Friday Feature: Cindy Steele, Special Education Coordinator
by Mary Ann Mitchell, public relations and communications coordinator
District #7 special education coordinator Cindy Steele has always had a passion for children, their well-being and happiness.
She has been with the district for 29 years, joining the D7 family as a school psychologist before moving into her current role in 2006.
“I have been fortunate in my role. It has allowed me to work as part of a team, which is critical in problem-solving and student needs. I get to look at different issues through the lenses of parents, teachers, administrators, and the child.”
Steele has always had an interest in mental health and while working in a psychiatric hospital for children, knew she wanted to concentrate on school psychology.
“Working on the different units in the hospital setting, one of the common themes of all the children was their educational experience and how they struggled in school because of the needs they had. I knew I wanted to do psychology in an education setting. It is such an important part of student’s life.”
Throughout her career, she has been able to work towards the well-being and happiness of students in a variety of ways.
“I have a bunch of passions within that overarching passion for kids and that includes social-emotional health. The impact I hope to leave is helping to develop programs for kids and systems of support that allows them to recognize their strengths and celebrate what they are good at and their impact on the world, while also giving them the skills and tools to navigate all the challenges.”
Another passion of Steel’s is reading and helping kids unlock the code and developing programs for students with developmental disabilities, specific learning abilities and medically fragile children.
Steele said she has been fortunate to work with many different teams across all school buildings as well individuals throughout the community.
“I’ve had the privilege of partnering with SIUE and their school psychology department when we built a program for students with autism spectrum disorder and are now working with SIUE to develop multi-tiered systems of support.”
She has also been able to work with law enforcement partners, school resource officers, nurses, and even bus drivers and transportation team members.
“Edwardsville and this community have a lot of compassionate people who are dedicated to what they are doing. I love my job and it can be challenging at times, but I have always felt very supported because of the people alongside me that share the same passion for kids.”
Steele said the most rewarding part of her job is seeing a program developed that has a significant impact on a student.
“I want every child to feel successful here, which is part of our mission statement. Seeing their successes and making sure they also see those successes is so rewarding.”
Upcoming District #7 Bond Proposal
March 13, 2023
Dear District #7 families,
In a few short weeks, residents in our community will vote on April 4 on our district’s zero-tax-rate-change bond issue. We will continue to share information, but I wanted you to know just a little more about what this proposal will do for our schools, our students, and our community.
Many of our schools are aging and in need of critical improvements. Our bond proposal will also fund important safety and security improvements at every District #7 school. Here is a list of some of the projects the bond proposal will provide:
- Upgrade safety and security, including secure double entry doors, at all District #7 schools.
- Repair and renovate building infrastructure items including roofs, windows, doors, floors, HVAC and plumbing and electrical systems at Lincoln Middle, Hamel and Midway elementaries and other schools where needed.
- Partially renovate and rebuild our century old historic high school building that now serves as Lincoln Middle School.
- Remediation of asbestos and construction of new classrooms and gymnasium at Hamel Elementary School.
- Complete repairs related to moisture infiltration and possible settlement at Midway Elementary.
- Complete an addition of 7,000 square feet to the Commons at Edwardsville High School.
Our District has a unique opportunity to complete the needed building updates without increasing the portion of the tax rate residents pay towards retiring school debt if the bond proposal is approved.
Thank you for sharing information about the proposal with your neighbors and friends. It is important for everyone to be informed. For more information on the bond proposal, including an FAQ and a list of projects by school, please visit www.ecusd7.org/bond.
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
Friday Feature: Marcie Dixon, Columbus SLP
While in junior high, Marcie Dixon, the speech-language pathologist at Columbus Elementary, visited her grandmother who had a stroke and was hospitalized. During that visit, she encountered a speech-language pathologist for the first time and developed a keen interest in learning more about the field.
“I vividly recall having difficulty understanding my grandmother’s speech due to significant right-sided hemiparesis. The speech-language pathologist at the hospital came to work with her, preforming various speech, memory, and swallowing exercises.”
Dixon said she asked many questions, and the speech-language pathologist thoroughly explained the effects of her grandmothers’ stroke and her role in rehabilitating speech, cognition, and swallowing.
“From that moment on, I was intrigued to learn more about the field and the pathway to pursue a career in speech-language pathology.”
This is Dixon’s 13th year working in the profession and her fourth working at Columbus. The previous three years she split her time providing services at Woodland and Columbus. The EHS alum returned to Edwardsville after living in Chicago to be closer to family and loved ones.
Throughout her career, Dixon has worked in several different settings including early intervention, private practice, K- 12 schools, hospitals, and acute inpatient rehabilitation.
“Each setting offered unique experiences, but I prefer the school setting overall. The most rewarding aspects of being a school-based speech-language pathologist are working with children that have various communication needs and abilities, helping establish the foundational skills necessary for effective speech and language, fostering positive relationships with my students and their families, providing on-going support and encouragement, working with collaborative teams, and witnessing the growth in my students over the years with communication and language skills that are beneficial academically, socially, and throughout their lives.”
This summer, Dixon will return to Chicago to attend the high school graduation of a former student she worked with six years ago.
“I am honored to be invited, and it is moments like this that solidify the positive and lasting impact I can have in the lives of my students.”
Friday Feature: Jillian Lemons, Leclaire Social Worker
Leclaire Elementary social worker Jillian Lemons always knew she wanted to be a teacher or a social worker, and in college earned a bachelor’s degree in English with plans to teach high school afterwards.
“However, I quickly realized that I didn’t have the passion for literature like I did for helping kids through all the hard things, and sometimes the very traumatic events, that life throws at each of us. I do, though, highly value education. Through our schools we have an incredible ability to teach and advocate for all children. I love that I can assist children learn by helping them break through and cope with the barriers that would otherwise stand in their way to do so.”
Lemons is in her third year with District #7 and in her first year full-time at Leclaire after previously splitting time between Leclaire and Nelson.
“While I miss the students and staff at Nelson, it has been wonderful to have the time to be consistently present and available for the students and staff at Leclaire. I absolutely love my Leclaire family and my team. Everyone is so supportive of each other, and it overflows into the love we have for our kids.”
Lemons was also certain middle school was the age she wanted to work with, but since being in K-2, there is now no other age group she would rather be with.
“I absolutely love and adore our little people at Leclaire. Their love of school, pure hearts, and willingness to learn and help one another is incredible. I feel lucky to be part of their first school experience.”
Being in her third year, she is in awe of the growth made by the students she is fortunate enough to work with regularly.
“There is nothing more rewarding than walking down the halls and hearing their little voices say, ‘hi, Mrs. Lemons!’ with so much enthusiasm. I have also worked closely with and learned from some of the greatest educators, from our specialized programs at Leclaire to our general education rooms. Leclaire has most definitely become my second home, and there is no place I would rather be!”
EHS Senior Named Illinois Journalist of the Year
EHS senior Caspar Dowdy has been named the Illinois Journalist of the Year by the Illinois Journalism Education Association, the highest honor the organization awards a student journalist. Applicants had to submit portfolios of their work demonstrating expertise/experience in numerous areas, including writing and reporting; editing, leadership, and team building; web and social media; design; broadcast journalism; photojournalism; law, ethics, and news literacy; marketing and audience engagement; and commitment to diversity.
Caspar spent approximately 80 hours preparing a digital portfolio between November and the deadline in February and will now represent the state in the national JEA contest. Only one student is awarded this honor in the state of Illinois per year, and Caspar is the first EHS student and student south of Champaign ever to win this award.
S&P Upgrades Credit Rating for District
District #7 has announced the S&P Global Ratings has raised its underlying rating on the district’s general obligation debt two notches to A- from BBB.
A higher bond rating typically allows the borrower to enjoy lower interest rates, which could result in the savings for the average taxpayer in District #7.
According to the S&P, the upgrade reflects the district’s improved financial profile, fueled by a permanent voter-approved tax rate increase and higher funding from the state, which have resulted in very strong operating results in each of the past five years and similar results anticipated at the end of fiscal 2023.
Pratt Wins State Title in Girls Wrestling
Congratulations to Edwardsville High School sophomore Mackenzie Pratt who won the girls wrestling state championship at 140 pounds! The championship is the first in the two-year history of the girls program.
Pratt, who was state runner-up last year, pinned Goreville junior Alivia Ming in 1:07 to claim the title on Saturday in Bloomington, Ill. Pratt finishes the year with a 30-1 record.
Friday Feature: Brian Beatty, H/VAC Foreman
by Mary Ann Mitchell, Public Relations & Communications Coordinator
For 18 years, H/VAC foreman Brian Beatty has been keeping the temperature just right in district buildings.
“I love being able to come into a hot or cold room and help save the day for that teacher, staff member or students. They really appreciate when we work as quickly as we can to provide a comfortable atmosphere for them to be able to teach, and for the kids to be able to focus properly on what they need to learn that day.”
Beatty always wanted to help people in some way and wanted to work in a field that could not only help people, but that would allow him a skill to provide for his family multiple ways.
In his second year at Ranken Technical College where he was pursuing a degree in H/VAC Technology, District #7 reached out to students and as he said, one thing led to another, and he got the job. That was January 2005.
“For half a semester, I went to school and worked evenings for the district until I graduated with my degree. District #7 accommodated my schedule and let me work in maintenance at night until I earned my degree and could start days as a H/VAC technician.”
After 13 years as an H/VAC technician, he was promoted to H/VAC foreman in 2018.
In addition to being able to provide temperature comfort, the thing he enjoys the most about his job is the opportunity to work for a team that values hard work.
“That is what we do in our maintenance office – we work as a team to solve problems together. We have a wonderful team of leaders in that office and our goal is always to work hard to serve our students.”
Beatty says he will forever be grateful for District #7 and his superiors throughout his career.
“I started with District #7 when I was 19 years old, and since then I have also met and married my wife and have two wonderful sons, who currently attend D7 schools. This district has been a vital part of my success thus far and for that, I am forever grateful. I love how they view hard work and support the staff. It has truly been a wonderful 18 years.”
Lincoln Informational Night & Open House
District 7 will hold an informational night and open house at Lincoln Middle School on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. for community members to learn more about how the zero-tax-rate-change bond, if passed, would address needed renovations and a partial rebuild of the aging school building.
District 7 will have a $100 million zero-tax-rate change bond referendum on the April 4, 2023, ballot. If passed, the district would be able to issue $100 million in bonds to address essential safety and security upgrades, identified facility needs and other identified critical maintenance. While some schools require more repair and renovation than others, every student attending school in our district will improve from improved school buildings.
The informational night will begin with a presentation in the auditorium that will include architectural plans for Lincoln. District leaders, staff, and students will then be on hand to give tours of Lincoln.
“All of our schools, including Lincoln, are our community’s schools and we want everyone to be able to ask as many questions and learn as much information as they can. We want people who have not been in the building for a while to see it.” said Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton. “Lincoln has served our community for many years. It is now time for major renovations and repairs so the building can serve our community for many more years to come.”
The bond development process has been community-driven from the beginning with Engage District 7 being formed and several community engagement sessions being held to help to prioritize district needs. The committee consisted of school staff, parents and community and business partners. The Board of Education accepted the committee’s recommendations for a bond proposal and unanimously voted to put the bond measure on the April 4 ballot.
Friday Feature: Leah Gibbs, Goshen head cook
by Mary Ann Mitchell, Public Relations & Communications Coordinator
One does not always stop and think about the impact a nutritious meal has on a student in the classroom, but school meals are critical to students’ well-being and readiness to learn. That is where people like Leah Gibbs, head cook at Goshen Elementary, come in.
“Every role in District 7 is important to the students’ lives. I feel like our role in the kitchen is to provide nutritious meals for the kiddos to ensure they can focus in the classroom.”
Gibbs has been with the district since 2011.
“What brought me to the district was the need to be able to help my son with his needs and to be able to help him be as successful in school as he could be. The school hours were perfect for that.”
Gibbs’ son has since graduated, but she has grown to love the District #7 community, her co-workers, all the teachers and staff, and of course, the kids.
“The kids at this grade level always make me smile, either with a handmade drawing, a thank you note or a funny little joke. They really make my day!”
In being the head cook, Gibbs says she has learned quite a bit about the innerworkings of managing a kitchen and over the years has created a good rapport with both her co-workers and the kids.
“In addition to the kids, I also really enjoy my co-workers – we manage to keep it fun in the kitchen.”
Gibbs and her staff begin their day by preparing breakfast for around 115 kids each morning and prepare snacks for the preschool and Kid Zone programs before moving on to lunch prep.
“It’s a lot of repetition, but that is something I enjoy about the job.”
EHS Summer School 2023 Enrollment & General Information
Due to construction at Edwardsville High School, all Summer School 2023 classes will be at Liberty Middle School.
Enrollment for Summer School 2023 will open at 8:00 a.m. on February 13, 2023, and close at 5:00 p.m. on April 21, 2023. You will need your student’s ID number (found in TigerView) to enroll for courses.
Students will be enrolled on a first-come, first-serve basis by their completed enrollment date and time.
$180 per course (no cost for students receiving free or reduced lunch)
There is no cost for Classroom Drivers Education.
You will be billed once enrollment is confirmed.
Friday, June 9, 2023 – Teacher Workday
Monday, June 12, 2023 – First Day of Student Attendance
Monday, June 19, 2023 – No School, Juneteenth Holiday
Tuesday, July 4, 2023 – No School, Independence Day
Friday, July 21, 2023 – Last Day for 6-Week Classes
Six Week Course Options: (June 12 – July 21)
7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Medieval World History
10:10 a.m. – 12:40 p.m.
Research & Analysis of Sports in Literature
7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Classroom Drivers Education***
8:35 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.
Classroom Drivers Education***
***Students enrolled in Classroom Drivers Education must have completed 9th grade, have at least 4.0 credits, and be 15 years old by July 23, 2023.***
Three Week Course Options: (June 12 – June 30)
7:30 a.m. – 12:40 p.m.
US History – Semester 1
Three Week Course Options: (July 3 – July 21)
7:30 a.m. – 12:40 p.m.
US History – Semester 2
CIVICS 0.5 Credit
Grade: 9, 10
Civics is a one-semester required course designed to prepare students to be active participants in the democratic process. The government of the United States is compared to other forms of government. Students are required to pass tests on the US and Illinois Constitutions to meet graduation requirements. The Illinois and US Constitution tests are given as part of this course.
WORLD GEOGRAPHY 0.5 Credit
Grade: 9, 10
In this course, the five themes of geography (location, place, human/environment interaction, movement, and regions) are applied to regions around the world and across all continents. Emphasis is on physical and human geography and incorporates current issues and events. Through this course students will also have a better understanding of the increased globalization of the world. This course fulfills a graduation requirement.
CLASSROOM DRIVER EDUCATION 0.25 Credit
If you have finished your freshman year, have successfully passed the equivalent of four year-long courses, and will be age fifteen by July 17, you are eligible to take this class. A graduation requirement, Classroom Driver Education prepares the student to drive safely and skillfully operate a motor vehicle. A student must, according to state law, be in attendance a minimum of 30 classroom hours and maintain a passing grade to complete the requirement. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.
HEALTH 0.5 Credit
Health is a course required of all students at the sophomore level. The focus of this class is to provide information on health issues that would enable students to make healthy decisions based on their total well-being. A variety of topics will be covered, including: CPR, responsible decision-making, weight management, mental and emotional wellbeing, stress management, substance abuse, violence prevention, sexuality, AIDS and other STD’s, and disease prevention
SEMESTER PE 0.5 Credit
Grade: 9, 10
Physical Education at EHS is designed to enhance the student’s overall fitness and appreciation of physical activity. The focus of physical education classes is on cardiovascular endurance, increased strength and improved flexibility as well as a development of skills in a wide range of activities. Classes will teach entry-level skills as well as lifetime fitness principles in a fun-filled, non-threatening environment. All students are expected to participate in class unless excused by a doctor. Grades are based on attendance, participation, skill, and written tests.
WELLNESS 0.25 Credit
The units within this class include CPR and various other Wellness Activities. Completing the CPR unit is a graduation requirement and students may have the opportunity to be certified or re-certified in CPR while in this course.
US HISTORY A (1st semester) and B (2nd semester) 0.5 Credit
Grade: 11, 12
First semester (A) and second semester (B) of United States History are required for junior level students and fulfill a graduation requirement. These courses (A and B) are recommended to be taken together and enable students to gain a better understanding of how the American society developed.
CONSUMER EDUCATION 0.5 Credit
This course is required for graduation and provides practical, usable knowledge from which the students can benefit as they move into the rigors and demands of independent adult living. Students will examine and research major buying decisions such as auto, housing, furniture, etc. Consumer Education provides training in insurance buying, credit buying, banking activities, investments, budgeting, and decision-making.
RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS OF SPORTS IN LITERATURE/LITERARY NON-FICTION [R] 0.5 Credit
Grade: 11, 12
Research and Analysis of Sports in Literature/Literary Non-Fiction is a one-semester course composed of high- interest fiction and non-fiction, including novels, biographies, memoirs, poetry, and short pieces of literature and literary nonfiction. Literary works contain an emphasis in sport and competition. Writing experiences are linked to classic issues and themes, including fame, character, prejudice, and societal influence, and focus on the development of composition. A research paper is required, and all written work is subject to class presentation.
MEDIEVAL WORLD HISTORY 0.5 Credit
Grade: 9, 10, 11, 12
Medieval World History traces the development of the Middle Ages civilizations, including Byzantium, Arabia, China, Japan, England, France, and the Americas. These include thee fall of Rome through the Renaissance and the development of Feudalism through Monarchy. Each unit involves a review of major events, historical figures, geographical details, and cultural advances. The course includes discussions of economic, political, and cultural changes as well as an analysis and comparison of historical events.
Lincoln School Alumni Foundation to Help Fund District #7 Home-School Liaison
The Lincoln School Alumni Foundation has generously provided Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 with funding to employ a part-time home-school liaison.
The liaison will be responsible for working collaboratively with families and community partners to ensure the needs of the whole child are being met, while supporting parents/guardians in addressing family needs, social/emotional and academic needs of the student in the home setting, as well as partnering with the educators serving the child.
“Part of the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation’s mission is to help under resourced students across the district. Their generosity enables the district to help provide additional resources and opportunities to students who need it the most,” said District #7 Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton.
“The historic Lincoln School Alumni Foundation is very much aware of District #7’s effort to improve our students’ reading skills,” said LSAF president Herman Shaw. “We will continue to support District #7’s efforts to help all students and through this program.”
Pictured, from left to right: Dustin Jumper (LSAF Vice-President), Physhawne Donald (LSAF Board Member), Herman Shaw (LASF President), Dr. Patrick Shelton (District #7 Superintendent) and Dr. Cornelia Smith (District #7 Director of DEI and Elementary Education).
EHS Students Work to Solve “Murder”
EHS Honors Biology and AP Biology students were hard at work last week trying to solve a murder during its annual CSI unit.
Since 2004, Mrs. Julia Doll, EHS science teacher, has been coordinating this yearly activity.
“Throughout the years, we’ve learned lessons on different things and have come up with different ways to keep evolving it to where it is today.”
It’s a unit that Doll relies heavily on others for as well. The school’s SROs are the officers on scene, while drama and theater provide the dead body and other individuals and are tasked with the make-up, the set, lighting, and sounds. Journalism and yearbook have also been part of the cross-curricular event.
The CSI unit begins with the scene day in which students learn of the dead body and have an hour to examine the scene by collecting evidence, taking pictures, and conducting interviews.
Doll even makes the scene as real as possible, making it dark before rain and thunder set in, which forces the students to work faster, but by still being accurate and efficient.
The next part of the activity is referred to as lab day where they are split into various groups to study the forensics through DNA, gels, solutions, footprints, fingerprints, hair, and blood spatter. As they work, they can ask questions to obtain more information to help them figure out who committed the crime.
“Sometimes they do solve it. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they don’t have enough information and have just circumstantial evidence,” said Doll. “They always want to assume, but we have to remind them they need factual information. This really takes them to a higher level of thinking.”
The unit also gives them other life lessons.
“Learning to adapt to different situations, working with people they may not know, stepping outside their comfort zone in tasks they are not comfortable with,” said Doll. “CSI is essentially deductive reasoning and that is something we use in all parts of our life – not just solving a murder.”
