March Guest Blog: EAWR Foundation: “Keeping That Oiler Spirit Alive!”

The EAWR Foundation was founded in January 2011 as a way of providing extra resources for our school and students that the district might not be able to afford. Since then, it has engaged in outreach to wonderful alumni and community members, many of whom are lovingly devoted to Wood River High.

The Foundation is governed by the Board of Directors appointed by the school board, but which is independent of the school board in most legal respects. It is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that is registered with the State of Illinois. The founding Board of Directors in 2011 was Merle Bassett, Jean Bruce, Susan Broadway, Leroy Emerick, Bob Kasten, John Pearson, Erin Phillips, Leigh Robinson, and Henry Studnicki.

The Foundation got off to a running start, with it’s first direct mailing fundraising campaign (2011) netting $11,275 in its discretionary account. Also, given its IRS status, the Foundation has also been the choice of several local scholarship funds, that were started by our friends who wished to give back (the Eunice and Elmer St. Peters Scholarship; the Dale Studnicki Memorial Scholarship; the Shirley Waide Drama Scholarship; the Scott King Art Scholarship; the Merle Bassett Memorial Scholarship; the Toni Fry-Hilgert Memorial Scholarship, and the Orville & Kathleen Brunjes Scholarship). Our donors have also given through memorials (including Dr. Harold Hudson, Darrell Franklin) or graduating classes (such as the class of 1961).

The Foundation’s furthest donation came from a former exchange student from Italy. Also, The Bank of Edwardsville and First Cloverleaf Bank (1st Mid-America Bank) have both given large donations for specific projects (new stage curtains, electronic marquee, etc.)

Some donors give through their company’s matching grants (Boeing, General Electric are a couple of examples). And, some of our most generous donors have given gifts of over $1,000 with some of those donors having done that repeatedly. Also, many of our donors give smaller but still cherished amounts of support. As a matter of fact, the Foundation has different levels representing range of giving (Gold, Maroon, Oiler, Friend of EAWR)

Some of the more notable Foundation purchases and donations have been (see photos below): 1) 10 iPads for classroom use ($5,800 – 2012); 2) New Auditorium stage curtains ($12,000 – 2014, with $3,000 of that coming from The Bank of Edwardsville and First Cloverleaf Banks combined); 3) A new “drum line” drum sets for the marching band ($10,000 – 2014); 4) A set of professional cameras for our student Yearbook photographers ($1,020 – 2014); 5) The new electronic marquee ($22,500 – also aided by a $5,000 gift from The Bank of Edwardsville); 6) Funds for the Chess Club ($100 – 2015); 7) A 65” HD TV for the Cafeteria ($800 – 2016); 9) With a matching grant from the Oiler Booster Club, a new stage mat for basketball games ($700 – 2017); 10) Window A/C units for the top floor classrooms ($10,200 – 2017); 11) With the immense help of memorial funds from the Orville and Kathleen memorial trust, the purchase of a new football scoreboard ($28,000 – 2018).

Other Foundation donations have been made behind the scenes for the direct benefit of students (e.g. articles of clothing, tuition to HOBY camps), and some student clubs (such as the Spirit Club).

The Foundation relies on several giving and fundraising sources: Direct giving; memorial bequests; matching donations from certain corporate programs; sale of commemorative bricks for the Brick Display in front of the Memorial Gym; proceeds from the bi-annual cash raffle; et al.

The Foundation has raised over $119,000 in general giving (not including scholarship funds) since its inception and has big projects and “wish lists” being developed right now.

The EAWR Foundation is proud to support the students and activities of East Alton – Wood River Community High School. After all …

“It’s great to belong to Wood River High,
To know good fellowship.
A friendly smile, a word worthwhile,
A song on every lip.
He profits the most who serves the best, with love & loyalty,
So, here’s a song to help along,
Hurrah for Victory!”

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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

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!

