For the eleventh time, Dana Poole presented a diploma to one of his daughters when he was on the stage for Melissa's graduation in May
MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (August 14, 2023) — On May 15, Monmouth College painter Dana Poole started his annual summer regimen of repairing and touching up more than a dozen student residences, as well as other campus facilities.
But the day prior was also a milestone for Poole, who's been working at the College for more than a quarter-century. During Monmouth's Commencement exercises on May 14, he presented his youngest daughter, Melissa, with her college diploma. That marked the eleventth time he'd been on stage for a memorable moment in the education of his four daughters. That includes Madeline, who graduated from Monmouth in 2017, and twins Emma and Nicole, who were part of a large contingent of siblings in the Class of 2022.
Monmouth College painter Dana Poole is flanked by his four daughters, who are all Monmouth graduates. From left are Nicole ('22), Emma ('22), Madeline ('17), and Melissa ('23)
In his role on the board of directors for United School District 304, Poole also had the opportunity to present his daughters their high school diplomas and, with the exception of Madeline, their junior-high promotion certificates, as well.
"It's pretty special to me," said Poole, who served as president for the final ten of his twelve years on United's board. "I think it's kind of unusual. A school board member has always been able to do that, and it's nice that the College allows it, too."
“I will always remember it”
As has been the case for several summers, Poole has been able to enjoy the company of his daughters as they help with his busy painting schedule.
"Starting the day after graduation, we go through all the dorms and do some repairs and some repainting," said Poole. "We start in right away. If we didn't, we wouldn't get done. The first place we typically go is Bowers Hall to get it ready for the Golden Scots Celebration, but we eventually make our way to all the residence halls and sorority houses, and we're in the Center for Science and Business now."
While taking a break from their work in the CSB, Poole's daughters described what it's meant to them to have their father share their milestone moments.
"I will always remember it," said Madeline Poole. "It's a very proud moment — not just for me personally, but being proud of my dad for being the school board president. Words can't begin to express how the feeling feels."
For Emma Poole, her father's presence had a calming effect.
"It's kind of comforting, because you know you have him up there," she said. "Graduation is an exciting day, but there's a lot of stress to it, too. But when he's up there, it made me feel, 'This is normal.'"
Nicole Poole commented on that normalcy.
"By the third time of doing it, we had it down," she said. "I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity. It's definitely just as much an honor for us to receive the diplomas from him as it was for him to give it to us. Not many people can say their dad handed them most or all of their diplomas."
Emma remarked on the most recent diploma presentation to her younger sister Melissa.
"It's kind of the end of an era," she said. "It rounded everything out perfectly. Dad stepped down from the school board earlier this year, and now his last daughter has graduated from college."
The importance of education
Presenting diplomas was an added perk to the school board position for Poole, a 1979 graduate of Warren High School, which is one of the school districts that consolidated to form United. At Warren, Poole earned eight varsity letters while competing in track, football and basketball for the Warriors.
"When I graduated high school, I remember thinking, 'Maybe I'll do that someday,'" he said of joining the school board. "A few individuals encouraged me to do it, so I ran for it. It's a way for me to just give a little back to our community. It wasn't always easy, and there've been some very tough decisions, especially during the COVID years. But I learned a lot, and I feel I gave back as best I could."
His daughters will always carry the memory of receiving their diplomas from their father, and there's another point of pride they can associate with that day, as three of them are listed in their respective Commencement programs as magna cum laude graduates.
"I think they get that from their mother," quipped Poole, referring to his wife, Janice, who works at Midwest Bank of Western Illinois. "We've always stressed that a good education would help you in your career. We've always stressed reading. We read books to them when they were little children, and they've continued to do that."
Three of Poole's daughters work for United, and Melissa will start work soon in the business department of nearby Carl Sandburg College. Poole is happy that his daughters' work in the field of education has freed up their summers to work alongside him, and he's also grateful they were able to complete their college studies at a school with strong academics.
"I feel very fortunate that they were able to get an education at Monmouth College," he said. "I think they're very proud of the degrees they earned. Some of my family call Monmouth 'a hidden little gem,' and I feel that way about it, too. If you come here, you're going to get a good education."