Winter Weather Announcement (1/30/23)
Winter weather has caused hazardous road conditions in the District 7 area this morning and as a result, classes at all District 7 schools have been cancelled today, Monday, January 30, 2023. This will be a true snow day and no e-learning will take place.
Announcements regarding after school activities and events will be communicated through coaches and sponsors.
Friday Feature: Darian Brown, Midway SSO
Darian Brown is in his first year as an SSO (school safety officer) at Midway Elementary after a 27-year law enforcement career that included 22 years with the Department of Homeland Security.
“It was a good career, but it was time to retire. It was a stressful job.”
During his time with Homeland Security, Brown worked with ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) and homeland security investigations and held a variety of roles from being head of firearm training to running the federal court program.
“In my last seven years before retiring at the end of 2019, I ran a fugitive unit where I worked with the international police federation to track down foreign born criminals. The section I was in was with human rights violators in other countries that fled to the US.”
His career took him to 30-40 different countries as he returned individuals to their home country.
“I got to see a lot of the world. And that’s what I tell a lot of students – go see the world. I loved traveling. Austria was my favorite, but you also got to see how others live and many times I was always glad to come back to the US, especially after being on the streets in Bangladesh or in India.”
Brown had never planned to go into law enforcement. The one thing he always wanted to do was go into the Air Force after graduating from college, which he did.
“When I was going into the Air Force, I had a health and wellness background and was planning on a healthcare administration track, but when I got a piece of paper with three choices of career fields, I saw law enforcement and at the last minute asked if I could change it.”
Brown was with the Air Force Security Forces for five years, living in Panama for three of those years. He also spent a year as a deputy sheriff in Idaho for a year after his time with the Air Force.
While he’s gone from dealing with criminals to working with some of the district’s youngest learners, Brown said there is more crossover than one might think.
“Dealing with groups of people and being able to diffuse situations and deal with conflict resolution. I’m also still talking to people every day and working with families, just in a different setting.”
It’s also been a great change of pace for Brown, who always said when he retired, he wasn’t going to have a job where he’d have a phone or tablet, where he’d get calls or messages 24/7, which was the case with Homeland Security.
“Here I can be concerned about what’s going on today and when the bell rings, I get to go home.”
Brown was a substitute teacher in the Belleville School District last year, and at one point, even spent two weeks in a kindergarten classroom, but wanted to switch things up this year, which brought him too Midway.
“Everyone at Midway has been so welcoming. I enjoy the family atmosphere here and being able to support the teachers and staff when they need it. I love environments conducive to learning.”
Winter Weather Announcement
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning beginning at 6 p.m. this evening, indicating snow fall of 4-9 inches. These conditions have the potential to make hazardous road conditions. As a result, classes at all District 7 schools will be canceled for tomorrow, Wednesday, January 25, 2023. This will be a true snow day and no e-Learning will be taking place at this time.
An announcement regarding any after school or evening activities will be communicated by coaches or sponsors.
Thank you and be safe!
January 24, 2023 | 6:00 p.m.
2023-2024 School Calendar Approved
At Monday night’s regular meeting, the Board of Education approved the 2023-2024 school calendar.
The first date of student attendance will be Wednesday, August 16, 2023 (half day), while the last day will be Friday, May 24, 2024 (half day), unless emergency days are used. Each Wednesday will continue to be an early release.
Other highlights of the 2023-2024 calendar include:
The 2023-2024 school calendar also includes the following:
- Teacher Institutes on August 14, 15 & 16, 2023
- Teacher In-Service on October 13, 2023 – NO STUDENT ATTENDANCE (PM)
- Teacher Institute on October 20, 2023 – NO STUDENT ATTENDANCE
- Thanksgiving Break – November 22, 23, and 24, 2023
- Holiday Break – December 21, 2023, through January 2, 2024
- Teacher Institute on January 3, 2024 – NO STUDENT ATTENDANCE
- Students return to school – January 4, 2024
- Spring Break – March 25 through April 1, 2024
- Students return to school – April 2, 2024
- 5 emergency days – May 28 through June 3, 2024 (if needed)
- High School Graduation – June 1, 2024
Additionally, a draft of the 2024-2025 calendar has been constructed.
Thank you to everyone who provided input and feedback during our calendar survey in November. That information helped in the development of these calendars.
Stories on the Move Returns to District 7 Buses
In 2019, District 7 partnered with the Edwardsville Public Library and First Student Bus Transportation Company to increase student access to books and awareness of the power of reading in hopes to grow enthusiastic readers.
Stories on the Move, a program that puts books donated from the Edwardsville Public Library on 15 District 7 buses, emerged out of this collaborative effort. The concept is simple. Children are offered a book as they enter the bus. They can choose to read it on the bus, put it back at the end of their trip, or take it home to help build their home libraries. The book does not need to be returned.
Unfortunately, Stories on the Move was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the support through a donation from Dieterich Bank, this initiative comes alive again beginning this week.
This collaboration between community entities such as Dieterich Bank, the Edwardsville Public Library, First Student Bus Transportation Company and District 7 is just one of many ways the community works together for the good of our children.
Friday Feature: Melissa McKaig, Occupational Therapist
Being an occupational therapist in the school setting allows Melissa McKaig the opportunity to work with a variety of ages and skill sets and to have fun while doing so.
“The best part is that I get to disguise my work as ‘play’ to motivate my younger students and to collaborate on goals with the older ones.”
McKaig came to District 7 in 2011 after previously working in Missouri in an outpatient head injury clinic. She works with students at Leclaire, Hamel, Midway, Worden, Columbus, Liberty and EHS.
“Working with kids has always been my passion, so I was ecstatic when an occupational therapy position opened with D7.”
In her position, McKaig supports a students’ ability to participate in daily school activities or “occupations”.
“OT services support a student’s achievement in the areas of play/leisure, academics, self-care, social participation, and transition/work skills. By focusing on the students’ strengths, we help design and implement programming to improve inclusion and accessibility.”
The occupational therapy field incorporates McKaig’s passion to help others and to think outside the box to develop goals meaningful to the individual.
“I love how versatile the field is, in that we can work with all ages and address various skills to increase independence. Every person is different, so the job is never boring.”
Just as every person is different, so is every day.
“Since I travel to different buildings, I get to work with different grade levels and also get to learn from and communicate ideas with our amazing educators.”
Because of the students she works with, her position does not feel like a job.
“Their energy and enthusiasm make the day fun! They motivate me to continuously find creative ways to work on difficult skills. They teach me something new each treatment session and reward my efforts with their progress.”
Friday Feature: Mark Tschudy, Lincoln Prevention Counselor
by Mary Ann Mitchell, Public Relations & Communications Coordinator
Mark Tschudy is a one-stop shop of support for kids. From student safety to helping students through social and emotional situations, Tschudy is one of the few that has the privilege of working with students in many different situations and at many different levels.
Tschudy is the prevention counselor at Lincoln Middle School. He’s been with the district since 2006 and until the last four years split time between Liberty and Lincoln.
“When I started, this role was setting up positive activities for kids, after school volunteering, getting parents connected with the school and trying to give students a voice in the building. Then when I moved to just Lincoln, they included the general education counseling in it as well.”
Even though it may be an expanded role, Tschudy said it’s been beneficial for students.
“Any student in the building knows they can come here to get support for anything. It’s not just coming to see the counselor. It’s where they go if they want to start a new program or a new club, or if they just need every day help with something.”
Tschudy didn’t always know this was the route he was going to take, but has always known he’s wanted to work with middle schoolers.
“I think they are the most unique population and have such an incredible outlook on life. After a while, counseling just became something that I knew would get me connected to kids and would allow me to interact with them. I get to know kids as individuals and as humans and try and get them to work towards values and ideas that are important both inside and outside of school.”
Tschudy is grateful for all the opportunities District 7 has allowed him and the student connections he’s been able to build.
“Students feeling connected to their building and developing a sense of ‘belonging’ is tremendously important. Being involved in FIT/GO, counseling, coaching, and the new house systems has really provided me with opportunities to build those connections. Getting kids excited about their education, whether that’s through building relationships, offering support when needed, or helping them access sports and clubs is so important. The highlight of my job is being able to provide our students with activities they look forward to.”
Board of Education Approves Bond Referendum
January 9, 2023
Dear District #7 community,
Earlier this evening, the Board of Education voted unanimously to put a $100 million zero-tax-rate change bond referendum on the April 4, 2023, ballot, aimed at improving school safety and the infrastructure of District 7 buildings.
If the referendum is approved by voters in April, District #7 would:
- Install double-entry doors for improved safety and security at seven schools, which would result in secure double entry at each of the district’s 13 schools. This also includes double entry at Nelson Elementary School and relocating the office space to the two classrooms just inside the main entrance. The current office space would then become classrooms.
- Renovate and rebuild Lincoln Middle School on its existing site by retaining the 1925 building.
- Remediate the asbestos and build a new wing of classrooms at Hamel Elementary School.
- Allocate up to $2,000,000 for repairs at Midway Elementary School.
- Expand the commons at Edwardsville High School.
- Provide safe and accessible playgrounds at all primary and intermediate schools.
- Provide safe and accessible gymnasiums at Leclaire, Glen Carbon and Columbus elementary schools.
- Create media centers at Columbus Elementary School, Woodland Elementary School, and Edwardsville High School.
We have continued to work with the architects and construction management firms we have partnered with to refine the projects in a way that will maximize the use of taxpayer dollars and allow the district to accomplish the most possible. This means that those projects at the top of the list will be given priority, while those at the bottom will be done if funding is available. Given that the district will take 4-5 years to utilize all the funds, being able to predict pricing for some projects leaves them as tentative projects.
The district’s current tax rate is $4.6829. Approval of the bond referendum would not change the bond and interest tax levy.
The referendum question that will appear on the ballot will read:
Shall the Board of Education of Edwardsville Community Unit School District Number 7, Madison County, Illinois, improve the sites of, build and equip additions to and alter, repair, and equip school buildings, including constructing security improvements and secured entryways, and issue bonds of said School District to the amount of $100,000,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?
The referendum will be on the ballot on April 4, 2023. Early voting begins February 23, 2023.
We look forward to sharing more throughout this process.
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
Internet Safety Parent Information Night
District #7 will host a “What Parents Need to Know About Internet Safety” presentation on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, at 6 p.m. in the EHS Auditorium.
Alyssa Castlemann of the Office of Illinois Attorney General Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force will be the special guest speaker.
The targeted audience is for 3rd-8th grade parents/guardians. Seating is limited and those interested in attending should RSVP here. Due to the content covered, children are recommended to not attend.
Students Artwork Selected for District’s Holiday Cards
This year, the District office held a contest for students to design the holiday card that would be sent from the Board of Education.
Four were selected from the hundreds of designs that were submitted.
Thank you to each student who submitted a design. There are a lot of amazingly talented artists at all grade levels.
Here were the four selected:
Diana Venelinova, EHS
Ava Carter, Liberty
Elornam Kraka, Leclaire
Emma Pautz, Worden
Engage District 7 Final Report & Recommendations
Watch the video version of this communication HERE.
December 16, 2022
Dear District #7 community,
Last Monday, the Board of Education held a special meeting to hear the final report and recommendations for a facility plan from the Engage District 7 facilitating team.
For the past four months, over 250 individuals from the District #7 community have been working to put together a plan on how to meet the facility needs for all District #7 students, now and in the future. The community engagement process provided valuable information for Engage District 7’s final recommendations.
To make these recommendations a reality and to address the identified needs in District #7, the facilitating team recommended the Board of Education place a bond proposal for building repairs and improvement on the April 4, 2023, ballot that would provide a zero-tax rate increase on the current debt service levy. This bond proposal would address the projects which were prioritized through community engagement sessions.
The projects include:
- Installing double-entry doors for improved safety and security at seven schools (Glen Carbon, Leclaire, Nelson, Columbus and Woodland elementary schools, Lincoln Middle School, and Edwardsville High School), which would result in secure double entries at each of the district’s 13 schools.
- Rebuilding Lincoln Middle School on its existing site with the goal of retaining the 1925 building, and with other sections being deconstructed, then occupied through construction phased over a 36-to-42-month period.
- Conducting a second engineering survey/report specifically for Midway Elementary School and developing a plan for Midway Elementary School based on community priorities and additional information obtained.
- Remediating asbestos and building new classrooms, gymnasium, and entry at Hamel Elementary School.
- Expanding the commons at Edwardsville High School.
- Relocating the office at Nelson Elementary School.
- Providing safe and accessible playgrounds at all primary and intermediate schools.
- Providing safe and accessible gymnasiums at Leclaire, Glen Carbon and Columbus elementary schools.
- Updating media centers at Columbus and Woodland elementary schools and building a new media center at Edwardsville High School.
The projected cost of completing all projects is approximately $100 million, which would be accomplished through a bond proposal that would not increase the debt tax rate currently in place.
The Board of Education will discuss the final report and recommendations at their monthly board meeting this Monday, December 19, 2022, at 7 p.m. and will be voting on the recommendations on Monday, January 9, 2023, at a special board meeting at 5:30 p.m. If you are unable to make either of these meetings, they will be streamed on the District’s Facebook page.
You may also find more information at EngageDistrict7.org.
We hope you have a great holiday season and look forward to seeing you in 2023!
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
Friday Feature: Lynn Padgett, Liberty Receptionist/Records Secretary
After relocating to Edwardsville in 2000 to be closer to family, Liberty receptionist/records secretary Lynn Padgett was a stay-at-home mom who was also active in the school’s PTO. She also served as a member of the District 7 Growth Committee and was a member of the CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee) when the opportunity to serve as a secretary sub within the district came about. After subbing for a few years, a permanent opening became available at Liberty in 2005. That was 17 years ago, and Padgett has been a mainstay in the front office since.
“I love the frenetic of it. I never know what each day will bring, but I know it’s always going to be fun and exciting, and I love being able to see every kid that comes through the building.”
Padget spends most days multitasking – answering the phone, getting messages to students and staff, calling students to see their respective administrator, finding subs for covering vacancies in the classroom, and scheduling events in and around the building.
“Not everyone understands that as a school secretary, how unexpected your day is. You don’t come in and have the same routine. There are certain aspects of the job that are the same, but there is never the same day. To me that is the best part. There is no routine.”
The thing that has kept Padgett in her position and at Liberty is the strong connection with the administrators, office, staff, teachers, support staff and students.
“At Liberty I am able to work with every level from students to their parents, all staff, and administrators. Every year I think it cannot get better, but it does. We are truly family.”
Padgett also loves the middle-school age group of students.
“They are figuring everything out at this age. It is inspiring to watch them change and mature from sixth to eighth grade. I hope to be able to continue to support the students and staff at Liberty Middle School for years to come.”
District 7, Local Libraries Provide Access to Each Student
For the past several months, District #7 has been working closely with the Edwardsville Public Library and other libraries in the District #7 footprint to provide every student enrolled in District #7 access to a public library card. That program is now active.
“This partnership between District #7 and the public libraries serving the school district allows us to provide access to all students,” said Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton. “This is possible due to the cooperation of the local public libraries and an Intergovernmental Agreement between District #7 and the Edwardsville Public Library to provide access to students living outside of a library taxing area.”
Student’s cards will be registered at one of the following libraries based on their home address: Edwardsville Public Library, Glen Carbon Centennial Library, Worden Public Library, Wood River Public Library, Bethalto Public Library District, Maryville Community Library and Roxana Public Library. These libraries are all part of the Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) and share resources. As a result, students will be able to check out physical books from any of the libraries listed above. Electronic resources, including e-books/audiobooks are not shared, so access to databases and e-reading apps will vary based on the library the student is registered at.
“We are excited to be able to provide District #7 students with access to additional resources which will enhance their education.”
There will be no physical cards issued by the library, instead each student’s school ID will be their library card. Information on how to use the school ID as a library card was sent to families in a district communication.
Friday Feature: Molly Deist, Goshen Reading Specialist
Molly Deist taught kindergarten and first grade for several years before deciding that her true passion was literacy.
“I remember watching students have those moments when reading clicked and I wanted to be able to spend my time focusing on helping student achieve those moments.”
Deist pursued her literacy specialist degree at SIUE and was a reading specialist in Missouri for seven years before deciding she wanted to serve the community where she lived.
“I also knew that District 7 had many amazing educators who I could learn from and many opportunities to grow professionally.”
Deist is in her sixth year as a reading specialist at Goshen but has also helped at Nelson and Glen Carbon elementary schools.
One of the reasons she decided to move from the classroom environment to a reading specialist role was that it allowed her to concentrate on one area that impacts all areas.
“Being a strong reader is the foundation for academic success and I love watching students apply the skills they’ve learned in reading club to all academic areas.”
Deist does not come from a long line of educators but has always loved working with children.
“I began working as an early childhood education major because I loved the opportunity to see students experience school for the first time.
Once she was able to get into the classroom through internships in college, Deist knew she had found the place where she belonged.
“The growth that you can see from early childhood even through just second grade is astounding. Being part of that growth is what makes my job so rewarding.”
Deist is thrilled to work for a district that embraces the science of reading as well as getting to work with some of the district’s youngest learners.
“I love being able to look at my students as a whole and have discussions about how we can best meet their needs. It is imperative that we provide our youngest students with a strong phonemic awareness and phonics foundation and the reading club is a great place to help lay that foundation. K-2 students are excited to learn every day and I feel so fortunate to be a small part of that love of learning. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to say that you truly love your job.”
Friday Feature: Lindsey Tallerico, GCE Speech Language Pathologist
by Mary Ann Mitchell, Public Relations and Communications Coordinator
From the age of 16, Lindsey Tallerico knew she wanted to be a speech language pathologist.
“I have had many SLPs in my life, including a cousin and a mother-in-law, who all spoke highly of the field and encouraged me through my education. To me, the field of speech language pathology is the perfect mix of science and linguistics.”
Tallerico is in her fourth year at Glen Carbon Elementary. It’s the second stint at Glen Carbon for the D7 alumnae, who was born and raised in Edwardsville. She is in her 19th year in District 7, having also worked at Woodland, Worden, Hamel, Columbus, Nelson, Leclaire, Goshen, and Lincoln.
While she could have gone the private practice route, it’s the collaborative aspect of the school setting that Tallerico enjoys.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with great interdisciplinary teams over the years and learned so much from colleagues.”
She also knows that communication impacts children across educational environments and wants to help those students.
“I love to target communication skills that incorporate classroom concepts or literacy skills.”
The biggest reward for Tallerico is simply helping a student communicate and advocate for their wants and needs.
“Whether it’s increasing their speech intelligibility, helping them socialize with peers, or improving their ability to answer questions in their classroom, I’m making a positive impact on their lives. And I love to hear from parents and teachers that one of my students will not stop talking!”
Throughout her career, Tallerico has worked with students of all ages, but especially enjoys working with K-2 students.
“I love their enthusiasm and energy. We sing songs, we dance, we laugh, all while improving communication skills!”
District 7 Announces Partnership With First Community Credit Union
Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 has announced a corporate partnership with First Community Credit Union that will run through July 2027.
As part of its partnership, First Community Credit Union will offer custom Edwardsville High School debit cards, available at both local branches, located in the Glen Carbon Walmart and on 157. FCCU will also have advertising on football and basketball scoreboards.
“We are excited to partner with First Community Credit Union,” said District 7 Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton. “First Community has a history of being involved in its local communities and we are grateful for their support of our students.”
“First Community was originally founded nearly 90 years ago as the Monsanto Credit Union. Today some of the grandkids of those former Monsanto employees attend Edwardsville High School. This partnership with the district is the best way I can think of to show our support of the school and the community from generation to generation,” said Glenn D. Barks, First Community Credit Union President & CEO.
About First Community:
First Community Credit Union has been operating for nearly 90 years and serves over 375,000 members. First Community is in the top 100 credit unions in the nation. Its mission is to provide quality products and affordable financial services. It serves all persons living and working in the Illinois counties of Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair and the Missouri communities of St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, and Warren County.
Pontious Selected as one of Emerson’s 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
Edwardsville High School English teacher Nickie Pontious has been selected as one of Emerson’s 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award recipients.
She is among more than 80 teachers from across the St. Louis metropolitan area who are being recognized this year through the program as examples of truly outstanding educational excellence.
“I am truly honored to receive this recognition,” Pontious said. “There are so many teachers deserving of recognition for the work they do every single day, so I am especially grateful for this opportunity.”
The Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awards, now in its 33rd year, is one of the St. Louis region’s most recognized teacher recognition programs. Emerson proudly sponsors this program as a way of helping the St. Louis community express their collective admiration and gratitude for their dedication to teaching the area’s students.
