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





NEW! Madison County School District Employment Opportunities in Booklet Form

In an effort to make sure we can assist in getting the word out about school district employment opportunities, we are going to release known vacancies in a new booklet form. If you have openings that we haven’t listed or know about, please let us know and we will add them. Please let us know when the positions are filled. We will create a booklet for the non-public schools in the near future. Thanks!

Click HERE to view the booklet.

New Teacher/Administrator Workshop: Stressed Brains Can’t Learn: Creating a Trauma Sensitive Classroom with Strategies That Work

Who: K-12 Teachers and Administrators

When: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Where: Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities, 1210 N. Main St., Edwardsville

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Hours of Earned Credit: 5

Cost: No charge (lunch on your own)

Presenter: Megan McDowell, Angela Reeter, and Mary Adams

Participants in this workshop will learn about the impact of developmental trauma on the brain, it’s relationship to mental health, and how it manifests itself in the classroom setting. The presenters will make a case for a perspective shift from asking “what is wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?” as an essential component to successfully address the students’ needs. Trauma sensitive classroom strategies will be shared with participants that can be taken back to the classroom to implement immediately.

Click HERE for a flyer or click HERE to register.

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 www.kahoks.org, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@CUSD10).

4 New Teacher/Administrator ROE 41 Workshops for 2018!

Below are 4 new workshops for teachers/administrators for 2018.

  1. Project Wild! 2 Day K-12 Cross-curricular NGSS Workshop!

    Who: K-12 Teachers and Administrators

    When: Wednesday, January 31 AND Wednesday, February 28, 2018

    (must attend both days)

    Where: Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities,

    1210 N. Main St., Edwardsville

    Time: 9:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.

    Hours of Earned Credit: 14

    Cost: No charge (lunch on your own)

    Presenter: Marvin Warner, former Director of School Improvement, ROE #41

    Synopsis: Learn to Integrate Environmental Education, Literature, Math, and Social Science into your existing curriculum with nature as your medium. Teachers will engage in hands-on, inquiry-based, and cooperative learning strategies that encourage higher-order reasoning skills.

    Click HERE to download a flyer for this workshop. Register HERE.

    2. Growing Up Wild! and Early Childhood Experiences in Project Learning Tree

    PreK-2 Cross-curricular NGSS Workshop

    Who: PreK-2 Teachers and Administrators

    When: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    Where: Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities 1210 N. Main St., Edwardsville

    Time: 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    Hours of Earned Credit: 6

    Cost: No charge (lunch on your own)

    Presenter: Marvin Warner, former Director of School Improvement, ROE #41

    Synopsis: This preschool/early childhood science workshop will help build on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them. Teachers will receive two activity guides with field tested, hands-on, nature-based, ready-made thematic units.

    Click HERE to download a flyer for this workshop. Register HERE.

    3. Project Learning Tree – 2 Day K-8 Cross-curricular NGSS Workshop

    Who: K-8 Teachers and Administrators

    When: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 AND

    Tuesday, June 5, 2018

    (must attend both days)

    Where: Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities

    1210 N. Main St., Edwardsville

    Time: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    Hours of Earned Credit: 14

    Cost: No charge (lunch on your own)

    Presenter: Marvin Warner, former Director of School Improvement, ROE #41

    Synopsis: Learn to Integrate Environmental Education, Literature, Math, and Social Science into your existing curriculum with nature as your medium. Teachers will engage in hands-on, inquiry-based, and cooperative learning strategies that encourage higher-order reasoning skills.

    Click HERE to download a flyer for this workshop. Register HERE.

    4. Ready? Set? Engage!

    Who: K-8 Teachers and Administrators

    When: Wednesday, January 24, 2018

  Where: Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities, 1210 N. Main St., Edwardsville

  Time: 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

  Hours of Earned Credit: 5.5

  Cost: No charge (lunch on your own)

  Presenter: Dr. Kelly West

 Synopsis: This interactive workshop will provide strategies to INCREASE student       ENGAGEment in grades K-8. Participants will also examine and explore student-   created assessment opportunities while acquiring classroom management strategies.   Please bring along 1 assessment sample and join us as we get READY to SET our   time learning some new tools in your classroom to ENGAGE your students!

Click HERE to download a flyer for this workshop. Register HERE.

Have a great Thanksgiving from your friends at the Madison County Regional Office of Education!

Mind/Shift: How Making Art Helps Teens Better Understand Their Mental Health

moodmandala-768x464The benefits of art in a child’s education are widespread. Art can help kids express themselves and understand the world around them. Art is usually a hands-on experience and fun. For low-income students, studies have found that kids who have more arts education in school see long-term benefits by both academic and social standards.

Tori Wardrip, an art teacher at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Billings, Montana, wanted to explore the benefits of art more deeply while addressing some of the mental health issues she saw students experiencing.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

eSchool News: 5 big takeaways from redesigning learning spaces

interactive-classroom-600x400The U.S. Department of Education and the Illinois State Board of Education had already recognized our schools in Kildeer Countryside Community Consolidated School District 96 in southern Lake County, Illinois, for academic excellence. Still, our district administrators recognized several years ago that significant changes needed to be made to our classrooms, and better technology needed to be acquired, in order to help our students develop the skills mandated by today’s educational standards including effective communication and collaboration.

To that end, we turned our attention to rethinking and redesigning our classroom learning spaces to fit the 21st century needs of our students.

Please read the rest of the article HERE.

November ROE 41 Workshop/Academy Reminders


This is just a reminder about our upcoming workshops and academies for November.

Administrator Academy – Leveraging Cultural Differences to Promote Diversity and Equity – AA #1860 – Thursday, November 9, 2017

By acknowledging and valuing diverse cultural backgrounds, educators can devise instructional lessons and activities that contextualize critical content and skills within students’ everyday lives. Through this process, educators and students learn more about one another in safe, respectful environments that promote pro-social behavior, reduce bullying, spark intrinsic motivation, increase home-school connection, and close opportunity gaps through personalized learning. This session offers strategies school leaders and teachers can transfer immediately into their buildings and classrooms to reach and engage learners of all cultures, ages, and abilities.
Click HERE for a flyer and click HERE to register.

The Art of Communication – Body Language and Other Essential Skills – Monday, November 6, 2017

This workshop will explore essential skills educators need to effectively communicate with both students, parents and colleagues. Using the “Super Six” as a base, this highly interactive workshop combines theory, activity and the opportunity for participants to examine their current skill level and those areas in need of practice.
Click HERE for a flyer or click HERE to register.