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.” 

Summer Enrichment Opportunities

Summer Enrichment opportunities are back!

See the attached flyers for exciting summer opportunities for students in grades K-8.

K-2 Art (K-2nd grade students only) 

3-5 Art (3rd-5th grade students only)

Middle School Art (6th-8th grade students only) 

STEMscopes (3rd-8th grade students only) 

Links to sign up for summer courses are in the PDFs.

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.

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 


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.