“We are extremely proud of Nickie for being named a recipient of the Emerson’s Excellence in Teaching Award,” said EHS principal Dr. Steve Stuart. “She has dedicated her time to her students through the outstanding work she does in the classroom and her extracurricular activities, and in supporting her peers through her leadership role on our PLC (professional learning communities) Team.”
Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton echoes Stuart’s sentiments.
“Nickie exemplifies what it means to be an excellent educator and is truly deserving of this honor. Her inspiring enthusiasm and positivity for her students is unmatched and we are extremely grateful to have Nickie in District 7.”
Pontious has spent all 12 years of her teaching career at EHS.
“Teaching is a career that is ever-changing, hustling and bustling, switching gears every moment in every school day to accommodate the needs of individual students as a collective group, but it is one of the most rewarding accomplishments of my life,” said Pontious. “My students drive my passion for teaching. I am thankful to get to know each and every one of them and be their personal cheerleader as they grow and evolve into lifelong learners.”
In addition to her teaching position, Pontious is the sponsor of the Interact Club, the Tiger Podcast and routinely facilitates professional development for other teachers. She was one of three teachers selected to lead the guiding coalition to implement PLCs for District #7.
In recognition of her honor, Pontious received an engraved crystal apple from Tiffany & Co., along with other additional tokens of appreciation from Emerson. She was also recognized at the November 28, 2022, District #7 Board of Education meeting.
Special Informational Meeting at Midway Moved to Nov. 30
Due to unforseen circumstances, the special informational meeting scheduled for Monday, November 21 at Midway has been postponed. That meeting will now take place on Wednesday, November 30 at 6 p.m. We apologize for any inconvenience, but look forward to sharing additional information directly related to Midway and its critical building infrastructure needs on November 30.
Friday Feature: Wendy Sanders, FLS Program Assistant
Wendy Sanders has always had a passion and gift for working with children.
“I have always enjoyed working with kids and caring for others.”
As an FLS program assistant, she gets to do that daily.
After relocating back to the area from the east coast where her husband’s job moved them, she needed to go back to work. After high school, she worked at Memorial Hospital in Belleville in various roles, including unit secretary, and also helped with the children’s Sunday school at her church.
“I knew I wanted to work with children and my sister, who also works for D7, suggested that I apply as a playground monitor. I was hired and began at Woodland Elementary in 2013.”
Sanders did that for a year and then was a substitute assistant in Mr. Fark’s FLS classroom. When the opportunity to join as a FLS program assistant opened, she took it and has been working in his classroom ever since.
“He’s the best teacher to work with! I absolutely love working with Mr. Fark and the children. It brings me such joy to be able to help shape their lives.”
After years at Woodland Elementary, Sanders followed Fark to Cassens this year.
“I continue to work for the district because my heart is with all the children and the great staff members, both at Woodland and Cassens, that have mentored me and became my friends. There are so many rewarding things about my job and working for D7, but the most rewarding is seeing the children learn and excel in their life.”
District #7 School Calendar Survey
District #7 is seeking input into the development of the 2023-24 school calendar, as well as the structure of future calendars.
Input and feedback received from this school calendar survey will be shared with the District Leadership Team, Calendar Committee, and the Board of Education, and will be used to develop drafts of the 2023-24 school calendar. The Board of Education approves the school calendar each year, typically no later than the January regular board meeting.
When completing this survey, please remember that each school year must contain 174 instructional days, two (2) days for parent teacher conferences, and four (4) teacher institute days. In addition, there are holidays which must be taken as required by Illinois School Code.
You can access the survey here: https://forms.office.com/r/yiJVWME1aC. It will remain open through Tuesday, November 22, 2022.
2022-23 Winter Weather Plan
November 13, 2022
Dear District #7 families,
As we saw this weekend, winter is fast approaching, and along with it comes the potential for weather and travel concerns. If inclement weather prompts District #7 to cancel school, alter bus schedules, or hold an e-Learning day, we will notify parents and staff as soon as possible using a variety of communication tools. Please note, extreme weather can be unpredictable, but the decision to cancel school or call for an e-Learning day will be made by 5 a.m., if possible, on days when inclement weather occurs or is pending. District #7 will only send a message if school is cancelled, bus routes are altered, or an e-Learning day is issued. Otherwise, the day will proceed as usual. Kid Zone will also be closed if there is an inclement weather day. More information will be sent to enrolled families of their plan if weather is a factor.
While District #7 can use up to five e-Learning days in lieu of snow days when weather conditions make it dangerous to get students to school, we will not have an e-Learning day until our K-2 students have devices, which is scheduled to occur in January. Please remember that we will not be taking away all snow days, we will just have the flexibility to utilize e-learning and emergency days, depending on the winter conditions.
When the decision is made to cancel school or hold an e-Learning day due to inclement weather, the District will send an email, a text message, and a recorded message via phone to all families via our message broadcast system, SchoolMessenger.
The system will utilize contact information that the District currently has on file in SchoolMessenger, which interfaces with the District’s student information system. Contact information was provided at registration by parents/guardians. Revised or updated contact information should be provided to your child’s school. All information and contact numbers are secure and confidential and are used only for the purposes described above. If you have not opted-in for text messages and would like to do, please see the Text Opt-in attachment.
If you have any questions about this system or any part of the SchoolMessenger notification process, please contact Bill Miener, Director of Information Systems & Service, at 655-6018, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
District #7 will post school closure information at www.ecusd7.org and on our social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The District also notifies local television stations (KMOV-TV CHANNEL 4 NEWS; KSDK-TV CHANNEL 5 NEWS; FOX 2 NEWS) as well as radio station KMOX (AM-1120).
With Tiger Pride,
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
No School November 8 and November 11
Reminder that there is no school, and all buildings and offices will be closed, on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 for Election Day and on Friday, November 11, 2022 in honor of Veterans Day.
The 2022-23 school calendar can be viewed here.
Friday Feature: Shanyra Cox, Elementary Technology Coach
Shanyra Cox loves technology, teaching, and learning. In her position as an elementary technology coach, she gets to do all three.
“The best part of being a technology coach is collaborating with my peers as they create digital lessons that will have a meaningful impact on their students. There is no greater joy than helping others, students or colleagues, strive to be the best version of themselves as they navigate something new.”
Cox may be in her first year as the elementary technology coach, but she is no stranger to District #7, having spent all 22 years here. She began her career as a second-grade teacher at Glen Carbon Elementary School and since then has taught everything from second grade, fifth grade, elementary Spanish, and elementary instructional technology.
“I love teaching and coaching because every day we make differences in people’s lives, which extend far beyond knowledge. We inspire, support, mentor and get the opportunity to discover and share some of the best parts of ourselves as human beings. Teaching and coaching exposes me to a world of different cultures and the greatest diversity of personalities.”
Cox originally wanted to join the Peace Corps after high school, however her dad, who believed in the importance of education, convinced her to go to college first.
“He told me ‘No matter what you decide to do in life, I want you to get that teaching certificate first’.”
She initially fell in love with the Spanish language and in the fall of 1998, knew she wanted to become a teacher.
“I met a Spanish speaking family that lived in my off-campus apartment complex. I helped translate homework for the children after school. It was so satisfying to see the little lightbulb go off in their heads as they began to understand their schoolwork from earlier in the day.”
Little did she know Cox would still be just as passionate about teaching.
“Kids are fun. I love what I do! I know it sounds cliché, but I truly do. As teachers we get to demonstrate the importance of good character and work ethic. For some we are the only adult to set boundaries or be a warm and caring presence in a child’s life. It is a truly awesome responsibility and if I had it to do over, I would still be a teacher.”
District #7 Open Interviews Set for November 7
District #7 will hold open interviews for several positions on Monday, November 7 from 2-4:30 p.m. at the Hadley House. No appointment is needed.
ECF 2022-23 Scholarship Season Begins
Applications for scholarships at the Edwardsville Community Foundation are now available at the guidance office of Edwardsville High School. Applications are due January 31, 2023.
Last year, the Edwardsville Community Foundation granted $116,600 in scholarships to assist 60 local students pursuing degrees at colleges, universities, community colleges and vocational and technical schools.
To learn more about the criteria for each of these awards and who is eligible to apply, please visit Scholarships page.
About Edwardsville Community Foundation: Established in 1997, ECF was founded to create an organization where people could donate money that would directly impact the quality of life in the local communities. ECF operates as a charitable trust that receives, manages, and distributes tax-deductible charitable contributions for the benefit of the residents in District 7 communities. For more information call 855-464-3223 or visit www.edwardsvillecommunityfoundation.org
No School October 31 and November 1
A reminder that there is no school for students on Monday, October 31, 2022 and Tuesday, November 1, 2022 due to parent teacher conferences.
Friday Feature: MaryBeth Brown, Kid Zone Director
MaryBeth Brown discovered her immense passion for before and after school childcare when she first began working in the field in 1999.
“I was lucky to find my professional mention, Rodger Schmidt, whom I worked for in the early years of my career at the YMCA Kids Network program. Through his leadership and dedication, I learned the importance and necessity of out-of-school care and play in a child’s life.”
A lifelong resident of Edwardsville who has three of her own children in District #7 schools, Brown has been with Kid Zone since 2012, working as a program coordinator and assistant director before taking on the role of director in 2017.
As Kid Zone Director, she oversees the planning and operations of the eight Kid Zone elementary school sites. Along with her wonderful and dedicated team of counselors, site coordinators, program coordinator and assistant directors, they have made the program what it is today.
“I enjoy working for a school district that knows the benefit of offering a program that focuses on play and social interactions for children while also serving the childcare needs of families.”
Brown also enjoys seeing the children grown through their elementary-aged years at Kid Zone.
“It is also wonderful to see former Kid Zone kids return to work with us as counselors. I am fortunate to not only see the kiddos grow into themselves through the years, but also witness our counselors’ growth as they move into their professional careers.”
Brown takes much pride in the District #7 community and is passionate about her role.
“Working for the Edwardsville School District feels like home to me; I could never imagine not being a Tiger! I am dedicated and passionate about helping families’ childcare needs in the community I love.”
Brown has undergrad degrees in psychology and social work and recently completed a master’s degree in family and human development with a specialization in child development. Her initial interest was in the study of biology, which eventually led her to the social science field.
“I enjoy learning, researching, and the statistical analyses of human behaviors and relationships. Currently, I am working with a team of researchers on the critical role of play in child development. I enjoy bringing this knowledge to the Kid Zone program to help it evolve and develop to best serve the kids and our community.”
EHS Welcomes Back GAPP Exchange
For the first time since the 2019-20 school year, Edwardsville High School has welcomed its German American Partnership Program (GAPP) Exchange partners back.
14 students and two teachers from Herman Hesse Gymnasium in Calw, Germany (in the Black Forest) will be visiting EHS through November 4. German exchange students stay with EHS students during their visit to the United States, while EHS students will stay with the same partner when they visit Germany in June of 2023.
While here, German students will participate in several events in the area, including visits to St. Louis, Mo., and Springfield, Ill., while also experiencing American life with their host families. This past Saturday, they had an opportunity to explore St. Louis and visited the St. Louis Zoo, City Museum, and the Gateway Arch.
On Monday, German students toured the EHS main campus, the sports complex, and the RP Lumber Center. They had the unique opportunity to enjoy part of a performance from visiting musicians in the orchestra room during their tour. Other highlights of the tour included a walk above the auditorium and a chance to walk on the field at Tiger Stadium.
The exchange partnership between Hermann Hesse Gymnasium and Edwardsville High School began with the inaugural exchange in the 2017-2018 school year. Ideally, every other school year the exchange would take place with German students visiting during the fall or early spring and EHS students traveling to Germany in June. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, the exchange had to be put on pause.
“We are incredibly grateful and privileged for the partnership between our schools and the educational opportunities it provides our students and look forward to continuing this relationship in the years to come,” said Levi Antrim, EHS German Teacher and GAPP Coordinator.
Friday Feature: Leslie Ellis, Cassens Social Worker
As a school social worker, Leslie Ellis gets to support students and partner with their families and teachers, as well as serve on teams to help impact change at a building or even district level.
“I love working collaboratively with my colleagues to help students make progress and meet their goals. I am constantly learning, and constantly humbled by realizing how much I don’t know, but most days I get to feel like I helped someone—even if I only accomplished a tiny fraction of my to-do list.”
Ellis is in her seventh year as the school social worker at Albert Cassens Elementary. She spent her first four years in the District at Glen Carbon Elementary and spent the fourth quarter serving Liberty Middle School last year as well.
Ellis is no stranger to District #7. She grew up in Edwardsville – attending Nelson, Glen Carbon, Edwardsville Junior High and EHS – but did not come back to live here until 15 years after graduating from high school. Ironically, as she was at Hadley House to drop off an application for substitute teacher, she was told they had just posted a social worker position. The rest, as they say, is history.
“When my preschool teacher was serving as a substitute secretary on my first day and greeted me with a hug, it felt serendipitous. I have since met (or been reunited with, in some cases!) some of my favorite people in the world, and D7 feels like home once again.”
Ellis went to college as an undeclared major and had no real idea what she wanted to do career-wise.
“The School of Social Work sent out information to all undeclared majors about the field and the different things you can do with a social work degree. I was intrigued and decided to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work.”
Once in the program, she observed a social worker in a school setting and realized that was the job she wanted.
“I liked the idea of supporting students’ social and emotional well-being to help them become successful in their education and relationships.”
Ellis enjoys working with students at the intermediate level of third through fifth grade as it allows her to see the kids starting to become who they are going to be.
“There is still a lot of sweetness in these grades, but they are getting their personalities, becoming deeper thinkers, and developing their senses of humor, which is my favorite part—these kids are so funny and clever. They may do less learning as a whole class, and instead work independently or in small groups, using their social skills, perseverance, and regulation skills. This can lead to challenges and struggles along the way, but it is amazing to watch them grow.”
Parent Teacher Conferences Pick A Time
District 7 will again use Pick-A-Time to schedule PreK-12 parent-teacher conferences to be held on October 31, 2022, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and November 1, 2022, from 1:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Pick-A-Time allows parents to schedule conferences through the internet using the account from last year or by creating a new account. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. on October 21, 2022, and will end at 10:00 p.m. on October 30, 2022.
We will continue to hold parent-teacher conferences virtually in District 7. Participation in conferences across levels increased with the inception of virtual conferences. Virtual conferences offer parents the opportunity to engage without the need to drive to the building, take off work if applicable, or find childcare. In addition, our teachers are more likely to remain on time and may attend their own children’s conferences without significantly limiting their availability to parents. Ultimately, it is our goal to ensure that our parent/teacher conferences are productive in opening lines of communication and fostering the home/school partnership. In the event you need to schedule an in-person conference, or you do not have internet access, please contact your child’s building or teachers directly to make an appointment.
Scheduling Conferences using Pick-a-Time
- Navigate to www.pickatime.com/ecusd7 and login
- Returning users – enter email address and password
- New users click “Login/Create Account”
- Fill in required information
- Enter your child’s first and last name (together with no space)
- Enter your child’s birthdate (mm/dd/yyyy) and click “add”
- Select a date to schedule the conference
- Add additional children if necessary
- Click on the colored box of your preferred time slot. Each color represents a different teacher/course.
- Click “Create Appointment”
- A confirmation email will be sent with the date, time, teacher, and Teams link.
- A reminder email will also be sent 24 hours prior to the date of the conference.
- Elementary students with two teachers will schedule their parent teacher conferences with both teachers at the same time.
- Elementary conferences are scheduled in 15-minute blocks.
Middle School Students
- Middle school conferences are based on a student’s 2nd quarter class.
- 6th grade conferences are scheduled in 15-minute blocks with all five core teachers (Content Literacy, Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts)
- 7th and 8th grade conferences are scheduled in 10-minute blocks.
High School Students
- High school conferences are based on the student’s 2nd quarter classes.
- High school conferences are scheduled in 10-minute blocks.
Once you have registered for a virtual conference, the teacher’s Teams link will be listed with your email confirmation. This will give you access to the Teams waiting room until your scheduled appointment time.
Please feel free to contact your building secretary or principal if you have any questions.
Friday Feature: Toni Peitzmeyer, Leclaire Secretary
by Mary Ann Mitchell, Public Relations & Communications Coordinator
For 24 years Toni Peitzmeyer has been a smiling and familiar face as the school secretary at Leclaire Elementary.
She originally started as a playground monitor in August of 1998 when her youngest son was in first grade.
“I wanted to know the people that were a big part of his day.”
Since then, Leclaire has been home to her work family.
“There have been, and still are, wonderful, caring, and creative people within these walls. I’ve witnessed the staff help students go from not being able to walk in a line to making announcements to the whole school.”
Peitzmeyer added that a K-2 building is THE place to watch children grow.
“They are so young and need extra attention and to work in one of these buildings you must accept that your day may not go as planned.”
And contrary to what some may think, a school secretary is more than someone who just answers the phone and types.
“A school secretary must be able to multitask. We must be able to answer or find answers for parents/teachers/principal’s questions, fill staff vacancies, make sure the supply closet is filled, proofread, stop a bloody nose, know when to interrupt the meeting your principal is in…and must always try to be patient, respectful and smiling!”
She said all the above is possible when working with good people that put children first.
After 24 years, Peitzmeyer’s time at Leclaire will end after this school year when she will retire.
She is looking forward to spending her days hiking, biking, and spending time with family.
“I love to travel and will visit and possibly volunteer at National parks and hope to visit Europe as well.”
While Peitzmeyer is looking forward to what lies ahead with retirement, she is also beginning to realize how much she will miss her Leclaire and D7 family.
“They are a huge part of my life. We know each other’s spouses, children, grandchildren, pets. We’ve celebrated and mourned together. I’ve been so blessed to have them in my life!”
District Facility Analysis Report Detailed at Board of Education Meeting
Watch the video version of this communication here.
October 11, 2022
Dear District #7 community,
As part of the District’s new strategic plan, we have been working closely with Ittner Architects to conduct a comprehensive analysis of our buildings and have also brought on consultants from Creative Entourage to conduct community engagement sessions called Engage District #7. The goal of these sessions is to provide an opportunity for meaningful conversations and to gather input from a broad base of the community in order to develop long-range goals and priorities that:
- Improve the learning experiences and learning environments for students in a fiscally responsible manner;
- Determine how best to address long-term facility and enrollment changes; and
- Identify what steps should be taken now and in the future.
Earlier this evening at the Board of Education meeting, Ittner provided an overview of their analysis of District #7 schools and provided recommendations regarding the needs identified. District #7 schools range in age from 140 years to 14 years, which also is indicative of the needs identified.
As part of their analysis, Ittner has recommended that District #7 take the following steps:
- Identify a location and develop a plan for the replacement of Lincoln Middle School. This historic building has several needs which cannot be addressed while occupied by students.
- Expand the Commons at Edwardsville High School to provide seating for additional students.
- Determine how to address significant foundation issues at Midway Elementary School. This could include consolidating Midway Elementary and Hamel Elementary into a new elementary school on the Hamel campus.
- Identify areas of inequity among our schools and develop a plan to address those inequities over the next several years.
- Develop a plan to improve safety and security as it relates to all District #7 schools. This includes a plan for double entry into each of our schools and addressing any site concerns related to student safety, which may include playgrounds.
Our first round of community engagement sessions begins tomorrow and will continue next week at each of our intermediate schools. We look forward to District #7 stakeholders engaging in dialogue regarding the future of our facilities. We have amazing staff and students, and our desire is to provide them with the best facilities possible as we look to the future of District #7, while preserving our past. You can get the dates for each session in your mailbox and at the dedicated site EngageDistrict7.org. I look forward to seeing you there.
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
To watch the Ittner facility presentation from the Board of Education meeting, go to the 47:30 minute mark of this broadcasted meeting: https://www.facebook.com/ECUSD7/videos/776652267105338/
Calendar Reminder: No School Oct. 7 or Oct. 10
A reminder that there is no student attendance on Friday, Oct. 7 as that is a Teacher Institute Day.
All schools and offices will be closed on Monday, Oct. 10 in observance of Columbus Day.
