January Guest Blog – The Alton Educational Foundation: Guardians of Education

The Alton School District is fortunate to have support from many community partners, and the Alton Educational Foundation is an amazing organization in the spotlight this January.

The Alton Educational Foundation, AEF, was founded in 2001 to raise funds for innovative projects that provide enhanced educational opportunities, support academic excellence and encourage student achievement throughout the Alton School District. The AEF Board is currently comprised of twelve local advocates for public education, including business owners, parents and retired educators. (See the list of current Board Members attached.) Over the past seventeen years, volunteers have launched numerous fundraising efforts, including Redbird Raffles and memorial brick sales. In 2014, the AEF Board of Directors developed The Guardians of Educations membership program in hopes of raising more funds and retaining those funds for annual grants. The Guardians of Education program has raised over $24,000 annually for the past two years and those funds have been given back as grants to educators in the district. The application process is simple for teachers and the money is awarded at the January ACUSD Board Meeting. Since the inception of AEF, an astounding total of $187,000 has been awarded to teachers in the Alton School District due to the generosity of donors.

Local Guardians of Education include businesses and individuals who donate annually. See a list of Guardians here: http://www.altoned.org/html/guardians.html

Many of the individual donations are from the very teachers and educators who have witnessed the academic benefits of the grants provided.

In addition to teacher grants, this generous organization also provides scholarship opportunities to Alton High School Graduates. This year the AEF will award two $1,000 scholarships, each to a deserving student from the class of 2018.

Any educator would ask, how do students benefit from the work of the Alton Educational Foundation? The foundation annually funds grants that lead to improved technology, materials and equipment, as well as teaching aides that enhance student learning and engagement. As a small list of examples from 2017, students in Alton have hands on books, ipads, sewing machines, musical instruments, preserved biology specimens, 3D printers and robots, all thanks to the AEF. Read on to learn about some of the amazing opportunities these funds have provided. Visit the Alton Educational Foundation website here: http://www.altoned.org/index.html

Recent Projects made possible through Alton Educational Foundation Grants

Weather Bug” by Bridget Lyles and Jeff Alderman, Alton Middle School and Alton High School Thanks to the AEF, we now have an onsite weather camera and alert system. Using the technology provided by Earth Networks, we have constant on the spot weather reports and a live camera on campus. Click this link to take a peek: http://owc.enterprise.earthnetworks.com/OnlineWeatherCenter.aspx?aid=7102 This tool is used in our science classrooms coupled with a STEM curriculum to provide real data that students can analyze and interpret. In addition, our student athletes now have a warning system fueled by the latest technology to ensure safety during practices and competition. As a convenience factor for parents, this weather station is also linked directly to our district website at http://www.altonschools.org/.

Illuminating History” by Lexa Browning, Alton High School Advocates of The Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trail are leading the charge to bring the history of this local sea captain to life in Alton. Part of the project included a children’s book about the life of Benjamin Godfrey, and the Alton High Graphic Arts class was invited to illustrate the book. http://advantagenews.com/news/authors-team-up-with-ahs-students-for-godfrey-book/ Bringing two community partners together, teacher Lexa Browning applied for and received a grant to access Blippar technology that was incorporated in the book illustrations. This feature allows readers to scan pages of the book and bring the story of Benjamin Godfrey to life. Take a look at the KSDK segment featuring the book: http://www.ksdk.com/article/mobile/news/local/alton-students-local-authors-publish-book-about-community-history/440222381

I’ve just GOT to read THAT book…and THAT book…and THAT book!” By Barbara Jacks & Carrie Schildroth, Alton Middle School The grant we received was used to purchase books for the Read 180 classrooms at AMS. The books are specifically designed to boost children’s reading levels at an accelerated rate and have high interest levels. The students have access to a range of complex texts in social studies, science and other disciplines, which has allowed them to build a foundation of knowledge and background that supports them across all content areas. Continued on page 2 Meet the AEF Board Ryan Bemis President Phil Trapani Vice President Nita Whitten Treasurer Angela McDowell Secretary Kim Haug Ellen Jackson Lisa Long Doug Mendenhall Rebecca Steiner Ginger Woodman District Representatives Mark Cappel Elaine Kane Bricks, Blocks, & Benches Bricks, blocks, and benches are available for purchase and will be placed at Alton High School. Proceeds from the sales are combined with the Guardians of Education funds. Click on the Brick Campaign tab at altoned.org for more information. This grant has enabled our classroom libraries to be expanded and given the students more choices of books to choose from. Words cannot adequately express how much they (and we) appreciate it!!!!! It’s so exciting to see students want to read, read, read! The students have been motivated to read more and dig deeper into research on the texts that have had a high level of interest to them. These things have resulted in comprehension and vocabulary skills being increased.

The ABCs of Music” By Thora Buis, East Elementary Thank you again for the grant money I received last year. I used the money to purchase more books for my classroom. The books cover all types of musical literature. Some of the books I use in direct teaching with my students. These books may contain factual stories about instrument families or composers. Other books contain songs that are collected and illustrated. We use these books as we sing songs or study lyrics together in the classroom. Sometimes the students are able to enjoy the books on their own or with a friend as seen in the attached pictures. Using books in the music classroom provides another opportunity to enrich student learning. It allows students to transfer skills from their core learning and apply them to areas of enrichment and personal enjoyment.

Hear Us ROAR” By Julie Gallivan & Lori Johnson, Gilson Brown The “Hear Us ROAR” grant funded by the Alton Educational Foundation allowed Gilson Brown School to purchase 201 books for our Reach Out And Read program. This grant expanded our selection of books for students to read with community members in our before-school reading program. Each student in 1st grade has a folder with appropriate leveled books to read and a reading log for the community volunteer to complete. Students are becoming better readers because they are excited to read the newly purchased books. The books are quality, high interest, and various leveled texts to engage all readers. The students love to read Elephant and Piggie, Pete the Cat, Fly Guy, or nonfiction texts about animals. Gilson Brown School would like to thank the Alton Educational Foundation for their support. Scroll down at www.altonschools.org to see a video about Reach Out and Read and access our ROAR Volunteer Information.

ROAR Volunteer Reverend David Crowley listens to a student read one of the new books provided by the AEF at ROAR.

Creating a Joyful Classroom Community” By Jordan Brannon, Lovejoy “Creating a Joyful Classroom Community” was the name of our project. In short, I needed books to help teach my class the social and emotional learning expectations for kindergarten. These skills are essential to build with young students. My school at the time, East Elementary, had time reserved weekly for social-emotional learning. Lesson plans were given to us, but we did not have any literature to support our teaching. I was able to purchase 49 books to support the Illinois social and emotional learning standards. By having resources to help my students cope with their feelings, I was able to increase the learning in my classroom and reduce the number of office discipline referrals. For young kids to be able to identify with characters who are resolving the same conflicts that they have is very beneficial. The books purchased addressed the following areas: making decisions at school, recognizing and labeling feelings and emotions, and recognizing others’ feelings and perspectives. I was able to use these books when problems would arise-sometimes reading the same stories multiple times. The kids LOVE the books and would even ask for them frequently.

Alton Middle School Teacher Rob Miller demonstrates a 3D printer provided by an AEF Grant at the Guardians of Education appreciation breakfast.


Students and teachers from North Elementary share their experiences with the reading materials provided by an AEF Grant at the Guardians of Education appreciation breakfast.


Plaques in each school acknowledge the contributions of the Alton Educational Foundation Guardians of Education.


Alton Educational Foundation Board Members