As director of social and emotional learning for Peoria Public Schools, Derrick Booth works to provide students and families with a range of therapeutic supports and services. In 2018, he led efforts to develop and open the doors of the Wraparound Center, a one-stop shop that provides access to critical resources to anyone in need throughout the City of Peoria.
A 1991 Manual High School graduate, Booth earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Illinois State University and master’s degree in human development and school counseling from Bradley University—where he ranked No. 1 in his class. He previously served as head boys basketball coach at Manual, leading the Rams to five conference championships, two state runner-up finishes and a third-place finish in 2016. In five of his 10 seasons, he was named Coach of the Year in District 12 by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
Along with his brother David, he co-founded the Booth Basketball Academy, providing summer opportunities for Peoria’s youth to build their intangible soft skills as well as their athletic skills. Booth also serves on the Local Advisory Committee for LISC and the Board of Directors for the Center of Prevention of Abuse. He and his wife, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, are proud residents of Peoria, and parents of daughter Jianna and Booth’s son, Chancellor.
- Favorite vacation spot: Riviera Maya, Mexico. This is also where Jehan and I got married in 2011. Nothing beats the beach, hospitality, and all-inclusive food and cocktails. We go back as often as we can.
- Most humbling experience: In my first year as head boys basketball coach at Manual High School, I lost my first seven games. Even after earning my 200th win nine years later, I never forgot what it felt like to be 0-7.
- What did you do to celebrate your milestone birthday? My wife had a huge birthday bash for my 40th birthday party with a poker theme. I celebrated with many friends and family and had an awesome time.
- What’s been your most difficult decision? Stepping down as head basketball coach at Manual to focus on my role as director of social and emotional learning for Peoria Public Schools. I love my new role, but it was tough not to have the daily interaction in the gym, working with young men to become successful on and off the court.
- Greatest achievement: Taking the lead on developing the Wraparound Center within Peoria Public Schools. Working with many agencies/organizations to provide their services and resources under one roof has been awesome. These agencies collaborate to meet the needs of students, adults and families throughout Peoria on a daily basis. I am honored to play a major role in its development.
- What are you most proud of? One of the things that makes me proudest is when I have former players who are earning college degrees—with some even earning master’s degrees and PhDs. Getting invited to their graduations and seeing them become successful young men makes me very proud. That is really what coaching was all about for me: using basketball to teach them how to be successful in life.
- What social issue fires you up? Criminal justice reform and social justice issues.
- What’s some of the best advice you’ve been given? My brother David told me that “Nobody owes you anything in life. Anything you want you have to earn it. If someone gives you something, count it as a bonus.” That has always stuck with me.
- What is something that always brings a smile to your face? Seeing my wife and kids at the end of a long day of work.
- What’s next? My next goal is to continue my education and earn a doctorate degree. PM