Community Invited to Help Plan for the Future of District #7
Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 is launching an effort to bring the entire D7 community together to develop goals and priorities to improve its schools. ENGAGE District 7, created as part of the implementation of District 7’s strategic plan, is a team of district employees and stakeholders. Engage District 7 is hosting a series of community engagement meetings for your input on how to meet the facility needs for all District 7 students now and in the future. The program is designed to ensure the district’s work in the future is guided by a facility improvement plan developed “For Our Community By Our Community.”
Parents, staff and community members are encouraged to participate in ENGAGE District 7. As part of the program, a two-part series of community engagement sessions will kick off on Wednesday, Oct. 12. During these sessions, participants will learn more about planning priorities for D7 facilities and will engage with other stakeholders on what is most important now and what projects can wait until later. Each session will feature an interactive work activity with fellow participants to help identify the priorities to move our schools forward. The results of the community engagement sessions will be included in a series of recommendations that will be presented to the D7 Board of Education.
Each of the two sessions will have four meeting date options to choose from.
Session 1 will focus on facility needs in District #7
October 12 – 6-8 p.m.
Worden Elementary, 110 Main St., Worden
(meeting: gym | parking and entrance: located off Kell Street)
October 18 – 6-8 p.m.
Columbus Elementary, 315 N. Kansas St., Edwardsville
(meeting: cafeteria | parking and entrance: located off College Street)
October 19 – 6-8 p.m.
Woodland Elementary, 59 IL-157, Edwardsville
(meeting: cafeteria | parking and entrance: main entrance)
October 20 – 6-8 p.m.
Cassens Elementary, 1014 Glen Crossing Rd., Glen Carbon
(meeting: cafeteria | parking and entrance: main entrance)
Session 2 will focus on facility priorities in District #7
November 9 – 6-8 p.m.
Worden Elementary, 110 Main St., Worden
(meeting: gym | parking and entrance: located off Kell Street)
November 15 – 6-8 p.m.
Columbus Elementary, 315 N. Kansas St., Edwardsville
(meeting: cafeteria | parking and entrance: located off College Street)
November 16 – 6-8 p.m.
Woodland Elementary, 59 IL-157, Edwardsville
(meeting: cafeteria | parking and entrance: main entrance)
November 17 – 6-8 p.m.
Cassens Elementary, 1014 Glen Crossing Rd., Glen Carbon
(meeting: cafeteria | parking and entrance: main entrance)
Visit EngageDistrict7.org for more information and to register to participate.
EHS Trio Honored in National Merit Scholarship Program
Edwardsville High School senior Jonathan Stump has been named a 2023 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, while fellow seniors Grace Ramsey and Selin Aktuna were named National Merit Scholarship Commended Students.
Stump is one of 16,000 students across the country who qualified as a semifinalist based on his PSAT/NMSQT scores in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. He will continue in the competition for some 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalist must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 95 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain a finalist standing, and approximately half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship and earn the Merit Scholar title.
“This means a lot in terms of achieving something outside of the normal academic classroom that gives you recognition for the hard work you’ve put in,” said Stump. “It also means a lot to share this achievement with these peers around me. We’ve been in the same classes and working together for a long time.”
Although Ramsey and Aktuna will not continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, they are two of about 34,000 students throughout the nation who are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise.
“It’s a cumulation of hard work and it didn’t just come without any effort,” said Aktuna. “It’s proof that we’ve all worked hard and did the work to achieve this.”
“To share this special achievement for something we did outside of the classroom and the school is really special,” added Ramsey.
The trio also commended their teachers for helping them to earn this honor.
“The enthusiasm our teachers bring is very helpful,” said Stump. “When they are excited about something, we get excited about it and it’s not just homework we are doing, it’s something we are doing so we can have a discussion about it in class.”
“Our teachers are very passionate about what they do, and they make it a very positive learning environment,” said Aktuna.
“Every teacher has a true passion for what they do,” added Ramsey. They love to teach and love what they teach. That makes us more invigorated and interested in the class.”
All three are still finalizing their future plans, but Stumpf would like to do something in cyber security, while Aktuna would like to be an aerospace engineer. Ramsey enjoys biology and history and plans to pursue a career path in those areas.
EHS Art Students Showcase Work at Edwardsville Art Fair
The Edwardsville Art Center once again graciously allowed students to have their own booth at last weekend’s Edwardsville Art Fair. Over 12 students represented EHS at the booth, while several other students volunteered for the EAC to run other aspects of the event.
Teacher Tuesday: Amy Crony, Glen Carbon 1st Grade
Amy Crony is in her 16th year of education, which has included 10 years in District 7. She has spent the last five years teaching first and second grade and is currently a first-grade teacher at Glen Carbon Elementary.
Education wasn’t her first career, but many of her family members were teachers and she enjoyed hearing how rewarding it was.
“I wanted the same experience. I had worked in several positions in another career before education, and teaching is the most rewarding experience for me because I get to help students succeed in their education.”
It’s the children that she enjoys the most.
“I enjoy watching children interact with one another and grow in their learning. I am very excited when my first graders master beginning reading and math skills.”
Crony said her fellow educators are what help keep her in education.
“I work with a great group of teachers at Glen Carbon Elementary, and I am always eager to learn new skills to help my students.”
When she’s not in the classroom, Crony enjoys spending time with family, cooking, exercising, and reading.
Caroline Marcus Sworn In as Board of Education Student Rep
Edwardsville High School senior Caroline Marcus was sworn in Monday as the student representative to the Board of Education for the 2022-23 school year.
Glen Carbon mayor Bob Marcus administered the oath of office for his daughter.
Marcus will represent all District #7 students to the Board of Education, serving as a liaison between students and the school board. She will provide a student voice on policy and procedures as well as a voice on student issues, questions and successes.
As part of her role on the Board of Education, Marcus will provide a monthly student report, participate in Board discussions, and attend all Board of Education meetings and work sessions.
Marcus is currently involved in various school organizations, including president of Student Council, president of Spanish Honor Society, National Honor Society, National Honor Society English, CEO program, and EHS girls’ lacrosse.
Pictured from left to right: District #7 Superintendent Patrick Shelton, Caroline Marcus, Glen Carbon Mayor Bob Marcus, and District #7 Board of Education President John McDole.
Friday Feature: Scot Ambuel, Nelson SSO
by Mary Ann Mitchell, Public Relations and Communications Coordinator
Scot Ambuel, Nelson Elementary SSO
Scot Ambuel may have retired from District #7 in 2014 after 35 years as a speech pathologist, but he remains a familiar face in the district.
Ambuel is in his sixth year as the SSO at Nelson Elementary. After his retirement, he subbed for three years as a special education assistant before taking on the SSO role.
“I’ve been around a long time. As an example, Mrs. Edwards (Nelson principal) was a student at Leclaire when I was teaching there!”
Ambuel said he is not one to sit around and watch TV or read a book. He enjoys being active with things such as vegetable and flower gardening, hiking, animal watching, and tennis, but those activities are limited in the winter.
“Being an SSO gives me the opportunity to stay active, both physically and mentally. I have a theory that when one retires, you either stay active or live and sit around and die. I’m not ready to die!”
His favorite part of being an SSO is getting to be an ambassador for his school and the school district.
“For most parents, I am the first district employee they encounter face-to-face. That gives me the opportunity to welcome them and to set their impressions of the school where their child will be educated, as well as that of ECUSD7.”
Not only did Ambuel spend his entire teaching career in District #7, but he was also born and educated here, making District #7 extra special to him.
“I enjoy the camaraderie of the teachers, talking with parents, and I enjoy helping/teaching children, whether it is tying their shoes, or teaching them things like the life cycle of the endangered Monarch Butterfly.”
While he was hired to maintain the safety and security of the children and staff at Nelson, it is much more than just sitting and watching the front door.
“It involves screening those individuals coming to that door and maintaining the security of the playground and the school’s perimeter. I am also part of a team that makes sure the children get home safely at the end of the day.”
When he thinks back on his own teaching career and how things have changed and that there’s a need for SSOs now when there was a time that there necessarily wasn’t, he is also grateful for what the position provides.
“Next year I will have four grandsons in four different buildings. It is comforting for me to know that there are SSOs in those buildings keeping them safe during their educational day.” #d7proud
Friday Feature: Dr. Beth Renth
by Mary Ann Mitchell, Public Relations & Communications Coordinator
Before she retires at the end of this calendar year, Dr. Beth Renth is sharing the knowledge she gained during her 22-year career as principal of Worden Elementary with others, by wrapping up her time in District #7 as a principal trainer and mentor for the new elementary principals in the district. She stepped down as principal at Worden in May.
“I do a lot of visiting the schools and walk through with them the different components that are important for principals, whether it be district procedures or even things like emergency plans – things they may not have had experience within District 7 yet.”
With many new elementary principals in the district, her insight and years of experience has been valuable.
“They have really welcomed me with open arms, and we’ll talk through things. But they also do things differently. They are their own person and their own leader, but I am there to help them figure out what is best, especially for the kids.”
Dr. Renth began her career in District #7 in 1995 as a teacher, spending two years at the old Edwardsville Middle School. She left for a year to take a job as a principal in another district, but quickly returned to Edwardsville Middle School as the assistant principal for two years before accepting the role as Worden principal.
Ironically, Dr. Renth did not have plans to become a principal, but one of the previous districts she had worked for asked her to come in as principal and it’s a role she never left.
“I knew I was a good teacher; I just didn’t know if I was going to be a good principal. So that was scary at the time, but now I don’t know where the time has gone. Suddenly, I’m looking down on retirement. But it’s been great. I was able to impact more than just those 20 students in my classroom and impact a larger group of students.”
Those students have also been what’s she has enjoyed the most.
“I’ve told people over the years that, depending on Worden’s enrollment, I have 285 children. Three of them belong to me and the other 282 I borrow, but they are still mine. Secondly, there are just a lot of great people in this district. I’ve made some great friends, who also are committed to the kids.”
Her investment in the District #7 community is what has kept her here for nearly three decades. Two of her own children have graduated from Edwardsville High School, while one is still at EHS. Her husband was also an Edwardsville police officer.
“This has just always been home. And I’ve also felt, and still feel, like Worden is a family.”
Dr. Renth is looking forward to more family time in retirement, especially spending more time with her own children.
“I’d like to be able to visit them and get to know each of them as adults.”
As for what she will miss, it is the energy of being in a school building.
“Even now when I walk into a building, I feel that energy and it energizes me. I am going to have to find something to keep that energy going because it is so incredibly special.”
It might be hard to sum up a career like Dr. Renth’s, but in short, she has made an impact.
“Whether it was with the students or the teachers. It has always been important for me to be driven towards goals. I feel like I have met many of those and contributed to make a difference for someone, either a student, a teacher, or a staff member. And that is what is important.” #d7proud
Three Teachers Awarded Grants from IRTAF
Three Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 teachers have been named recipients of a grant from the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation (IRTAF). The IRTAF recently awarded $36,500 in grant money to public school educators (PreK through 12) statewide.
Laura Brennan and Tyler Slaby of Liberty Middle School and Shanyra Cox of Woodland Elementary School were all awarded an IRTAF grant.
Below are summarized paragraphs of the project in each of the three’s own words.
Laura Brennan, Liberty Middle School ($750)
My class would benefit from purchasing a SRA Reading Laboratory Kit. SRA supports a growth mindset within every student. Students are interested in their own learning with self-monitoring progress, which is an integral part of student success. Students are motivated through self-guided, cross-curricular reading selections that connect their reading level with their topics of interests. This instills a love of reading and learning.
Tyler Slaby, Liberty Middle School ($570)
I am currently needing math supplies for our 6th grade math students to better support them in the classroom when it comes to understanding multiplication and division. I am on the search for base ten blocks that can be used for 330 students in our middle school to support their learning of fractions, multiplication, and division.
Shanyra Cox, Woodland Elementary School ($679.78)
As part of the technology curriculum, I will introduce coding to the 3rd-5th graders. I would like to enrich the coding unit by allowing them to see their coding skills in action with a Dash and Dot coding robot with challenge and enrichment accessories. Students will not only have to understand block coding but will have to problem solve together to code their robot to perform a task. The Dash and Dot robot will teach the kids block coding, provide them with opportunity to problem solve, use critical thinking skills, as well as spark their creativity.
The IRTA Foundation designed this program based on the idea that educators often do not have additional revenue sources available for unique student projects or classroom materials.
Applicants were required to meet the proper criteria and to submit their proposals by early June. The IRTAF Board of Directors selected the grant recipients and awards are being presented now. The Illinois Principals Association played a vital role in assisting IRTAF with the promotion of this program.
#FridayFeature: Nancy Stahlhut, Columbus Elementary Head Custodian
Columbus Elementary head custodian Nancy Stahlhut is a staple in the district.
Stahlhut has been with District #7 for more than 30 years, not including her school years.
“I love it. All my life, beginning with kindergarten through 12th grade, I have been with the district.”
Stahlhut began working for the district because of the convenience in having the same schedule as her two school-aged children.
She started at the junior high snack bar and then became the head cook at Columbus for three years. After a year, a year as the food service delivery driver, Stahlhut again returned to Columbus as the head custodian in 1996, becoming the first female to hold that title in the district.
“When I was the head cook, I had the summers off, so I had to find other employment and at times I was working four jobs. This was one job that I could do where I did not need three other jobs. I was able to work full-time and raise my children without having to rush to another job and had weekends off.”
Stahlhut said her favorite part of working for the district is the students.
“Year after year it is their smiling faces. I love being able to interact with them and see them grow.”
She also enjoys interacting with the teachers as well and makes popcorn for them daily.
“In the beginning, I was told by previous custodians to never go in the teachers’ lounge. That they will bombard you with things to do. Well, I made it a point to go into the teacher’s lounge. You become a friend and they are used to seeing you. Being able to have that rapport with students and teachers alike is important.”
Dr. Duncan Named IPA Southwestern Region Middle School Principal of the Year
Liberty Middle School principal Dr. Allen Duncan has been nominated for and selected as the Illinois Principals Association Southwestern Region Middle School Principal of the Year.
“To be named the Illinois Principals Association Southwestern Region Principal of the Year is an amazing recognition,” said Duncan. “It’s always nice to be appreciated for working hard and giving it your all. But this recognition isn’t just about me. It’s about our Liberty family. This award recognizes the efforts of my staff, students, and all the families that have supported our school over the last couple of years. We truly have something special at Liberty, and I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to work here every day.”
Dr. Duncan was nominated by Dr. Tron Young, principal at Joseph Arthur Middle School in O’Fallon, Ill.
In his nomination, Dr. Young said, “Dr. Duncan, your commitment to giving your very best each and every day to the students and staff who attend Liberty Middle School is worthy of recognition. You have created an environment that allows students to connect and thrive as part of a house system that brings community and engagement to life. He has developed a school culture that inspires his staff to build meaningful connections to student learning, demonstrating increased student achievement. In addition to the work in his building, he was part of the inaugural steering committee for the I-Grow Summit, which looks to grow, retain, and recruit educational teachers and leaders of color.”
Dr. Young presented Dr. Duncan with news of his selection on Thursday morning in the Liberty gymnasium surrounded by his students, teachers and staff.
Dr. Duncan is in his third year as principal at Liberty Middle School and his 18th year overall in District #7.
Harkey Sisters Earn Bronze Medals in Ireland
Not many students can say they spent their summer in Ireland winning a bronze medal. But that’s what Lincoln eighth grader Gwen Harkey and her sister Eliana (Ellie), a fourth grader at Columbus, did.
Each won a bronze medal in the World Championship competition for Irish Music in Mullingar, Ireland, in Irish Lilting in August.
“It’s amazing and unbelievable,” said Gwen. “The medal means so much, but the competition and being there means just as much. The medal is the reward for the hard work.”
“It is very special and something I am proud of, especially since I wasn’t sure how I would do,” said Ellie.
The two got their start with Irish music just four years ago in 2018 with the St. Louis Irish Arts, and because of the pandemic, had not done many competitions and had many lessons virtually.
Yet, they competed in the Midwest Regional Fleadh in the spring, where they both qualified for the All-Ireland (World Championship) Fleadh. There are seven regional events around the world that qualify students to attend the World Championships. Two of those are in the United States, but in Ireland, they have qualifying events that students have to go through in order to even get to Regionals, making the Harkey sisters’ medals even more impressive.
Both Gwen and Ellie said placing third alongside each other made it even more special and that the competition and the trip is an experience neither will forget.
“It was incredible to compete on a world stage and to be there with so many people who do the art I do,” said Gwen.
“I liked the feeling of when I finished because it was like, oh, wow, I just competed in Ireland, and not many people get to do that,” added Ellie. #d7proud
Unified Sports at District #7
NAACP Awards District #7 Library Books Grant
During Monday’s monthly Board of Education meeting, the Edwardsville NAACP awarded each District #7 elementary and middle school a grant for purchasing books for their media centers that illustrate and educate the beauty of diversity. The year’s grant totals $3,000.
“The history of the NAACP embodies the spirit of collaboration and partnership, while encouraging the celebration of diversity and unity,” said Edwardsville NAACP President Walt Williams. “It is with that same spirit that we work with District #7.”
Williams, along with NAACP former president John Cunningham and NAACP branch member Debra Pitts presented the check to District #7 Superintendent Patrick Shelton and Board President John McDole.
“Representation matters. It is important for all our students to not only see themselves in our staff, but in the library when they pick up a book,” said Cornelia Smith, Director of DEI/Elementary Education. “Our partnership with the Edwardsville NAACP has afforded that opportunity and we grateful for that.”
Early Release Wednesdays Begin August 24
On Wednesdays during the 2022-23 school year (beginning on August 24), all District 7 schools will be dismissed early to allow for consistent staff collaboration in identifying priority standards, utilizing common formative assessments, and determining instructional needs for students. This time will allow our teachers to collaborate with one another, plan intentionally and grow professionally.
EHS will dismiss at 12:45 p.m., the middle schools at 1:35 p.m., intermediate schools (grades 3-5) at 2:40 p.m. and primary schools (grades K-2) at 2:50 p.m.
Each building should have communicated with families about child care between the early dismissal time and the regular dismissal time.
Monday, Aug. 15 Office/Building Hours
Due to the District kickoff event for all staff on Monday morning (August 15), district offices will not open until 10 a.m. Additionally, school buildings will be closed until 1 p.m. for their meetings.
District 7 to Initiate PLCs for Staff in 2022-23
2022-23 School Year Info
Watch the video version here
August 10, 2022
Dear District #7 families,
Earlier this week, I provided our Board of Education with a comprehensive update on the 2022-2023 school year as well as an update on the 2022-2023 Return to Learn plan, which is now updated on the District #7 website. We are excited about the upcoming school year and wanted to share a few highlights related to the school calendar, school day schedules, and our renewed focus on school safety.
Last January, the Board of Education approved the 2022-2023 calendar which included an early release schedule each Wednesday. The early release schedule was adopted in lieu of any additional half days for school improvement and will allow each certified staff member to fully engage in the PLC process beginning with the 22-23 school year. Research has shown that providing teachers with the time to work in collaborative teams has a positive impact on student learning, and we are excited to be kicking off this initiative on Wednesday, August 24.
The high school will dismiss at 12:45 p.m., followed by the middle schools at 1:35 p.m., the intermediate schools (grades 3-5) at 2:40 p.m. and primary schools (K-2) at 2:50 p.m. Schools will provide childcare coverage on Wednesdays from the early dismissal time until the normal dismissal time – at which time parents will be responsible for picking up their child. Buses will run at the early dismissal time. Each building will communicate that process along with a sign-up form for those needing childcare.
The school day for each of our buildings will also begin and end between five and 10 minutes earlier each day from last year to help aid in our bus transportation times. 2022-23 School Start Times
This year our renewed focus on school safety started with the addition of our Director of Security, Michael Hubbard, but has continued with expanding our training for our School Safety Officers, expanding the presence of our School Safety Officers in our middle and high schools, and the requirement for all students and staff to wear IDs in our schools. We want to ensure that each student and staff member feels safe teaching and learning. We will also be continuing our work with local law enforcement on our crisis plans and training for all staff regarding school safety. In addition, we will be refocusing our efforts on enforcing the District #7 Dress Code and requiring that electronic devices, including cell phones and air pods, be put away during the instructional part of the school day. Our goal is to maintain a safe environment for students and staff so that our primary focus can continue to be on educating students.
Staffing continues to be a concern, but we see improvements in our staffing forecast every day. Our certified staff positions are fully staffed with a couple of exceptions. However, we do still have many classified positions still open, although numbers continue to improve through our open interview process, recruiting at Goshen Market, and working with other agencies and institutions to recruit employees.