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:

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:

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: 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

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. 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:

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 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 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





December Guest Blog: Collinsville CUSD #10

How can school districts be effective with limited financial resources? Schools in Madison County are challenged every day by growing student needs and shrinking budgets.

Recently, Collinsville Community Unit School District #10 learned we were named an “exemplar for public schools in Illinois” by IFF – a nonprofit community development financial institution.

We are one of three school districts called a “Bright Spot for Future Investment” profiled in IFF’s study: Raising Quality, Promoting Equity” An Analysis of Location, Performance and Investment in Illinois Public Schools.” The other districts are Elgin-Area School District U-46 and Vienna School District 55.

The study evaluated the effectiveness of district resource allocation. The three districts were highlighted for “cost effectively meeting the needs of their students, reaching them with effective academic preparation even in the face of funding gaps.”

One of the areas in which we have had great success is leveraging existing resources in creative ways. An example is the First Annual STEM Day at held at Collinsville High School in September for all district 3rd graders.

CUSD 10 Third Grade STEM Day

STEM Day CHS Students Teaching Solar to 3rd Graders Sept 2017
Collinsville High School STEM students demonstrate solar energy for 3rd graders at STEM Day.  
STEM Day 3rd Grade Girls with Circuits Sept 2017
Collinsville 3rd graders learned about electricity and circuits during First Annual 3rd Grade STEM Day
STEM Day 3rd Grade Boy with Worm Sept 2017
3rd graders in Collinsville Unit 10 had hands on lessons at the district’s STEM Day.

The event was the brainchild of the CUSD 10 Science Vertical Team. The Science Vertical Team is comprised of science teachers representing all grade levels in the district. STEM Day was a result of their collaborative work to bridge science curriculum between age groups. 

Science staff who helped orchestrate STEM Day were Jamie Barger (Collinsville Middle School) , Krista Basuel (Kreitner Elementary), Susanna Benson (Webster Elementary), Jill Carter (Collinsville Middle School), Tom Withee (Collinsville High School), Pat Szpila (Collinsville High School), Stephanie Schweppe (Collinsville High School), Chris Comrie (Dorris Intermediate School), Matt Blunt (Collinsville Middle School), Jason Watts (Dorris Intermediate School) and Sean Hay (Collinsville High School).

The idea was to bring together all 3rd grade students for shared Science, Engineering, Technology and Math experiences. The various stations and experiments were staffed by members of the Collinsville High School STEM club under the supervision of the STEM Day committee teachers.

CHS STEM students were challenged to create interactive experiences for the younger students and served as mentors at each of the stations walking the 3rd graders through the lessons and experiments. Third grade classes attended either the morning or afternoon two-hour session.

Third graders were greeted by a CHS student guide who escorted them through various STEM stations. Most stations involved hands-on experimentation. Stations included: Pinewood Derby Challenge, Laser Maze, Treehouse Wildlife Center, Water Rocket Launch, Willoughby Farms Energy Bike, Design Boat Challenge, Robot Ramble, Adaptation Station, Wind Turbine Challenge, What Would Worms Do?, Solar Car Race, and Classifications.

There were exhibits about optical illusions, a 3D-Printer, a decoding challenge, a Van De Graff generator and Cartesian Divers.

Third graders also got to see real-life science in action as they toured the Collinsville Area Vocational Center at CHS. They learned about the concepts behind automobiles, electricity, robotics, welding, building trades and precision machining.

McKendree University Sigma Zeta Science Honor Society provided microscopes and STEM college students to help the 3rd graders learn how to use them.

Successful Outcomes

Feedback from the students was immediate and very positive. The 3rd graders were engaged throughout the sessions. The high school students took their responsibilities very seriously and provided meaningful, informative interactions for the younger students.

Jill Carter, 8th grade science teacher and Collinsville Middle School Science Department Chair, summarized the event: “STEM Day was a great opportunity for our district’s 3rd graders to spend the morning or afternoon immersed in science. We are happy to see this day peaked students’ interest and served as a “hook” to get them ready to learn science this school year!”

