PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — After years of serving Peoria Public Schools’ families and being a voice for District 150 students, Dr. Derrick Booth is stepping away from his role with the district.
Booth has been Peoria Public Schools’ Director of Social and Emotional Learning since 2016, but his track record with helping students is much more extensive.
“One of the things I tell individuals is I’ve been working with Peoria Public Schools since I was 10,” Booth said. “I started out as a ball boy at Manual High School.”
From ball boy, to in-school suspension supervisor, to coach, to counselor, Booth has held a multitude of hats while working for PPS.
But in the midst of everything, he said one of his greatest accomplishments was the formation of the solution-focused Wraparound Center inside of Trewyn Middle School in 2018.
“The Wraparound Center is a host of agencies, resources, and services that we provide to the community free of charge,” Booth said. “The Wraparound Center came about because one of the things we understand about individuals that are dealing with trauma is they don’t need just one thing.”
“So in addition to those therapeutic supports that individuals often need we know they also need their basic needs, so the Wraparound Center provides them with assistance with housing, legal assistance, food assistance.”
Some of the center’s programs include Family Core, OSF Strive, Justice Advocates, Hand Up Peoria, and more.
He said since linking these services together into one facility in 2018, he’s seen transformation in the community and it’s one of his greatest successes.
“Bringing all of these community partners together is to meet the needs of the community has been one of my greatest joys of working with Peoria Public Schools,” Booth said. “I would also say the work of the Justice Advocates that I started three years ago.”
“Developing a program where individuals work with individuals going through the criminal justice system, meeting them where they are, making sure they’re enrolled in school, making sure they’re following their court order, making sure they’re getting caught up on their graduation credits and then continuing to work with them throughout college,” Booth said.
He said the Wraparound Center will remain a resource for the community as he moves on to become the new Executive Director of Community Services UnityPoint Health – UnityPlace.
Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat, Superintendent of Peoria Public Schools, said Booth has done so much for the district over the years and she wished him well at Monday’s Peoria Public School Board meeting.
“We’re really proud of you, we support you, this is a great opportunity for you and remember you always have a home back here,” Dr. Kherat said to Booth.