To add some clarification on staffing with our Kid Zone, Kid Zone is operated as an extension of District #7, but it is run like a childcare and must follow certain licensing with the state. There are only a certain number of children allowed per adult and that adult must be 18. There are also staffing criteria for students with special needs that must be followed.
KINDERGARTEN ORIENTATION/OPEN HOUSE
We are also excited to welcome almost 500 kindergarten students to District #7. We invite our kindergarten families to a special Kindergarten parent orientation on Monday, August 15 at 6:30 p.m. where principals will be providing an overview of the kindergarten screening process. Parents are also welcomed to bring community supplies such as Kleenex and wet wipes. Also, do not forget kindergarten open house on Wednesday, August 24!
Registration for the 2022-23 school year is still available! This is the first year we are fully online for registration, and once the school year begins, we will be meeting to find ways to make this process easier for our families. If you still need to register, please visit http://ecusd7.org/district-information/registration/.
I also want to remind our families that we will be charging for breakfast and lunch this year as the funding from the federal government which funded meals the past two years has ended.
Finally, we are looking forward to our Mascot Welcome on Friday for students entering 3rd, 6th, and 9th grades! We are also looking forward to open houses next week and the first day of school exactly one week from today. Enjoy the last week of summer break and we cannot wait to see you next Wednesday!
With Tiger Pride,
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
Mascot Welcome Bus Transportation Times Released
Please click here to see the list of bus pick up times for Friday’s Mascot Welcome.
Early Release Wednesdays Begin August 24
Hadley House Closing at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday
District #7 Job Openings
July 28, 2022
Dear District #7 families,
Like school districts and businesses both locally and nationally, District #7 is facing an employee shortage. To seek individuals to fill these important roles, we’ve increased our presence at job fairs and on college campuses, posted on a variety of sites including student job platforms at SIUE and Lewis & Clark CC, and are now recruiting at the Goshen Market. Last spring, we initiated referral and signing bonuses and are continuing to explore a variety of other incentives.
Our employees are our greatest asset and help make District #7 the school district it is, and we will continue to seek new ways to show our appreciation and gratitude. Moving forward, we are pleased to announce that we will be restructuring our monitor and cafeteria positions to include more hours and/or the option of a full-time position.
As the 2022-23 school year approaches, we are looking to fill several vacancies in our schools. If you or someone you know enjoys working with students and wants to make a difference in their lives, we invite you to apply online today!
District #7 currently has the following positions open:
- 24 Program/Extra-ordinary Care Assistants ($13.10 – $15.61/hour)
- 9 Monitors ($13.00 – $14.38/hour)
- 19 Food Service ($13.40 – $14.59/hour)
- 1 Secretary ($14.31 – $15.11/hour)
- 3 SSO ($17.70 – $18.87/hour)
- 9 Custodians ($14.95 – $16.80/hour)
- 2 Maintenance ($16.60 – $17.71/hour)
- 30 Kid Zone Counselors ($13.00/hour)
Additionally, our assistant positions will now offer a sign-on/retention bonus with $500 paid in December and in May, while our Kid Zone counselor positions will offer a sign-on retention bonus of $250, also paid in December and in May.
A complete listing of open positions and job descriptions can be found here: https://ecusd7.tedk12.com/hire/index.aspx.
District #7 will hold open interviews on Tuesday, August 2 from 2-5 p.m. at Edwardsville High School for all these positions. No appointments are required. Please bring an updated resume.
We are always looking for additional substitute teachers (application) and substitute classified employees (application).
Among the many benefits these positions offer include:
- Working while your kids are in school
- Enjoying the same school breaks and holidays
- Great working hours
- Full-time and part-time substitute positions fit flexible schedules and needs
If you would like more information about open positions that may be available at your child’s school, you may contact the building principal. If you have general questions, please contact the Personnel Department at 656-1182. We hope you will consider sharing these opportunities with friends and family that may be interested in working for the Edwardsville Community School District.
With Tiger Pride,
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
Back to School Info
July 26, 2022
Dear District #7 families,
Welcome to the 2022-23 school year! We are excited to welcome all our students back to school on Wednesday, August 17, 2022! Our staff has been busy preparing for another exciting year and to help our families prepare, we wanted to share some information. Please note that each school will also be sharing more specific information as well.
If you have not yet registered your child(ren) for the 2022-23 school year, please do so as soon as possible. In order to be guaranteed transportation, students need to be registered by Monday, August 1. All registration is being done online: http://ecusd7.org/district-information/registration/ If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Hadley House (618-656-1182).
School Supply Lists
All school supply lists for the 2022-23 school year have been posted to the District #7 website. These lists may be found on the respective school page or on the student registration page: http://ecusd7.org/district-information/registration/.
Open houses prior to the start of the 2022-23 school year will be as follows:
Monday, August 15
EHS (9th-12th): 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Middle School (6th-8th): 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 16
Primary Schools (1st-2nd): 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Intermediate Schools (3rd-5th): 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Kindergarten Orientation and Open House
Kindergarten Orientation will be held on Monday, August 15 at 6:30 p.m. at your child’s primary building, except for Hamel Elementary, which will be at 5 p.m. During this time, building principals will discuss the first days of school, show you our classrooms and facilities, and answer any questions you may have about the District #7 Kindergarten Experience. In addition, please mark your calendar for 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24 for our Kindergarten Open House where teachers will be excited to meet students and parents!
District #7 will hold a ‘Mascot’ Welcome for students entering grades 3, 6 and 9 on Friday, August 12. Bus transportation will be provided, and more information should be coming from each school. This will be a structured time for these students to get to know their new school and campus.
2022-23 School Meal Program
The federal program that has allowed school districts across the country to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students regardless of income expired at the end of June. At this time, the federal government has not extended the waivers for next school year to allow free meals for all students. As a result, schools across the nation will revert to free and reduced-price meals based on income eligibility guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During the 2022-23 school year, families who do not qualify for free or reduced lunch will have to pay for school meals. Students whose families are eligible for free or reduced price breakfast or lunch will be able to access meals next school year at no cost or a discounted rate.
Wednesday Early Release/New School Start Times Reminder
A reminder that on Wednesdays during the 2022-23 school year, schools will be dismissed early (High School at 12:50 p.m., Middle Schools at 1:35 p.m., Intermediate Schools at 2:40 p.m. and Primary Schools at 2:50 p.m.) to allow for consistent staff collaboration in identifying priority standards, utilizing common formative assessments, and determining instructional needs for students. This time will allow our teachers to collaborate with one another, plan intentionally and grow professionally.
Another reminder that school start times for 2022-23 have been adjusted slightly. You can see those here: School Start Times
We hope you enjoy the remainder of your summer vacation. See you next month!
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
July Monthly BOE Meeting Location Change
District #7 Email Down July 15-20
District #7 will be upgrading its email system between July 15-20, 2022, and as a result, employees will be without email during that timeframe. All District e-mail will be down during that period, beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 15. The transition is scheduled to be completed by Wednesday, July 20.
If parents or the public try to send an email to district or school staff during this timeframe, that email will NOT reach the desired recipient and senders will receive an “unable to deliver” response.
District and school staff also will NOT be able to check their email or respond to emails until the upgrade is completed.
During July 15-20, please contact the school or department directly by telephone to ensure communication reaches the proper personnel.
We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation while this process is completed.
EHS Announces Second Semester Honor Roll
Edwardsville High School has released the names of students named to the school’s Honor and High Honor Rolls.
Students earned a place on the Honor Roll by attaining a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 to 3.999, while students on the High Honor Roll attained a GPA of 4.0 or higher.
View the HONOR ROLL
View the HIGH HONOR ROLL
EHS Baseball Wins Illinois Class 4A State Championship
The EHS baseball team won the Illinois Class 4A state championship on Saturday, June 11, defeating Mundelein, 4-3.
The Tigers rallied for the win by scoring two runs in the top of the seventh inning.
It was the fourth state championships in program history.
EHS finishes the season with a 36-4 record.
EHS Softball Finishes Third at State
The EHS softball team earned a third place finish at the Illinois Class 4A state championship this weekend.
The Tigers rebounded from a 2-0 loss to St. Charles North in Friday evening’s semifinal to take the consolation game and the third-place trophy with a 4-3 win over Barrington on Saturday.
EHS ends its season with a 33-4 record.
Lincoln Middle School Teacher Faith Jordan Overcomes Challenges to Find Home in District #7
Lincoln Middle School math teacher Faith Jordan has her dream job, is living in a community she loves and will soon have a new home that she can call her own.
The path to get here, however, has been far from easy.
In 2018, Jordan’s life fell apart. She had moved to Colorado with her then husband and three daughters but ended up getting divorced, which left with her little money and bad credit.
“We were transient for a couple years. We stayed with a family for a few months until we could make it back to my parents in St. Louis and then stayed with another family.”
All while that was happening, Jordan finished her degree at UMSL to teach middle school math. She did her student teaching at Ferugson Middle School but had gotten her provincial license so she could get paid while teaching.
Her goal during this time was to return to the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon area and to work for District #7.
“We were living in Ferguson when everything happened with the riots and were not safe. My children are bi-racial, my now ex-husband is black and my father is a white police officer in a neighboring community to Ferguson.”
The family left Ferguson to stay at a friend’s house in Glen Carbon.
“I fell in love with the people and the community. So, when everything in Colorado fell apart, my number one goal was to get back there.”
After Jordan finished her degree, she was able to get a townhouse in Glen Carbon, and while she and her three daughters have made the two-bedroom place work, it’s been tough.
A conversation with a friend led to Habitat for Humanity and Jordan looked into the organization and was able to get her application submitted just in time. Out of the many applications received, Jordan’s was selected. Habitat for Humanity selects families based on need, ability to pay and willingness to partner.
Ground was broken last fall on land less than three minutes from Lincoln, while the building began in March. The house is expected to be completed around Thanksgiving.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about Habitat for Humanity is that they give free houses. They don’t. Instead, they work with you to build one and make it financially sustainable.”
There is also the sweat equity obligation, meaning Jordan must put in 200 hours working on her own house.
Jordan has also had to help Habitat for Humanity with many fundraisers, including several through area restaurants. The next scheduled fundraiser is a 5k at Airplane Park in Edwardsville on June 18. All money raised goes directly to the building of Jordan’s home.
There is still a lot of work to do before the Jordan’s move in, but they are all excited about the house that will become their own home.
“I’m looking forward to having our own space. To be able to decorate it and to be much closer to school. It’s our forever home. I never imagined I’d be able to be in a place that’s mine – even when I was married. But now I get to do that in this amazing community. We are in a good place, and this is the start of the next chapter, and it’s a beautiful chapter.”
Hubbard Named Director of Security
Edwardsville Community Unit Schools District #7 has named Chief Michael Hubbard as the Director of Security.
Hubbard’s hire was approved May 23 by the District #7 Board of Education. The position comes after District #7 restructured its school resource officer (SRO) program with the City of Edwardsville to have four SRO officers. Hubbard will help revise school crisis plans and will work on security and safety measures throughout the district.
Hubbard retired with the rank of Chief of Police in September 2017 after a 22-year career with the East St. Louis Police Department. During his career, he operated in various capacities within law enforcement from basic patrol, narcotics investigations, criminal investigations, firearms instruction, field training and leadership and command.
“I am excited to be a member of the Edwardsville Community Unit School District family and am also excited to be able to assist in the continued development of its exceptional school safety department,” said Hubbard.
Upon his retirement, Chief Hubbard served with the East St. Louis School District 189 as Supervisor of School Safety and Security from August 2017 to December 2021 where he developed a professional and cohesive security department as well as established working relationships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Throughout his career, Chief Hubbard has been committed to the philosophy and principles of community policing, inclusion, diversion and deflection and community engagement and partnerships. This philosophy was part of the department’s organizational plan and has continued to guide Chief Hubbard’s leadership efforts throughout my career.
He also has extensive knowledge in security measures ranging from physical security to technical security with a working knowledge of executive protection measures, leadership, grant and budget management.
Chief Michael Hubbard holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Law Enforcement Administration from Western Illinois University and a Law Enforcement Officer Certification from Southwestern Illinois College.
He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, Belleville O’Fallon Alumni Chapter where he previously served as Guide Right Chairman, the fraternities youth mentoring program.
Chief Hubbard currently serves as a board member on the State of Illinois Restore, Reinvest and Renew (R3) Board which is led by the Lt. Governor of the State of Illinois.
He is also the executive pastor of the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church of East St. Louis, Ill., where he assists the senior pastor in running the business and ministerial operations of the church.
Chief Hubbard has been married for 17 years to his wife, Joann Hubbard, and the couple has two children, Makayla Hubbard and Michai Hubbard. Makayla will soon be attending Veterinarian School at Tuskegee University and Michai will be attending Kentucky State University in the fall of 2022.
EHS Graduation Set for Saturday
EHS will hold its 2022 Commencement on Saturday, May 28 at 1 p.m. in the Lucco-Jackson Gym in the Edwardsville High School.
The graduation ceremony will be live streamed at https://youtu.be/H4Tu9nY7LWM.
Worden’s Langendorf Named Madison Communications Teacher of the Year
Congratulations to Worden Elementary 3rd grade teacher Beth Langendorf on being named a 2022 Teacher of the Year by Madison Communications!
The Teacher of the Year program, now in its 17th year, annually presents an award to three teachers. Teachers employed at school districts within Madison’s service areas are eligible to be nominated for this award. The contest takes place from March 1st to May 2nd and is divided into the nomination and voting phase. During the month of March Madison received a total of 140 nominations and during the month of April, they received over 12,000 votes. The three teachers who received the highest number of votes are named Teacher of the Year.
Each winner received $500 to go toward future student advancement projects, a $100 donation to the club or sport of their choice, a personalized Teacher of the Year plaque, and a classroom pizza party hosted by the Madison Marketing Team.
District #7 May Updates
Watch a video version of this communication here
Dear District #7 Families,
We are only three days away from the end of the 2021-2022 school year and I know you’re all looking forward to some time away from school. The past 10 months have taken us through the most challenging school year we may ever encounter, and despite all those challenges, today is the most exciting time to be part of District #7!
At the monthly Board of Education meeting last night, the Board unanimously approved the 2022-27 Strategic Plan that has been in development since last September. We’ve received input from hundreds of community members across District #7 and we are excited about the five goals and the potential outcomes of the strategic plan. Each goal area – Student Success, Thriving Workforce, Safe and Supportive School Climate, Family and Community Engagement and Efficient and Effective Operations – will contain action steps and strategies that, in some cases, will have an immediate positive impact on students.
For example, we already have developed more pathways for student experiences through our partnership with Lewis and Clark Community College, where students can participate in welding, fire science, and industrial technology. And as a part of the Safe and Supportive School Climate team, work is already underway to provide students and families new to our schools with a new first day experience for the 2022-2023 school year. I’m looking forward to sharing even more about our plan in the coming months, and more information will continue to be available on our website. You can view a PDF of the strategic plan here.
Last night, I also announced a slight change in the start times for each of our schools for next year. Over the past several months, I have been working with First Student, our transportation provider, to reduce the number of buses which arrive after the school day has ended, which causes students to be late arriving home. District #7 covers 185 square miles and drivers cover 1.3 million miles per year, or an average of 7,500 miles a day, and the increased traffic within the District #7 footprint continues to make transporting our students more challenging than ever before.
However, moving our start times is only a short-term solution. I’ve also asked First Student to conduct a comprehensive review this fall of the bus routes, start times, and tiers of transportation and provide us with a recommendation that is efficient but also honors the many activities, instructional day, and developmental needs of our students. I look forward to providing an update to the Board this fall.
School start times for the 2022-23 school year will be:
Finally, I would like to congratulate all the graduates who will be completing their journey in District #7 this weekend. The class of 2022 has endured all kinds of challenges and yet has provided us and continues to provide countless success stories that will provide them with memories for a lifetime. We’re proud of you and excited to watch you as you continue to represent District #7 proudly.
I hope each of you has a wonderful end to the school year, and I look forward to seeing you on August 17 for the start of the 2022-23 school year.
With Tiger Pride,
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
Rusti Blount Named Lincoln Middle School Principal
Edwardsville Community Unit Schools District #7 has named Dr. Rusti Blount as principal of Lincoln Middle School.
Blount’s hire was approved May 23 by the District #7 Board of Education. She will take the school’s helm beginning with the 2022-23 school year.
“Dr. Blount is a proven educator who has the knowledge, dedication and commitment that will be valuable in leading Lincoln Middle School,” said District #7 Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton. “We look forward to seeing our staff and students at Lincoln thrive under her leadership.”
Blount has served as a special education teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school level, while her previous leadership roles include serving as an elementary school principal and a program specialist for special education.
“I am excited to join Lincoln Middle School and look forward to working with the staff and families to empower each student to meet their success.”
As a military spouse, Blount’s career in education has taken her across the country and around the world, serving as an educator in Texas, Montana, South Korea, and Georgia.
Blount possesses a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, a Master of Education in Special Education, and a post graduate principal certification from Wayland Baptist University. She recently completed her Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Transformational Leadership from Concordia University in Texas.
Blount and her husband, Tom, of 22 years are the proud parents of four children, including son Dalton (20), who started his service in the United State Air Force in April; son Wyatt (19), a student at the University of North Georgia as part of the Boar’s Head Brigade, an Army ROTC program; son Truett, a rising sophomore; and daughter Reese, a rising eighth grader.
District #7 Honors Employees at Recognition Banquet
Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 honored several of its outstanding employees and recognized the contributions of those employees with 25 years of service as well as its retirees on Thursday night during its Employee Recognition Banquet.
The honorees included teachers, principals, custodians, cooks and paraprofessionals, along with so many others.
Rookie of the Year Finalists
Sara Radae, Glen Carbon Elementary (special education)
Riah Martin, Albert Cassens Elementary (3rd grade)
Erica Bailey, Columbus Elementary (3rd grade)
Rookie of the Year: Riah Martin, Albert Cassens Elementary (VIDEO)
Educator of the Year Finalists (classified)
Tina Issac, Albert Cassens Elementary (SSO)
Sheree Zoelzer, Columbus Elementary (instructional assistant)
Kayla Mensen, Edwardsville High School (bookkeeper)
Keith Sternberg, Glen Carbon Elementary (program assistant)
Jen Atchison, Goshen Elementary (principal’s secretary)
Kindra Beys, Hamel Elementary (secretary)
Alicia Sadaka, Leclaire Elementary (CASTLE program assistant)
Jack Sassen, Liberty Middle School (classroom assistant)
Sandra Barr, Lincoln Middle School (program assistant)
Caroline Cline, Midway Elementary (head cook)
Jeri Cullen, Nelson Elementary (head cook)
Wendy Sanders, Woodland Elementary (FLS program assistant)
John Grindstaf, Worden Elementary (SSO)
Educator of the Year: Wendy Sanders, Woodland Elementary (VIDEO)
Educator of the Year (certified)
Lauren Heigert, Albert Cassens Elementary (5th grade)
Kumar Bhooshan, Edwardsville High School (special education)
Melissa Unger, Columbus Elementary (special education)
Cindy Johnson, Glen Carbon Elementary (nurse)
Alli Hiller, Goshen Elementary (2nd grade)
Nicole Matthews, Midway Elementary (kindergarten)
Anna Kruthoff, Nelson Elementary (psychologist)
Amy Nunn, Hamel Elementary (1st grade)
Casei Benton, Leclaire Elementary (2nd grade)
Jenny Mulvihill, Woodland Elementary (social worker)
Sarah Brown, Worden Elementary (3rd grade)
Kyle Lask, Liberty Middle School (6th/8th grade math)
Kalan Gott, Lincoln Middle School (special education)
Educator of the Year: Kumar Bhooshan, Edwardsville High School (VIDEO)
- Lisa Allen, reading specialist (Leclaire Elementary School)
- April Chapman, payroll coordinator (Hadley House)
- Lora Connor, head cook (Worden Elementary)
- Jeri Cullen, head cook (Nelson Elementary)
- Tracey Fleming, program assistant (Edwardsville High School)
- Cindy Johnson, school nurse (Glen Carbon Elementary)
- Beth Lagendorf, 4th grade (Worden Elementary)
- Amy Macias, challenge teacher
- Nicole Mathews, kindergarten (Midway Elementary)
- Mary Miller, assistant principal (Edwardsville High School)
- Beth Renth, principal (Worden Elementary)
- Teresa Riddle, 1st grade (Goshen Elementary)
- Missy Sanders, health education (Edwardsville High School)
- Dot Schroeder-Kraus, kindergarten (Glen Carbon Elementary)
- Bridget Steiner, kindergarten (Nelson Elementary)
- Julie VanVoorhis, kindergarten (Nelson Elementary)
- Barbara Wellen, special education (Leclaire Elementary)
- Marvin Battle, assistant principal (EHS South)
- Heather Clausen, special education (Edwardsville High School)
- Kelly Gleason, 5th grade (Columbus Elementary)
- Heather Haskins, language arts (Edwardsville High School)
- Paul Johnes, PE (Liberty Middle School)
- Denise Martinussen, foreign language (Edwardsville High School)
- Kevin Paur, social science (Edwardsville High School)
- Karen Sardigal, monitor (Columbus Elementary)
- Vanessa Sims, special education (Worden Elementary)
- Melissa Unger, special education (Columbus Elementary School)
- Angela VanBuskirk, math (Edwardsville High School)
- Tricia Young, special education (Woodland Elementary School)
- Leslie Zuber, 3rd grade (Cassens Elementary School)
- Leslie Pirok, 4th grade (Worden Elementary)
- Keith Morgan, science (Liberty Middle School)
- Donnell Duncan, math (EHS)
- Lori Blade, PE (EHS)
- Beth Prewitt, 4th grade (Columbus Elementary)
- Susan Converse, principal (Woodland Elementary)
- Tonya Gurley, 5th grade (Worden Elementary)
- Susi Miller, Business Office (Hadley House)
- Barb Johnson, Curriculum Office (Hadley House)
- Kelly Baird, special education (Woodland Elementary)
- Robin Quade, custodian (Nelson Elementary)
- Leslie Zuber, 3rd grade (Cassens Elementary)
- Janet Wiltshire, secretary (Hamel Elementary)
- Debbie Clemings, secretary (EHS)
- Sharon Andre, math (Liberty Middle School)
Tradition Returns With 7th Graders Making 1st Graders Books
#TeacherTuesday: Kumar Bhooshan, EHS
Kumar Bhooshan | Edwardsville High School | Social Science/Special Education
Kumar Bhooshan had always considered a career as a teacher but pushed away from it for a while. In fact, he had a few other government jobs prior to going back and getting his teaching degree.