Our goal was not only to educate, excite and engage the 3rd graders, but their teachers as well. As a team we are working to promote the importance our district’s science curriculum as a whole and to be sure the teachers of the little ones know the importance of their part in in the education of our future scientists,” said Carter.

Krista Basuel, a 3rd grader teacher at Kreitner Elementary agreed, “I thought the 3rd Grade STEM Day was a huge success! It was worth all the hard work and preparation to see the look of wonderment and excitement in the students’ faces. I had so many students tell me how much they LOVE Science, and they had never realized it before!”

The event was paced perfectly for their attention spans and also provided a well-rounded experience into Science, Technology, and Engineering. The stations were so diverse that the students never lost interest in what was being taught to them. I hope this event can be an annual event for all 3rd graders!”

Cost Effective Innovation

Third Grade STEM Day is an example of CUSD 10 cost effectively using resources for a positive outcome. Five hundred 3rd graders were engaged in STEM education, staff collaborated vertically on science curriculum, 3rd grade teachers were inspired to integrate concepts into their lessons and high school students gained leadership experience while sharing their STEM knowledge – all for a minimal cost.

For more information about Collinsville CUSD 10 visit, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@CUSD10).

Guest Blog: Triad Community Unit School District #2


Like many schools in Madison County, Triad CUSD #2 is working hard to keep up with the high demands placed on public education today. We’ve kept our focus on 21st Century Learning Skills, personalized learning and student growth while maintaining a balanced budget. Triad is fortunate to have supportive parents, teachers and communities that place a high value on education.

Triad’s enrollment continues to grow. The current kindergarten class is the largest in Triad’s history, and this year’s total enrollment is the highest since 2007. Keeping students on track to graduate is one of our district’s goals. The Illinois School Report Card, which will be released to the public on October 31st, shows data of our continued growth and improvement in several areas.

As technology devices have become more mobile and affordable, the district’s plan to increase the number of tablets and laptops in each building with the goal of becoming one-to-one in grades 2-12 by the 2020 is on target. Starting the 2017-18 school year, students third grade through 10th grade are one-to-one with a Chromebook. Teachers are using technology to be more creative in their lesson planning, to increase student engagement, and to assist students in taking more ownership of their learning. See if you know any of our 34 Google Certified Educators.

The Triad Staff embraces innovation and creativity in the classroom by taking part in atriadsmallerimage self-directed professional development program called TRIADvances. #TRIADvances is our new technology-infused professional development program that represents a shift toward more individualized support aligned with the Danielson Evaluation Framework and the SAMR Technology Model for teachers.

A digital badge system rewards teachers for going above and beyond commonly held standards for personal and professional learning. Five instructional coaches and two technology instructional coaches have been added to support our professional development goals this year. Please take a look at the badges and teacher lessons that have been earned during initial pilot.

Within our classrooms, students have opportunities to gain 21st century skills above and beyond the three R’s. Beginning in 4th grade, students have access to computer coding classes which continue through the middle grades and culminate at Triad High School with Project Lead the Way courses in engineering & computer science.

Beyond the school day, our communities, staff and parents generously support the district’s extracurricular programs. Starting at the elementary level, students can participate in STEM programs and a coding club. At the middle school level, teachers encourage students to expand their day by joining teams and groups that add experiences in the areas of academia, the fine arts and athletics. When students reach the high school, they have even more opportunities to showcase their talents or develop more interests by joining one or more of the 21 athletic teams and 48 clubs, some of which are created and led by students.

Reading about Triad initiatives, staff and student highlights are one thing… seeing it is another. We encourage you to reach out to our district & school social media accounts on Twitter (@triadnews) and Facebook ( and see the pictures and videos that are shared on a daily basis. If you ever want to know what is happening at Triad on any given day, you can log on to Twitter and follow #TriadProud. That is where our students, staff, faculty, and administrators provide a wealth of information about the great things happening here every day.

Thanks to Triad CUSD for this great blog!

Next up (December): Collinsville Community School District #10