February Guest Blog: East Alton School District 13

If you drive through Madison County too quickly, you might miss the 5.5 square miles that make up East Alton. It’s easy to do, especially with the expansion of 255 and the larger communities around us. What you would be missing out on is the amazing, and forward thinking things that East Alton Elementary District #13 is doing. In the education world, we are marking our mark on the map and refuse to be passed by!

We are continually implementing new and wonderful things for our students, while not forgetting the tried and true programs or opportunities that make a major impact on our students, staff and community.

Foster Grandparents:

We are excited to continue our Foster Grandparent program at Eastwood Elementary.1
We have 4 grandparents who come help, and are eager and willing to do whatever our students need. Sometimes you can find Grandma or Grandpa working with students individually or in small groups on academic concepts they are struggling with. Other times you will find them eager to give a smile or a hug to any studnt, or staff member, that just needs a little extra love and attention! Still other times, there are the direct conversations about choices that child is making. It’s the talk that no one enjoys being called out for your choices, but the students know that the conversation is coming from a place of caring and compassion. Students walk away knowing that there’s one more person truly invested in them.

2nd Grade Morning Reading:

2As a district we strive to cultivate a passion for students’ love of reading! Research has also proven that to be a better reader, you have to read more. With a limited number of hours in a school day, we wanted to ensure that we are utilizing every moment our students are with us. Therefore, from 8:00 – 8:30 am, three days a week, you will find our 2nd graders reading with adult volunteers from the community. Our 2nd graders love the opportunity to have someone sit, one-on-one, with them and listen to them ready. 3

Our adult volunteers cherish the opportunity to interact, by asking questions about the child’s book and then wishing them a great day as they head off to class. The opportunity to have the East Alton Community invest in the children, whom are its future, is immense. The impact this program has had on our 2nd grade reading levels is undeniable and supported by the data of our assessments.

SIUE Education Student Interventions:

For many years we have had the pleasure of hosting SIUE students in our classrooms as they gather field experience and complete their student teaching for their Elementary Education programs. This year, we have expanded our partnership with SIUE School of Education. Several education students come in to work with students from 7:30 – 8:30 am. The SIUE students complete math and reading academic assessments with elementary students, identify their individual areas of need and then create lessons and activities to complete with that student. The SIUE students are given the opportunity to experience an area of education that a college classroom cannot provide – the complexity of authentic students. Our students are provided with more intervention time to increase their skills in the areas of math and reading, without the limitations of the traditional school day.4

Inquiry and Design Class:

5At East Alton Middle School, every 7th grade student will take a quarter course of Inquiry and Design. This is not your traditional middle school class by any stretch of the imagination. Speaking of imagination, that is exactly what these students need, along with critical thinking, problem solving and grit! After the initial two weeks in the course, where students are guided by their teacher through problem solving challenges, the students are challenged to design something they are passionate about, build a functioning version of that product and determine how to market it to the masses. It is not unusual to hear power tools, and hammering, as you walk pass this classroom, but the true power of this course is to hear the collaboration between students as they try to problem solve why their motor won’t turn over, or why their make-up is too think, or even why the robot is not hitting it’s target as programmed. The future looks bright with these inventors on the rise.

District 13 News Station:

6Last year, District 13 News started broadcasting to share important district information with students and parents, acknowledge some of our outstanding students and staff, and keep the community in the loop of what is happening in our district. This year, the news station has expanded to being completely student written, directed and produced. They have also starting including Public Service Announcements about things they believe are important and relevant to District 13 students. With the students’ knowledge of multiple technology applications, due to our district’s one-to-one iPad initiative, the production level of these broadcast has far exceeded the expectations of a middle school run news channel. You can catch the District 13 News on our EAMS Facebook page or by going to our district website www.easd13.org.

These are just a few of the amazing things are happening in the East Alton Elementary District #13! So, while East Alton, IL may only occupy a small area of Madison County, EASD #13 is making a huge impact on the community. There is no doubt that the future is bright for the students here and you will be hearing about our district a lot in the future!

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