“I think I had to be sure before I became an educator. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Bhooshan is in his 11th year of teaching, all of which has been at EHS, where he is a social science, special education teacher. He teaches in the instructional and co-taught settings, and at times, is a general education teacher. Additionally, Bhooshan is the 9th/10th boys golf coach.
He said his favorite part about being a teacher is the chance to be a positive influence on many people and students.
“I get to teach content that allows for students to understand how people function on different levels and how it affects them. I get the chance each day to tell students that they matter and their success, no matter how they define it, is important to me.”
At the high school level, he also gets the opportunity to advise, facilitate and help students who are on the verge of going into the work force, or shaping their long-term plans in higher education.
“This is a process in which they can use introspection about who they are, helping to shape their opinions and building confidence necessary to take the next step in their long-term goals.”
When he’s not in the classroom, Bhooshan says he likes to “act” like a golfer and enjoys staying active and healthy and spending as much time with as many people as he possibly can – especially his family.
2022 Summer Sports Camps
Summer is right around the corner, which means many of our athletic teams and extracurricular groups have announced their summer camps.
Please see the list below of District offered camps and click on the respective link for more information.
Additionally, several other summer camps and events are being added to our Virtual Backpack daily. The Virtual Backpack assists our families in obtaining information pertaining to community resources, services and information as District #7 continues to work in a paperless format.
|CAMP||GRADE (entering 22-23 year)|
|Tiger Tennis Camp||K-2nd | 3rd-6th | 7th-12th|
|Lady Tiger Softball Camp||3rd-9th|
|Tiger Basketball Camp||3rd-9th | 8th-9th|
|Lady Tiger Basketball Camp||2nd-9th|
|EHS Boys Volleyball Camp||4th-9th|
|Tiger Football Future’s Camp||7th-9th|
|Wrestling Camp||ages 4-6|
|Edwardsville Tiger Golf Camp||3rd-8th|
|EHS Boys Soccer Camp – Middle School||6th-8th|
|EHS Boys Soccer Camp – High School||9th-12th|
|EHS Throws Camp||6th-12th|
|Edwardsville Field Hockey Summer Camp||4th-12th|
|EHS Summer Dance Camp|
|Edwardsville Summer Volleyball Camp||1st-9th|
|Choir Camp||current grades 3rd-8th|
#FridayFeature: Peggy Emling and Michelle Goebel
Peggy Emling and Michelle Goebel | 8th Grade DC Trip Coordinators
Planning a trip for nearly 150 eighth graders is no simple task, but Peggy Emling and Michelle Goeble make it look easy.
The duo took over as trip leaders of the Washington DC trip in 2013, planning for their first trip together in 2014. The DC trip is an institution for Edwardsville junior high/middle school students as they have been making this trip for 35 years.
Goebel went on her first trip as a chaperone in 1996 and completed her 17th trip two weeks ago, while Emling has now been part of 12 trips after being asked to first chaperone in 2001.
“Apart from the educational component, I love the challenge of planning a trip this size,” said Emling. “I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I love puzzles, and making this trip happen is just another giant puzzle to solve.”
“I was honored when I was first asked to chaperone and am still honored to be able to make this trip happen for our middle school students,” said Goeble, who added that it’s the kids that keep her helping to plan the trip year after year.
“I enjoy visiting the historical sites, but I truly love seeing the excitement in the kids’ eyes when they see the sites for the first time, especially the monuments and memorials in DC.”
For Emling, who teaches seventh-grade social studies and has been with District #7 for 23 years, it’s a chance to visit the sites talked about in class.
“I love field trips and teaching outside of the classroom, and this is just one huge field trip,” she said. “We visit sites that we talk about in class, and when students go to those places, they are able to make a much deeper connection to our lessons and to their history.”
In addition to taking in all the sights in Washington DC, the trip also visits Gettysburg, Monticello, Jamestown and Williamsburg. All the sites visited are chosen because they have a direct connection to what is taught in middle school social studies.
“We want students to make deeper connections to those lessons, so that they have better appreciation for their history,” added Emling. “If I were an eighth grader, I would go on this trip because there’s never going to be another opportunity exactly like this.
Emling and Goebel both want to give students the best experience possible, and even though they are pros at their roles, they are always seeking ways to improve it from the previous year.
“We know that this trip is a big financial commitment for families, so we want to give them the most bang for their buck, while providing a fun, yet educational experience,” said Goebel, who has been with District #7 for 30 years.
Emling added that for some students it may be the only time they are ever able to travel like this.
“They will remember this for the rest of their lives, so we want to make sure that it’s a positive memory and that it will encourage a life of learning and exploring their history and their world. Traveling can be the best teacher. It just gives you a perspective that you can’t get in a classroom.”
Despite just returning from DC, plans are already underway for 2023 as the travel company, Worldstrides, offers early registration and some financial discount.
“This really is an educational tour like no other and it would be difficult for a family to pack as much into a day as we do,” said Goebel. “None of this would be possible either without the support District 7 has given to this trip over the years, as well as the Lincoln Alumni Association for providing scholarship funds so that more students can experience this incredible trip.”
Summer Enrichment Opportunities
Summer Enrichment opportunities are back!
See the attached flyers for exciting summer opportunities for students in grades K-8 and STEM courses for students in grades 3-8.
Please use the links below to sign up for summer courses.
Once completed, send or bring payment to:
District 7 Center for Learning
1210 North Main Street
Edwardsville, IL 62025
All enrollment is pending until payment has been received.
For questions on any of these, please contact Julie Dean at 618-655-6021.
Summer Enrichment Flyers
#TeacherTuesday: Sean Mead, Liberty Computers
Sean Mead | Liberty Middle School | 7th Grade Computers
Being comfortable on a computer is a necessity in today’s workforce. As the computers teacher at Liberty Middle School, Sean Mead helps prepare his students for that.
“Building skills that allow them to feel comfortable and confident using a computer can open a lot of other doors for them.”
Mead is in his fourth year at Liberty. He previously was an assistant for two years at Lincoln and spent one year teaching in Alton before finding his way back to District #7.
Mead wanted to become a teacher when he started college, but ultimately ended up going in another direction. In 2015, he felt called back into education and went back to school.
“Coaching wrestling helped me realize that working with kids is what I was truly meant to do.”
He enjoys the energy level of middle school students, saying it matches his own.
“I think this age is really important in their development, both mentally and emotionally, and I want to help them figure out the kind of people they want to become.”
Along with teaching, Mead is the head wrestling coach at Liberty and works with the Edwardsville Wrestling Club, which means that when he’s not in the classroom, you can usually find him at wrestling practice or a tournament.
Mead also enjoys staying active, from working out to boxing/muay thai and jiu-jitsu. He and his wife also like to travel and love food, whether it be trying new restaurants or cooking new recipes.
Additionally, he and his wife just had their first child, a baby boy, Isaac, in January.
“I love being a dad and am looking forward to spending the summer with him!”
District Principals and Guests Attend 2022 IPA Breakfast
Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 principals honored students with an invitation to join them for the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) Southwestern region 2022 Student Recognition Breakfast at the Gateway Center in Collinsville on April 27.
Students were selected for their character, hard work and leadership. Those students from District #7 who were invited include:
Sarah Russell (Nelson Elementary)
Lucy Maynard (Woodland Elementary)
Max Armas (Hamel Elementary)
Emma Cochran (Midway Elementary)
Amelie Kennedy (Albert Cassens Elementary)
Jack Breihan (Columbus Elementary)
Katherine Galle (Goshen Elementary)
Laila Roundtree (Worden Elementary)
Rubylyn Douglas (Leclaire Elementary)
Elizabeth Gordon (Glen Carbon Elementary)
Yorm Nutsukpui (Liberty Middle School)
Zane Maxwell (Liberty Middle School)
Mia Marshall (Lincoln Middle School)
Jackson Elliott (Lincoln Middle School)
Emma Garner (Edwardsville High School)
Tyler Chrenka (Edwardsville High School)
EHS Junior Qualifies for Junior Open Agility World Championships
Edwardsville High School junior Allysa Daube has her summer plans set. Daube will be heading to Finland in July to compete in the Junior Open Agility World Championships with her dog, Piper Grace.
Daube fell in love with agility after seeing her cousin, who lives in Pennsylvania, come to the St. Louis area for a show at Purina Farms a few years ago.
“I just loved watching the dogs and how they connected with their handlers and said I wanted to do that.”
Daube saved up her money and began looking for a dog. Her cousin sent her a photo of a dog that her friend’s dad had that was too energetic for him. A 22-hour trip to Pennsylvania later, Daube brought home Piper Grace, a one-and-a-half-year-old miniature Australian Shepherd.
Daube describes agility as “connecting with your dog”.
“It’s not just going out and running the course with your dog, it’s connecting with each other and trusting each other and being able to change commands to get your dog to the right place.”
Daube started training Piper Grace for agility when she was two years old and began with basic obedience skills, such as sit and stay. They then worked up to simple sequences like jump, jump, tunnel before building to bigger sequences and eventually a full course.
Daube and Piper Grace train about three hours a week, including an hour and a half each week with her coach at Triune Canine Training and Event Center in Wood River. They also spend time in the backyard training.
While the duo has competed in several competitions – nearly 2-3 per month and mostly throughout Missouri and Illinois – the world championships will be their largest competition.
“I had learned about internationals and the world championships last summer but didn’t think I was ready to apply just yet and didn’t think I had all the skills I needed.”
So, Daube waited until this year to complete the online application process, which includes submitting videos and an essay.
She was taking a math test during sixth hour when the call came to let her know she made the team.
“I saw a number on my Apple watch from Texas and thought that’s weird. But after class, I picked up my phone, saw they left a message, and it was them.”
The US team will consist of 24 individuals and their dogs, along with a couple alternates. Daube will meet some of her teammates at a May practice in Missouri but won’t meet many of her teammates until they are all in Finland.
Daube loves everything about competing in agility although her favorite thing may be clicking with Piper Grace.
“I like being consistent with her and doing as well as do. When we’re on the course, we are focused and both have our jobs to do and if we do them right, we’ll be successful.”
In between practices and weekly competitions, Daube is also an honors student and is highly involved at EHS. She is in her first year of playing lacrosse, is on the EPIC Council, is president of the Animal Rescue Club, a member of the National Honor Society and the English National Honory Society and plays handbells in her church.
#FridayFeature: Michelle Wilkerson, Columbus School Counselor
Michelle Wilkerson | Columbus Elementary | School Counselor
Michelle Wilkerson decided to become a school counselor after a few years in the classroom.
“I was teaching in a very poor, rural school. Many of our students didn’t have electricity or running water. As a school, we did not have many available resources to help these students that were demonstrating high social-emotional needs.”
Initially, Wilkerson was hoping to learn some tools to help her students in the classroom. Instead, it led her to becoming a school counselor.
Wilkerson has been at Columbus and part of the District #7 staff for three years but has 14 years of experience as a teacher and a counselor out of state.
Her passion is helping individuals overcome obstacles. She enjoys helping students solve problems and move past difficult situations.
“Mental health is increasingly a struggle for many of our students. I am thankful that I can support those individuals that are going through a difficult time.”
As a school counselor, Wilkerson is a problem solver. She works with students individually in small groups, and in classrooms.
“A counselor’s goal is to develop skills to help students be successful in school.”
The thing she enjoys most about her job is that no two days are ever the same.
“I always have a long to-do list but know that each day an issue may arise that requires my immediate attention. I enjoy working in collaboration with other staff members to determine the best ways to help students.”
While some days are exhausting and there are many days that she wishes she could do more, it is always rewarding for Wilkerson to look back and know she helped a student.
“Sometimes the problems are small, and they just need a little encouragement. Sometimes the problems are large and require more involved plans of assistance. No matter the size of the problem, it is rewarding to see students overcome an obstacle and blossom.”
2022-27 Strategic Plan Draft Announced
May 4, 2022
Dear District #7 Community,
We are excited to present the draft of our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan, which will take District #7 from 2022 through 2027.
Below you will find a link to watch a video that outlines the plan as well as a link to a PDF of the draft plan.
Upon completion of watching the video and looking through the draft plan, I invite you to share feedback through the link below. This survey will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 8, 2022.
Additionally, during the Board of Education work session on Monday, May 9, 2022, the Board will hear an overview of the strategic plan and cover feedback solicited from the community. The work session will also provide an opportunity for public comments regarding the strategic plan.
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
DISTRICT #7 2022-2027 STRATEGIC PLAN DRAFT
|2022-27 Strategic Plan info on D7 website|
|2022-2027 Draft Strategic Plan Video|
|2022-2027 Draft Strategic Plan|
FFA Spring Experience Set for Saturday
#TeacherTuesday: Maggie Dust, 7th Grade Science
Maggie Dust | Lincoln Middle School | 7th Grade Science
Throughout the school year, Lincoln Middle School seventh grade science teacher Maggie Dust always circles back to ‘science is not magic, but it can be magical’ with her students.
“There are so many things around us that seem magical, but really it narrows down to some kind of process or connection to something else. Photosynthesis is one subject that they come in knowing some details. But when we complete lab experiments and analyze data from them, they have more connection with the hands-on reality that we NEED plants for more than just food.”
Dust, who is in her 11th year of teaching, including her ninth at Lincoln, always knew she wanted to be a teacher.
“I think the first known memory of this goal was all the great experiences I had with my first-grade teacher. She went above and beyond to make each subject interesting and exciting.”
Dust said her favorite thing about teaching seventh grade is that middle school is such a time of development for students this age.
“I love the growth we get to see over the three years they are here. In my science class, they make so many connections for themselves for the first time. Seeing the ‘ah-ha’ moments of how a process works or why something happens the way it does is amazing. It’s like the first time they are thinking deeper on concepts they thought they knew about before my class.”
When she’s not in the classroom, Dust enjoys being outdoors exploring with her husband and their three littles. She added that she runs more days than not and enjoys chocolate and coffee as often as she can.
Letter to the District #7 Community: Prop E Follow-Up
April 27, 2022
Dear District #7 Community Member:
Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 is in a better place than it was five years ago when voters passed Proposition E in April of 2017, a referendum which provided an additional $0.55 to the District’s Education Fund tax rate and over $7 million annually in additional funding. It was the first tax rate increase for District #7 since 1977. Prop E followed a reduction of over $14 million in operating expenses, the depletion of existing cash reserves, and of $9 million in issued working cash bonds to maintain programming for students.
As a result of the funds generated by Prop E, District #7 did not require any additional reductions in programming and were able to maintain band and orchestra at the elementary level, middle school and freshman sports, summer school programming, and provide our teachers with much-needed raises to maintain an average salary competitive with other area districts.
During the campaign for Proposition E, several ‘promises’ were made by District #7 to the community – ones that would not only reinstate many of the cuts from the previous years but put plans in place to move District #7 forward. I’m proud to provide you with an update on many of those promises which have been fulfilled:
- Class sizes at all levels have been reduced to levels from prior to Prop E;
- Over 660 school security cameras have been installed to improve school safety;
- Since 2018, curriculum studies have been conducted in K-12 science, K-5 English/language arts, social studies by course, and plans are underway for additional studies in physical education and health, K-12 social studies, and middle school English/language arts;
- New textbooks/resources have been purchased for K-8 science, social studies, K-5 and 9-12 English/language arts, and K-12 math;
- Wi-Fi has been installed in all classrooms across the district, and plans are underway to increase connectivity and replace old switches and routers in areas of need;
- District #7 has purchased devices for all certified staff members and students in grades 6-12, and during the 2022-2023 school year will provide devices to students in K-5;
- $5.3 million dollars of debt in the Education Fund has been eliminated;
- Year-end working cash reserves will total $3 million which contributed to District #7 being approved for Financial Recognition and removal from the Financial Watch List.
District #7 continues to move forward. Next week, we will release a video providing our community with an overview of the strategic plan being developed for 2022-2027. The video will be available on our website at www.ecusd7.org or on our District #7 Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ECUSD7). This plan will provide District #7 with a pathway to provide an educational experience to students which is unparalleled in our region. We look forward to sharing our plan with you, and to a future of fulfilled promises to students in District #7!
With Tiger Pride,
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
#FridayFeature: Brenda Ohm, EHS Registrar
Brenda Ohm | Edwardsville High School | Registrar
Brenda Ohm is a District 7 staple, having spent the last 23 years as the registrar. In all, she’s dedicated 33 years to the district, which has included one year as a playground monitor, seven years as a teaching assistant with a behavior class, and two years as a 10-month secretary.
“I’ve always enjoyed school and when the opportunity came to volunteer, and then work in a school setting, I took the leap.”
As the registrar, she works with the master schedule, which as she says is ‘like a puzzle you put together’ to ensure students get the courses they need to graduate and meet the District’s guidelines each year.
Ohm is also responsible for working with the teachers on their grades for students, sending out transcripts for students who have graduated and will graduate to colleges, universities or job prospects, working with new families in the District to get their child enrolled at EHS, working with families leaving the District on paperwork for their new school, and working with the counselors by supporting them in any way possible.
Ohm was asked about being the registrar when she was working as a secretary at the junior high.
“I checked into the job and thought I would like the challenge. I love this job!”
Ohm said the thing she enjoys the most about her job is working on the master schedule, while the people who are the most rewarding aspect.
“I get to work with all the amazing staff and students and their families in this district.” #d7proud
Reminder: No Strategic Planning Event on April 21
A reminder to the D7 community that in an effort to reach more of our stakeholders, we have decided to adjust the previously scheduled strategic planning community engagement event on Thursday, April 21, 2022 to be a virtual webinar that will be available the first week of May on our website and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ECUSD7). There will also be a survey link to respond with feedback. We understand everyone’s time is valuable and this will hopefully give a larger group of stakeholders a chance to review the plan more in depth. Additionally, during the Board of Education work session on May 9, 2022, the Board will hear an overview of the strategic plan and cover feedback solicited from the community. The work session will also provide an opportunity for public comments regarding the strategic plan.
#TeacherTuesday: Ashley Ridler, Cassens Elementary
Ashley Ridler | Cassens Elementary | 3rd Grade
Ashley Ridler is in her third year of teaching, with her career beginning at Cassens Elementary upon graduation from college.
