debt of service to the fraternity that has given me so much throughout the years and becoming chapter advisor was a role that seemed fitting,” Wills said. “The experience of being a chapter advisor has been very rewarding.  To see men grow and develop as leaders continues to be the best part of the position.”

He leaves a few words of advice for Southeast students.

“Pursue a career that will make you happy and helps to make a positive impact in the world,” Wills says.