QPS Board Member Spotlight: Q&A with Curtis Sethaler

Curtis Sethaler, Quincy Public School Board Member

Meet Curtis Sethaler, a dedicated QPS School Board member whose journey reflects his passion for education and community service. Discover his background, commitment to youth development, and inspiring vision for the future of Quincy Public Schools.

I was born and raised in Pittsfield, IL, about 45 minutes south of Quincy. My wife Laura and I moved to Quincy in 2008, and we have three girls who attend school at QPS. I attended all of my initial education in Pittsfield before attending Hannibal LaGrange, John Wood, and SIUE. I am currently finishing my doctoral degree at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. My career path has been wild, to say the least. After my initial stint in college, I spent 12 years in the trades as a licensed plumber. While working in plumbing, I had the opportunity to volunteer with Young Life and ultimately join the staff of Young Life as Area Director in 2016, and I still operate in that role. In 2020, I started a coaching and consulting company, Curtis Sethaler Leadership Solutions, which focuses on youth and nonprofit leader development. I serve as a student mentor for the Quincy Public Schools’ Mentor Program. Most recently, I was selected to be the new Program Facilitator for the Adams County CEO Program. Additionally, I co-own Quincy Axe Company (2021) and Experience Quincy (2022). 

Curtis Sethaler pictured with his wife and three daughters.

I come from a family of educators. Early on in my college experience, I chaperoned field trips for my mother’s classes, as there was a need for more engaged adults. As someone who has worked with youth for decades, I cannot overstate the importance of education. Tied to education, I believe strongly in individuals being active and involved in their communities. Social media has given many the idea of pseudo-involvement. We think we have done enough if we “like” or “share” a post. I believe that we are at our best when we are actively serving and investing time, energy, and attention into our communities to create the best possible environment for ourselves, our families, and our community overall. That kind of involvement requires us to show up and to do more. It is sacrificial in nature, with others’ interests ahead of our own. My involvement in community service has been largely influenced by others in our community who have and continue to invest themselves at a high level. On some level, I hope those who truly want our community to thrive will be inspired to do more and be better by looking to those who are investing their time, energy, and attention in this community. 

The thing I enjoy most about our community is how Quincy supports Quincy. While I am not “from” Quincy, my wife and I have lived in the community for 16 years and cannot imagine living anywhere else. This is a tight-knit community where I truly believe we all want what is best for each other. 

I was inspired to run for the QPS School Board because I wanted to give back to the community that has supported my work with Young Life and my family in many ways since we moved here. My experience in nonprofit leadership and student life gives me a unique insight into the needs of students, educators, and our community. I hope that over my tenure on the board, we can build on the incredible foundation laid before us. 

What I enjoy the most about the board is building relationships with educators, students, and community members who are passionate about our community’s educational success. What I enjoy most about my role is learning about people and their experiences through conversation, usually fueled by coffee. 

Since joining the board, my perspective on education has changed in that I see a much more broad impact of educational experiences on students and staff. I also see much more vividly the stresses that educators face due to the continued collapse of the nuclear family unit. Educators, please know you are seen, valued, and appreciated. Thank you for doing what you do! 

My main goal in joining the board was to make life at QPS the best possible for our students, educators, and all of our staff. I think the most important accomplishment this year was the learning I experienced and the relationships I am building. As a new board member, building trust is the most important thing I can do. This includes building trust with educators, students, other board members, and, most importantly, the taxpayers of our community. 

As someone from a family of educators, who worked in the trades and honestly did not seek to excel in school, I greatly appreciate trades as well as traditional and nontraditional education. I think that the greatest thing we can teach our kids is how to learn. Everything is an opportunity for learning; good, bad, or otherwise, learning can be had in all areas. Extending this idea out into our divided world, we can learn from others if we keep a posture of humility and understanding. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie famously said, “Everyone is my superior in some way in that I can learn from them.” My experience and my education have supported Carnegie’s idea that learning is everywhere if we look for it. 

I see alumni supporting the educational experience of current students by being a present and positive influence where they are able. Obviously, some careers pull alumni far away from Quincy, but for those that are fortunate to remain here or return, their investment of time and energy has the potential to greatly influence our current students to show them what is possible not only through education but through community involvement.

Two principles and values that guide my decision-making and leadership are the belief that all people have value just because they are, and people become people because of other people. The first idea is that people have value just because they are, which affirms humanity above all else. No one has to do anything for us to see them as the person they are. They exist, therefore, they have value, and we should strive to affirm that value and help them reach their potential. 

Second, the idea that people become people because of other people speaks to the value of the people in our lives, shaping who we become. For those of us who serve student populations, we have the responsibility to consider how we affect and influence those we lead, but it extends far beyond that. As individuals, we can impact and influence those around us, and we are all in or should be in a constant state of growth and development. It is important to consider the impact we have on others, and the impact they have on us as we seek to build lives that we can be proud of.

Some of my favorite memories from school include sports, hanging out with my friends, driving around, listening to music when new albums came out for the bands we loved, and opening lunch where we could leave school and eat together somewhere off-site. 

Unequivocally, the biggest change since I was in school has been technology. I am grateful every day that phones did not exist on the scale that they do now. When I was in school, I could not imagine having every aspect of my educational and social existence having the potential for being filmed and shared on social media in perpetuity. I honestly believe my educational experience was much easier than what students and educators have to deal with today. I’m incredibly grateful to have gone to school when I did. 

Outside of work, I enjoy spending quality time with my wife and daughters, reading, working out, hunting, fishing, and working on our farm outside of Barry.

Curtis Sethaler pictured with his wife and three daughters.

I advise current students to take responsibility for their lives as early as possible. Your story, your education, and ultimately, your life are all yours to own, build, and take responsibility for. No one is going to succeed for you. It is all up to you. Get to work. 

I would like to express my appreciation to the alumni community for allowing me to serve on the QPS School Board. As someone who moved to Quincy seeking better opportunities for myself and my family, the way Quincy has become home has been amazing. Thank you for welcoming us and helping us build a life here we could not have imagined. I am still learning so much about serving on the school board and about the needs of our kids and educators. I ask for your support as I learn, your willingness to communicate needs, and your patience as we all seek to do what we can to make life at QPS all it can be!


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