Ridler always knew she wanted a career where she helped people and throughout high school, went back and forth between teaching and social work. Eventually, though, she decided to focus on teaching.
“I always had great teachers growing up, and I met some amazing teachers throughout my student teaching experiences in college. Once I began student teaching and saw how much of a positive impact a good teacher can have on students, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Ridler said her favorite thing about teaching is the connections she makes with her students.
“The best feeling is when students feel comfortable enough in my classroom and feel like they can really be themselves. I really loved getting to know my students and getting to see their personalities more and more throughout the year.”
When it comes to teaching third grade, it’s seeing that huge growth that students make from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
“When they come in at the beginning of the year, they’re so shy and timid. They go from being the oldest kids in their primary building, to being the youngest in the intermediate setting. You can tell that they’re so nervous the first few weeks in third grade. Throughout the year though, they really come into their own. It is so amazing to watch how confident they become and how much they grow socially and academically.”
When she’s not in the classroom, Ridler loves doing anything creative. Last summer she learned how to do her own nails, teaching herself acrylic nails and nail art using gel polish.
“I can sit there for hours doing different nail designs. And it definitely saves me a lot of money doing my nails at home!”
Woodland’s Read & Run Event
#FridayFeature: Jeff Wallis, EHS Psychologist
Jeff Wallis | Edwardsville High School | Psychologist
Jeff Wallis, EHS psychologist, says school psychologists help all students to be their best selves.
“We are experts in mental health, learning and behavior. We also support our students, teachers, administrators, and families in promoting positive mental health and behavior, improving academic achievement, supporting diverse learners, creating safe and positive school climates, and strengthening those school-family partnerships.”
Wallis has spent seven years at EHS and 14 in District #7. His time has also included three and a half years at Liberty Middle School and three and a half years at Hadley as a Special Education and Student Services Administrator.
Prior to working in the schools, Wallis had several other jobs. He was a researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at Wash U, a lecturer in the Behavioral Sciences Department up at Millikin University and worked as a clinician and administrator in several mental health clinics in St. Louis and Central Illinois.
Psychology was always a natural fit for Wallis.
“I like science and philosophy and have always been curious about why people do the things they do.”
However, when working as a clinician, he observed a growing and unmet need for behavioral and mental health services for children and adolescents.
“Schools are an ideal place to provide these services, and research supports that youth are more likely to seek help from school-based mental health staff. I figured I could make the greatest impact here in the schools.”
Wallis said being a school psychologist comes with a great deal of responsibility and can be challenging at times, but that there is much to love about the job.
“I get to be an advocate for students and their families and help students thrive. I do not take for granted how lucky I am to get to work with such driven, passionate, and creative teachers, administrators, and related services staff. Trust me – they are amazing! I also enjoy supervising doctoral- and specialist-level interns and giving back to my field. In this job, no two days are ever the same. I like this variety. Having summers off to be with my family does not hurt either.”
He added that the rewards of the job are also special.
“Helping students make positive changes and grow academically, socially, and emotionally is hands down the most rewarding part of job!”
Wise Takes First Place in CEO Fish Tank Competition
Congratulations to EHS senior Michael Wise, who earned first place at the CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) Fish Tank business pitch competition. His pitch was for his company Mi-Disc, a frisbee golf company that offers custom discs. Every order is custom designed by the customer and then dyed by Wise.
Since August, CEO students, which is comprised of 20 seniors from Edwardsville High School, Metro-East Lutheran, and Father McGivney Catholic High School, have been developing an individual business venture, a side hustle that they could launch during their senior year of high school. At the Fish Tank competition, each student gave a three-minute pitch followed by two minutes of Q&A.
Fellow EHS senior Kyla Archer received honorable mention for her pitch of Kids Kitz.
April 7, 2022
Dear District #7 families,
As we near the end of this week before Spring Break, I wanted to share a few District updates.
As you may recall in last week’s communication, I noted the e-Learning plan that was presented to the Board of Education. According to Section 10-20.56 of Illinois School Code, school districts may utilize “e-Learning days” in lieu of emergency days (snow days). To do this, one of the requirements is that the district hold a public hearing and have an e-Learning proposal approved by the Board of Education. To meet this requirement, District 7 will hold a public hearing at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 25, 2022, at Liberty Middle School in the auditorium. If the plan is approved by the Board of Education and the Regional Office of Education, District 7 will be able to use up to five e-Learning days in lieu of snow days when weather conditions make it dangerous to get students to school.
I had also shared that our next strategic plan community engagement event was scheduled for Thursday, April 21, 2022. However, to reach more of our District #7 stakeholders, we have decided to adjust the event on April 21 to be a virtual webinar that will be sent out the following week. There will also be a survey link to respond with feedback. We understand everyone’s time is valuable and this will hopefully give a larger group of stakeholders a chance to review the plan more in depth. Additionally, during the Board of Education work session on May 9, 2022, the Board will hear an overview of the strategic plan and cover feedback solicited from the community. The work session will also provide an opportunity for public comments regarding the strategic plan.
Finally, in addition to hiring four new principals for the 2022-23 school year, we have completed the process of hiring other administrative positions. During this school year, we have been working through a district reorganization process that has allowed us to restructure several positions within the district. As a result, we are also happy to welcome Mr. Bill Herman as the Assistant Athletic Director, Mr. Marvin Battle as Interim Coordinator of Alternative Programs, Mr. Paul Stuart as Coordinator of Student Experiences, Mrs. Jessica Tatum as Administrative Intern at Goshen Elementary, and Mrs. Sina Rowe as the District #7 Behavior Interventionist. Each of these positions was vacated this year or created through the reorganization process which resulted in no additional new staff allocations needed.
As always, it is a wonderful time to be part of District #7! I hope you have a wonderful Spring Break and enjoy the time to relax and to be with family and friends.
With Tiger Pride,
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
Making the World a Brighter Place
Mrs. Kierbach’s class at Woodland Elementary made it their mission to make the world a brighter place. (spoiler note… they accomplished their mission!)
Vickie Rodgers authored the book Ms. Ruby and the Gigi Squad: Friendship Comes in All Ages. Rodgers, better known as Gigi, and Woodland student Will Beatty, are both members of the Gigi Squad. The squad’s mission is to bring friendship and kindness to older adults in our community. One of the many ways they brighten days is by decorating and filling bags with treats. These bags are aptly named Sunshine Bags!
Mrs. Kierbach’s class challenged Woodland to create 100 Sunshine Bags! Students created letters, cards, and artwork for the bags. They also asked for donations of chocolate (Easter candy), adult coloring books, large print crossword or other puzzles, eyeglass cleaning cloths, stationery, envelopes, pens, and other items that would brighten someone’s day.
On Wednesday, the school celebrated their goal of creating 100 Sunshine Bags with a school-wide Sunshine Day where students wore hats and shades to celebrate. Mrs. Rodgers visited with Mrs. Kierbach’s class last Friday and on Wednesday, picked up the bags, which will be delivered over Spring Break.
#TeacherTuesday: Emily Cimarolli, Nelson 2nd Grade
Emily Cimarolli | Nelson Elementary | 2nd Grade
Nelson Elementary second grade teacher Emily Cimarolli has always loved school – the curriculum, the challenge of learning new things, the social opportunities and the daily interactions.
“School was always a happy place for me, from kindergarten all the way through my undergrad. I have wonderful memories of my elementary teachers and my love of school was greatly shaped through them.”
Her love of school was a big reason for getting her master’s degree in curriculum design and instruction as well.
“I just loved being in the school setting and was not quite ready to have my education finished yet.”
Cimarolli has been with District #7 for 10 years. She began as an assistant with Preschool Academy the first year it was held in D7. She also taught kindergarten at Goshen and first grade at Leclaire for a year before coming to Nelson. Cimarolli taught first grade there for three years and is in her fourth year in second grade. She is also the assistant tennis coach at EHS and coordinator for Edwardsville Tennis Academy and Junior Team Tennis.
“My favorite part about teaching second grade is the confidence, growth and independence students develop through the year. They have such a great foundation through kindergarten and first grade, so they are well prepared for the higher expectations in second grade and beyond.”
Her favorite things about being a teacher are the lightbulb moments and the connections she makes with students.
“I love seeing the spark in a student’s eye when the skill finally clicks and the confidence they then have to keep going. I love seeing students make text to text or real-world connections with our curriculum.”
Cimarolli added that this year her students have been exposed to homophones and homonyms and that now every time we see an example in stories or on worksheets, students share their knowledge of the multiple spellings or meanings.
When she’s not in the classroom, Cimarolli can be found on the tennis court.
“In addition to coaching, I still play competitively for myself, taking part in leagues and tournaments throughout the year.”
She added that walking and playing with her one and half year-old chocolate lab, moose, is always a bright spot in her day. Cimarolli also loves all things Disney and Marvel, binge watching shows on Netflix, starting new book series and enjoying Bobby’s concrete flavor of the week.
Inaugural Middle School Junior Olympiad Held
This past Saturday (April 2), math team members from Liberty and Lincoln came together to participate in the first-ever Edwardsville Middle Schools’ Junior Olympiad competition organized by middle school math teachers Gardner Holland, Katie Sok, and Kyle Lask.
This friendly competition mixed students from each school into four-person teams. These teams completed six rounds which included building and throwing paper airplanes, building the tallest tower out of straws, building a basket out of only two manila folders that would hold tennis balls, and paper-and-pencil trivia questions. The competition allowed students to work collaboratively and creatively to complete the tasks. It was a fun day of activities and friendly competition. Congratulations to our winners and thank you to all who participated!
Ethan D., Arthur L., David M., and Brianna M.
Koen C., Merrick E., and Liam S.
Jude L., Aidan S., Nolan S., and Andrew W.
EHS Choir Students Prepare for trip to NYC, Performance at Carnegie Hall
It’s an exciting week for EHS choir director Emily Ottwein and 26 of her students as they will travel to New York City to work with Deke Sharon, the arranger of all the music in the Pitch Perfect movies.
The EHS group, along with students from all over the United States, will spend Friday and Saturday rehearsing before performing under Sharon’s direction at Carnegie Hall on Sunday.
“Just going to Carnegie Hall is amazing in itself but getting to perform there is any performing arts kid’s dream,” said junior Noelle Sonderegger.
Ottwein said EHS was selected three years ago for a concert with another clinician after they saw a recording on YouTube of one of the EHS’s performances. The group was supposed to go again last year but had to cancel because of COVID.
“I am happy we were given this opportunity to go back, and I am more than grateful for the opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall,” said senior Rowan Foley.
Ottwein added that they didn’t have to audition for this trip and that once a school has been selected, they can go anytime. However, there were open spots for specific ensembles to audition to sing their own songs. Ottwein submitted a recording of the Chamber Singers singing a version of “Loch Lomond” and it was selected to be a standout performance during the concert. They will also have students performing solos in the repertoire chosen by Mr. Sharon.
Ottwein is excited for her students to have this experience.
“They have been exposed to how we do things here and they’ve been exposed to the conductors I bring in, but I’m looking forward to them seeing a bigger picture. Deke Sharon is famous in the composing world, and he’s made it as a career out of music. So, I’m excited for them to see that next level.”
The choral students have been practicing the music since January in preparation for the trip as they must have it memorized before they go.
“We’ve been practicing for a while and balancing it with everything else we have going on,” said senior Ryan Whaley. “We’ve been making this a priority though to show that we do deserve to be there.”
Senior Reese Pifer added that she is looking forward to being able to represent her school.
“I never imagined I would get to do this. I’ve loved singing for a long time, so to be able to go and represent EHS is crazy to think about.”
In addition to learning this music, it’s a different type of music than the EHS students are used to.
“It’s all of Mr. Sharon’s arrangements,” said Ottwein. “He takes popular music and arranges it for choral singing. It’s vocalized instrumental music, which is a different kind of music for them. We sing choral music that is written for choral, so that will be a new experience in itself.”
In addition to singing and performing at Carnegie Hall, the students will have plenty of other NYC experiences from seeing a Broadway show to going to the 911 museum and taking a harbor cruise past the Statue of Liberty.
“It’s cool in general to get to perform in Carnegie, but it’s even better to have that experience of being in New York City together as a vocal group and as friends.”
#FridayFeature: Cindy Johnson, Glen Carbon Nurse
Cindy Johnson | Glen Carbon Elementary | School Nurse
District #7 is full of incredible nurses, including that of Glen Carbon Elementary’s Cindy Johnson. Johnson is the longest tenured nurse in the District, having served students for 25 years.
“I love being a school nurse and being there not only for the students, but their families. I want the kiddos to be healthy so they can learn and thrive in the school environment.”
Johnson came to District #7 in 1997 after seven years as a nurse at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Granite City where she worked on a step-down unit, primarily caring for cardiac patients.
Johnson grew up around healthcare as her father was a chiropractic physician and her mother assisted with physical therapy in his office. So, when it came time for Johnson to decide what she wanted to do, it only seemed natural that she chose nursing.
However, it was her father who suggested Johnson obtain her school nursing certification after she graduated from SIUE “should she need it one day”. After getting married and starting a family and thinking that a school schedule would be more conducive to family life, that suggestion turned out to be a good one.
Johnson’s D7 career began up north as the nurse for Hamel, Midway, Worden and the alternative high school, which was previously in that area. As more nurses in the District were hired, she covered just Hamel and Midway and then Hamel and Glen Carbon from 2002-08 before becoming a permanent fixture at Glen Carbon in 2009. (fun fact: Johnson has worked with eight different principals during her time in District #7)
“When people think about school nurses, they immediately think about first aid and applying a band aid or an ice pack, but it goes beyond that now. We are seeing more and more children that have severe health conditions, whether it be a student who is diabetic or a student who has a feeding tube, so it is good to have a nurse who is knowledgeable on those things.”
Johnson added that nurses are also an extension of teachers and can be found in the classroom from time to time as well, promoting handwashing or teaching students about dental care.
“It’s a lot of promotion and prevention and working with families as well. Being a school nurse, you are the sole health care provider, so both students and staff come with lots of questions.”
Working with the students and their families is one of Johnson’s favorite parts of her job.
“It’s gratifying to see the many families that come through and being able to getgo know them and develop that relationship with them.”
And working with elementary-aged students is a bonus.
“It’s their cuteness. From the unique and innocent questions they ask, to the artwork they bring by for me to hang up. I do love being able to help them and be there in a time of need for them.”
District #7 Updates
District #7 updates from Superintendent Patrick Shelton. Read below or watch the video.
March 31, 2022
Dear District #7 families,
Warmer weather is here (or was until today), our spring sports teams are back on their respective fields playing, the spring musical is this weekend and there is so much to celebrate in District #7!
At Monday night’s monthly Board of Education meeting, several important items were addressed related to the future of District #7.
First, we finished the process of hiring four new principals for the 2022-2023 school year. We are excited to welcome Kelli Pirtle to Woodland Elementary, Katie Bevis-O’Neal to Cassens Elementary, Melissa Edwards to Nelson Elementary, and Nancy Werden to Worden Elementary. These four individuals join a team of talented school leaders who are all excited as we plan for 2022-2023.
Also at the board meeting, the Board adopted the new middle school programming model which will begin with the 2023-2024 school year. The work of developing this model began in the fall of 2021 and includes a change in the master schedule for all middle school students. Beginning in the Fall of 2023, all middle school students will participate in an advisory period at the beginning of the school day and will have the opportunity to participate in up to 12 elective courses during their middle school career. While much work remains to be done in preparation for 2023, we are excited about the opportunities this will provide each student in our District #7 middle schools.
Work on our strategic plan continues and I ask that you please save the date for Thursday, April 21, 2022, when we will hold our next community engagement event. At that time, we will present a draft of the strategic plan that will guide District #7 through the 2026-2027 school year. The plan has five focus areas: Student Success, Thriving Workforce, Safe and Supportive Schools, Family and Community Engagement, and Efficient and Effective Operations, and we believe this plan will set District #7 on a trajectory of excellence for years to come.
The Board also reviewed an e-Learning plan that was presented to them earlier this month at the work session. On Monday, April 25, 2022, the Board will hold a public hearing regarding the incorporation of eLearning days into the 2022-2023 school calendar. By January 2023, District #7 plans to have devices available for all students in K-12 classrooms, and a plan to address eLearning for our young learners in preschool. As a result, the Board will consider action to include up to 5 e-learning days in the 2022-2023 school calendar. Please know that we are NOT taking away all snow days. Instead, this will provide District #7 with the flexibility to utilize eLearning Days AND emergency days depending on the winter conditions.
Registration for the 2022-23 school year begins on Monday, May 2, 2022. More information regarding registration will be sent out later in April.
Finally, Spring Break for District #7 is just around the corner starting at the end of the day on Friday, April 8, 2022. I hope our students, staff and families take advantage of the opportunity to refresh and recharge as we return to school on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, ready to finish the year strong.
There is not a better time to be part of District #7 and all the exciting things taking place. I look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming District #7 events!
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
Unified Sports Day at EHS
Nancy Werden Announced as New Principal at Worden
Edwardsville Community Unit Schools District #7 has named Nancy Werden the new principal of Worden Elementary.
Werden’s hire was approved March 28 by the District #7 Board of Education. She will take the school’s helm starting with the 2022-23 school year.
Werden will replace Dr. Beth Renth, who will be stepping down as principal at Worden Elementary School at the end of this school year, and then retiring in December 2022.
“Ms. Werden is an experienced educator who brings a wealth of talent and skill to this position,” said District #7 Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton. “We look forward to seeing our staff and students at Worden Elementary thrive under her leadership.”
Werden has spent much of her career at Staunton CUSD 6 as a teacher, elementary and junior high principal, educational services coordinator and interim superintendent over the past 27 years. She has worked in various academic programs and carried out and worked to implement programs and procedures aligned to the district’s mission and vision.
“I am honored to be selected as the new principal of Worden Elementary School and look forward to meeting all the students, staff, families and community members,” said Werden. “My goal is to ensure that everyone is excited to come to school every day, to be proud of their achievements and to celebrate our accomplishments with the community.”
Werden holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in educational leadership and a specialist’s degree – all from SIU Edwardsville. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree, also from SIUE.
Werden and her husband, Rob, and their two children, Bobby and Remington, live on a farm in Prairietown, Ill. She enjoys helping the local 4H club, watching her kids play sports and spending time with her family.
Melissa Edwards Named Permanent Principal at Nelson
After serving in the position in interim since December 2021, the Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 announced that Melissa Edwards is the permanent principal at N.O. Nelson Elementary. The decision was approved March 28 by the District #7 Board of Education and becomes effective with the start of the 2022-23 school year.
“Ms. Edwards provided a seamless transition to Nelson earlier this year and has proven herself as a talented and passionate school leader,” said District #7 Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton. “We look forward to her continuing to provide leadership and support for the students and staff at Nelson.”
Edwards joined District #7 prior to the 2020-21 school year as an assistant principal at Liberty Middle School. She previously spent 13 years in the Alton School District, including seven years as an assistant principal at Alton High School. Edwards began her career in education as an eighth-grade math teacher at Alton.
“I’m incredibly honored to be a part of the Nelson family,” said Edwards. “Students learn and grow so much at the primary level and I’m excited to be a part of their educational journey and look forward to developing a thriving community of learners at Nelson Elementary!”
Edwards holds a master’s degree in educational administration and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, both from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is currently pursuing her education specialist degree from SIUE.
#TeacherTuesday: Kim Michel, Goshen Elementary
Kim Michel | Goshen Elementary | 2nd Grade
Kim Michel has always loved children and worked at a day care throughout high school and college but wasn’t necessarily fond of the salary of teachers, so she completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology and business.
She began her professional career in human resources and while she enjoyed it, she really missed children. After Michel had children of her own, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in education and has not looked back.
Michel has been teaching for 24 years. She taught second grade for five years at St. Mary’s before being hired at Leclaire to teach kindergarten.
“That was the most rewarding year I have ever had as a teacher. It opened my eyes to how hard a kindergarten teacher works.”
The following year she moved to second grade at Leclaire and then in 2008 when Goshen opened, Michel took a second-grade position there.
“I’ve been blessed with the best co-workers my entire teaching career as they have become my forever family.”
Michel said she loves the curiosity and the sweetness of second graders.
“This is my favorite time of year because I am really seeing their growth and we know each other so well. They can be themselves and we have fun while we are learning together. I feel very blessed to have this wonderful group of students and parents in what could have been a difficult year due to the pandemic.”
Recently, she has enjoyed seeing former students who have grown up.
“A few years ago, I had the privilege of having one of my kindergarten students as my student teacher. That was a wonderful experience! And this year I have the daughter of a student I had from the day care I worked at in college. I love seeing all my favorites growing up and coming back into my life!” #
#FridayFeature: Kelly Baird, Woodland Elementary
Woodland Elementary Special Education Teacher Kelly Baird was in grade school when they used to let the sixth, seventh and eighth graders help with kindergartners and first graders during recess.
“I really enjoyed that and decided I wanted to be a teacher.”
At the same time, PL94-142 had passed and special education was coming into being.
“I thought that sounded even better. The more I learned, the more I thought special education was for me.”
When Baird began at District #7 30 years ago, her mentor teacher was a communications disorder teacher.
“She was amazing! I learned so much about how language affects everything we do. Then I got to work with two girls who were on the Autism spectrum (although not yet diagnosed), and I was fascinated by how their minds work.”
Baird had opportunities to attend workshops and learn even more about Autism.
“I knew these were my people! I’ve been in love with that population ever since.”
Baird has been at Woodland since it became Woodland in 1997 except for a two-year stint at Cassens. Her communications disorder classroom is designed to service students with communication disorders in grades three through five who need more support than other cross-categorial special education classrooms can offer.
“I love their personalities! I love their quirky sense of humor. I love their literal thinking. I love the problem solving that goes with working with this population. It’s almost like doing a puzzle – you move the pieces until it clicks.”
Her position comes with many challenges, but it’s also extremely rewarding.
“I feel like the kids have taught me as much as I have taught them. They show me a different way of seeing things. They show how to accept my own self with all my faults. They show me how to see love in a different way.”
#TeacherTuesday: Melissa Unger, Columbus Elementary
Melissa Unger | Columbus Elementary | 4th Grade Special Education
Melissa Unger’s first job out of college was in the corporate world. But that didn’t last long.
“I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life; to be given the chance to help shape the lives of all children.”
Unger is in her 27th year in education, including her 25th at Columbus Elementary.
“Kids are awesome! They have great imaginations and boundless enthusiasm. There is never a dull day when one is hanging out with fourth graders!”
Unger’s mother was also a teacher and was (and still is) her role model.
“I observed the positive, inspiring impact she had on her students’ lives. She was exactly the kind of person I wanted to be when I grew up because she was passionate about her profession and was always striving to better herself.”
When she’s not in the classroom, Unger enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading and gardening.
Career Day Held for EHS Juniors
Friday morning was all about looking towards the future for EHS juniors as Edwardsville High School and the Madison County Regional Office of Education hosted a Career Day.
Career choices can be overwhelming for students, but the Career Day allowed students to have a glimpse into their futures, to learn and understand the careers they may be interested in and understand what certain professionals do in their field of work.
The students began the morning by hearing from four successful EHS graduates – Seth Burgett, Trish Cheatham, EJ Jones and Judge Sarah Smith – as they discussed their career paths and answered a few questions from students.
The students then attended three breakout presentations based upon their top career choices. More than 20 professionals from the community shared their own career experiences that ranged from agriculture/natural resources to business and finance, education, human services, law, manufacturing and engineering just to name a few.
Freshmen and sophomores also had the opportunity to hear from the panel of EHS graduates.
#FridayFeature: Josh Ferry, Buildings and Grounds Director
Josh Ferry grew up thinking he wanted to be a cop, but around the age of 16, he fell into a landscaping position. That in turn, led him to a career with District #7 that began 10 years ago this May as a grounds foreman. In January 2020, he took over as the Buildings and Grounds Director.
Ferry, who grew up in Edwardsville and graduated from EHS and SIU Edwardsville, worked for a couple landscaping guys around Edwardsville and eventually started his own landscaping business when he was in college. He also worked on the grounds crew at SIUE while he was a student there.
Primarily involved with grounds and landscaping when he started with District #7, he’s worked his way up and has learned several new things along the way.
“When I came into this position, I didn’t know a lot about air conditioners, but we have really qualified guys that have taught me a lot and helped me to succeed in managing this department.”
Ferry oversees a department of nearly 90 individuals in grounds, maintenance and custodial services.
“The people in the department are what make this job fun. It takes teamwork. Everyone works together and is great about dropping what we might be doing right now and having to go take care of something else.”
He also likes that the job is something different every day.
“Our schedule changes all day and every day. We don’t know what could happen or when it will happen.”
The function of the Buildings and Grounds Department is to maintain a clean and safe environment for students and staff in all 13 school buildings.
“We always say we go around putting out fires. Any problems that happen in any of the buildings, it’s on us to fix. We also make sure the buildings are functioning as they should be – not too hot and not too cold.”
Ferry said one of the things he’s most proud of during his career with District 7 is the work assist program with special education students.
“We’ve developed a program where we slowly integrate them in and give them jobs where they can succeed. It’s been neat to see some of these kids get jobs and excel and learn a job when they may not be able to do that elsewhere.”
Another thing he takes great pride in is the athletic fields.
“To me, that’s one of the best things about this school district. I love hearing people say how our sports complex is better than some colleges. For us that have and do work those fields, it’s huge for us to have people really see how awesome our facilities are here.”
#TeacherTuesday: Lauren Heigert, Cassens Elementary
Lauren Heigert |Albert Cassens Elementary | 5th Grade Teacher
Most people enter the world of education because they were inspired by some of their own previous educators. The same goes for Albert Cassens fifth grade teacher Lauren Heigert.
“I very distinctly remember my kindergarten and seventh grade Language Arts teachers. They had a knack for making you forget you were even at school because every minute of the day was filled with engagement. I loved their enthusiasm and unconventional techniques that stuck with me many years later.”
Heigert had a desire to be a teacher ever since she was a kindergartner. That desire never waived, but rather it evolved into a passion.
Heigert’s love for teaching was solidified when she was placed in a fourth-grade classroom with the now retired Leslie Piork at Worden Elementary.
“I remember just watching her execute her lessons with grace and precision and would constantly tell myself ‘I hope that is me someday’.”
Heigert is now in her 10th year of teaching, having spent all 10 of those years at Cassens.
The kids are her favorite part of being a teacher.
“Teaching is a direct way to make an impact. I love receiving a new group of learners to nurture each year.”
Their skill sets and demands also force her to not become complacent and to continue to evolve as an educator.
“Without those kids pushing me to meet their needs, it would be easy to plateau. I am a huge advocate for project-based/hands-on learning. By allowing these kids to channel their creativity, I no longer receive “recipes” but true authentic work that depicts their knowledge of understanding. The beauty in teaching is it also allows me to tap into my competitive nature by always striving to be better than my last year self.”
And when it comes to teaching fifth graders, it’s their independence and sense of humor that she enjoys.
“Fifth grade can be a scary age to most, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. These kids are entering one of the most vulnerable ages and need someone to advocate for them, cheer them on, lift their self-esteem, and be an additional life coach. We create a class family based on love and humor.”
As a teacher, she hopes that any student she work with – either inside or outside of her classroom – knows how much she wants them to be successful academically, socially and emotionally.
“I hope they acquire perseverance and problem-solving skills. I want them to know that kindness is the best thing they can infect others with and realize that it will lift them up too.”
When she’s not in the classroom, Heigert enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys, reading and cooking.
D7 Celebrates School Social Work Week
National School Social Work Week is marked every first full week of March to celebrate school social workers across the nation and appreciate their work in helping students achieve academic success. School social workers are professionals within the social work field that work with teachers, parents, and school administrators. They help students deal with mental health and behavioral challenges and provide academic and classroom support. They also help in developing education policies, work with crisis interventions, and identify and report child neglect and abuse.
District #7 has several outstanding social workers and recognized them on social media during the week as they shared what being a school social worker means to them.
KRISTIN AUTERSON, EHS
Being a school social worker means that I have the opportunity to change lives. Social workers provide encouragement and support for ALL students and families. For those that have disabilities that affect the way that they learn, those that are impacted by poverty, mental illness, housing insecurity, family stressors, and also equality. I am their advocate, cheerleader, and voice of reasoning when needed. Social worker’s work as part of a collaborative team with school staff to problem-solve, address barriers, provide interventions, and resources to help student’s become successful not only in the classroom but in daily life. I want my students and families to know that they do not have to face anything alone!
KAYLA DINKELMAN, EHS/LINCOLN
The best part of being a school social worker/counselor is being able to be both an advocate for my students and a trusted person for them to go to for help. I love that I
am able to help my students continue to grow every day and gain new skills to help them succeed in both their academic and everyday lives.
DENISE DOWNES, LINCOLN
Investment in kids, ALL kids, EACH kid, is the way we empower the next generation to reach their potential.
JAMIE ELAFROS, GOSHEN
Being a school social worker means helping students feel safe, supported, and connected so they can be successful. This means helping students who are struggling socially, emotionally, or behaviorally, develop and strengthen skills in regulation and management so that they can achieve success personally, socially, and academically.
LESLIE ELLIS, CASSENS
School social work improves student learning and experiences by strengthening partnerships between home and school, developing systems of support, teaching social skills and emotional regulation, and collaborating with other educators and staff. The days are not easy, and rarely go as planned, but I do not take the special role we serve within our buildings and district for granted.
JILLIAN LEMONS, LECLAIRE/NELSON
DAVE LEWIS, EHS
Being a school worker is an amazing opportunity to help students navigate this difficult time of adolescence. Also to help students develop the skills need to be successful happier adults.
JENNY MULVIHILL, WOODLAND
Being a school social worker means that every day I have a unique opportunity to impact student school success, support teachers and staff, reach out to families, and contribute to a safe, positive school environment. It means making every interaction count and always valuing each individual. It means being there for students and families during their most difficult times but also recognizing how lucky I am to witness all aspects of student growth and to develop meaningful connections with students and the school community.
NICOLE PIENING, WORDEN, HAMEL, MIDWAY
Being a school social worker to me means providing a variety of mental and behavioral health services to students and families so the student can be successful at school and in the community.
MICHELLE WILKERSON, COLUMBUS
I love that I have the opportunity to positively impact the life of a child every single day. My work is challenging, rewarding, and different every single day. I enjoy building relationships with students and helping them learn to solve problems both big and small.
#FridayFeature: Jill Gibson and Dave Dougherty Bring Black Experience Class to EHS
EHS history teachers Jill Gibson and Dave Dougherty are giving students the opportunity to learn a different side of American history. The pair designed a class called Black Experience that focuses on people and events in history that are not often talked about.
“As a history teacher, we talk so much about the same people and the same things,” said Dougherty. “Every year, history gets longer, and we don’t have enough time to dedicate to other groups of people who don’t get talked about a lot. History tends to focus on the same people over and over. And when it comes to black history, it’s typically along the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Harriett Tubman and Rosa Parks. But there are so many other people.”
Both Gibson and Dougherty were involved with the creation of the class. Gibson is in her 18th year at EHS, while Dougherty is in his seventh year.
“With the racial reconning that our country has gone through the last couple of years, I did a lot of self-educating, reading and understanding as much as I could,” said Gibson. “While a few years ago, I felt as though we did a good job in our US History class of covering the history of multiple perspectives, the more I read and the more I learned, I realized we absolutely do not.”
Gibson joined forces with Dougherty and as the work began, the class went into the course catalog. More than 120 students signed up, which to Gibson, was a bit of a surprise.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of time to talk to a lot of kids about this class. We were in and out of remote learning so it wasn’t the perfect scenario to advertise it.”
Dougherty, however, said he was disappointed.
“This is not just a class for black students. It’s a class for all students. It’s an important class to understand history. So, I was disappointed because I think everyone should take it.”
They both describe the class as “history through a different lens” with Gibson pointing to the 4th of July and the Declaration of Independence as an example.
“Both of these are symbols of freedom. But it didn’t mean anything for the millions of people who were enslaved. People just don’t stop and think about it that way and we are really teaching them how to view events, people and stories in history through that different lens. That’s an important skill they can take with them beyond this classroom.”
“History has always been taught one way and not really with a critical look at other viewpoints,” added Dougherty. “After the first semester a lot of students were saying things like ‘this is stuff they don’t teach in school’, but I had to remind them that well, you just learned this in school. So, it’s changing the way they think about what is taught in school.”
The class does have a textbook, but Gibson and Dougherty rarely use it.
“It’s really a discussion, thought-based, lots of what do you want to learn about this time period,” said Dougherty. “It’s amazing to see the excitement students have when you allow students to choose what they learn with parameters.”
“I think we both had students in previous history classes who really didn’t really engage, but with this class they were invested,” added Gibson. “And then to have the students telling others what they learn is just as exciting. These students are going home and talking to their parents, so there’s that ripple effect that one class can have.”
Not even a full year into teaching this class, Dougherty said they will continue to refine the class with things that worked and didn’t work.
“We spent many days last summer designing a class we had never taught, but I think it will be like any other class in that the more you teach it, we’re hopefully adding more value and figuring out what excites kids. Sparking that flame about learning new things is exciting.”
And while the class is named Black Experience, Dougherty wants students to remember that it is a class for everybody.
“It is easy for the black students to sign up for it, but it really is for everyone. With all the racial tension in the world today, we’re trying to dispel some of that and help students understand where different groups of people come from. That’s important.”
Strategic Planning Community Event on March 16
March 10, 2022
Dear District #7 community,
Outstanding work and progress continue to be made with our new strategic plan that will take District #7 from 2022 to 2027.
In January, the Board of Education approved our new mission statement, vision and values that will serve as the foundation of that strategic plan.
Mission Statement: Empowering each student to achieve personal success
Vision: We will build a thriving community of learners while creating authentic, meaningful pathways to success for each student
Values: Community, Inclusivity, Integrity, Students, Success
Click here to see it visually.
Next Wednesday, March 16, 2022, District #7 will hold its next Strategic Planning Community Engagement at 6:30 p.m. in the Edwardsville High School Commons. I encourage anyone interested in shaping the future of District #7 to attend.
This will be the third of four community feedback opportunities and is also one of the most important ones. The evening will begin with a brief overview, followed by breakout sessions that will cover the five goal areas of the strategic plan. Our team leaders will discuss the action steps within their respective goals, while attendees will have the opportunity to provide feedback.
This continues to be an exciting time for District #7 and I hope you will join us as we work together on our future.
Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.
#TeacherTuesday: Jaycie Rodgers, Woodland Elementary
Jaycie Rodgers is no stranger to District #7. Her time with the District dates back to her college education when she completed her field experience at Hamel and her student teaching at Nelson.
Upon graduation she was hired as a long-term substitute teacher at Nelson. Rodgers then taught 13 years at Woodland, two years Goshen and one year at Cassens – all in cross-cat – before returning to Woodland, where she has been the last three years teaching SEL.
“I have always known I wanted to be a teacher. I was blessed by some amazing teachers in my life that inspired me to want to teach.”
As a high school student, she volunteered in a program called Peer Partners in an FLS classroom. It was that experience that led her to choose the field of special education.
Originally, she had planned to teach FLS, but was hired as a cross-cat teacher.
“I love the challenge of differentiating lessons to meet the needs of every student. Working in many grade levels and with so many different students allow me to continue to grow as an educator and challenge myself to meet the many needs I encounter.”
Like a lot of teachers, Rodgers said she loves watching students have those “lightbulb” moments.
“Elementary students are so open and excited about learning. They also love to celebrate each other’s successes.”
When Rodgers is not in the classroom, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, watching movies, going to concerts and shopping.
#FridayFeature: Emily Rayburn, Lincoln Middle School
Emily Rayburn is Lincoln principal Jen Morgan’s secretary. But she’s also a former dancer, a dance company board president, and a sign language student.
Rayburn has only been with District #7 a short time, starting at Liberty in August 2020 as the attendance secretary before moving to Lincoln in late May 2021, but she’s made an impact on those who have worked with her and vice versa.
“Lincoln is a wonderful school with amazing staff members. There is a lot of kindness, humor, sass and hard work ethic in our building.”
The Edwardsville native began dancing when she was six years old at a local studio in town. Rayburn earned a B.F.A. in dance performance and choreography from Western Michigan and then moved to Chicago to begin her dance career.
“I did freelance work for a while and then started my own 501(c)3 non-profit dance company called Hot Crowd in November 2017, which is a modern/contemporary dance company that performs throughout the Midwest.”
The company luckily survived COVID and is back to creating new work and performing. However, with Rayburn’s move back to Southern Illinois, she stepped down from her role as artistic director, but is currently serving as President of the Board in a more advisory role.
When she isn’t busy at Lincoln or assisting the dance company, Rayburn is also studying to become a Sign Language Interpreter through night classes at SWIC’s Interpreter Training Program.
“I hope to become a certified interpreter in the state of Illinois and Missouri, and ultimately have dreams of starting a dance program that specifically caters towards the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.”
Rayburn has certainly given new meaning to the term ‘time management’.
“It’s tough to balance – and at times, I’m not always successful. I just try to compartmentalize my work throughout each day, and I really utilize my weekends for homework, practicum hours, and personal catch-up time. It helps knowing that this chaos is not forever. I have goals to meet and looking to the future is always comforting!”
D7, Lincoln School Alumni Foundation Partner to Assist Students Who Have Been Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic
District #7 Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Student Services Dr. Cornelia Smith, announced during Monday’s Board of Education meeting the creation of the iMpact program with the Historic Lincoln School Alumni Foundation (LSAF), as a result of two generous donations. The iMpact program is designed to support District #7 students who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
A donation of $25,000 from the Mannie Jackson Foundation was received in 2021 to identify and design a series of supports for students and families who were impacted by the pandemic. LSAF was also notified of a local donation of $2,400 from Kim Goodner, owner of Artisan Bakery in Edwardsville, to support this effort.
As a result of those donations, iMpact was developed to provide a safety net for students and families. Three areas of main support were identified including academic support for students starting for preparing to enter high school, social emotional support for students experiencing anxiety from pandemic related issues and support for families who were financially impacted by the pandemic and may no longer be able to provide costs related to extracurricular activities, such as band, fine arts or athletics.
Dr. Smith recognized Herman Shaw, president of the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation, and other foundation members at the board meeting for their continued partnership and support of District #7 students.
District #7 Announces Young Authors Winners
Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 has announced its Young Authors winners for the 2021-22 school year.
Each spring the Madison County Regional Office of Education recognizes Young Authors winners in grades K-8 from Madison County schools at a county-wide event. Students have the opportunity to share their books with each other, participate in reading/writing centric activities and be entertained by a local author, storyteller or performer.
The 31st annual Madison County Young Authors Conference will be held on Saturday, April 30, 2022, at Edwardsville High School.
Hannah Heimos, kindergarten
Ashton Eastman, 1st grade
Ava Albrecht, 2nd grade
Clara Mullikin, kindergarten
Lindley Weiss, 1st grade
Brooklyn Stewart, 2nd grade
Callie Thompson, 2nd grade
Alisa Zhao, 1st grade
Jamison Pontious, kindergarten
Averi Henschen, 2nd grade
Eleanor Helmers, 2nd grade
Vera Boutelle, 1st grade
Emma Cochran, 2nd grade
Charlotte Catlin, 1st grade
Mason Coleman, 2nd grade
MarLee Epps-Barnes, kindergarten
Madison McLeland, 4th grade
Abigail Yarger, 3rd grade
Phillip Weiss, 5th grade
Emily Wonders, 5th grade
Eden Bishopp, 4th grade
Finn Smith, 4th grade
Naomi Gregory, 5th grade
Eva Lee, 3rd grade
Julianne Daniels, 5th grade
Elliott Zuercher, 3rd grade
Edyn Cohn, 5th grade
Emma Nativi, 4th grade
Gemma Stumpf, 3rd grade
Austin Ferrari, 5th grade
Willa Helmers, 4th grade
Musa Quaizar, 7th grade
Drake Schultz, 8th grade
Olivia Sayuk, 8th grade
Liv Warner, 8th grade
Emily Raymer, 7th grade
Shawn Wonders, 7th grade
Mark Hill, 7th grade
Grant Peterson, 8th grade
Savannah Jackson, 8th grade
Allie Chong, 8th grade
Sophia Uder, 8th grade
John Kohoutek, 8th grade
Eshaal Nadeem, 6th grade
Gabrielle White, 8th grade
Dori Kelly, 7th grade
Maya Hatch, 8th grade