OfficeMax honors Belleville teacher with award

News-DemocratOctober 1, 2013 


Nina Marifian was in the middle of teaching her fourth-graders at Ellis Elementary in Belleville on Tuesday morning when she received an unexpected surprise. OfficeMax in Belleville selected Marifian as the recipient of this year's "A Day Made Better" award.

"I'm really overwhelmed with this award. There's a lot of deserving people at this school," Marifian said. "I love what I do every day. I feel fortunate that I can get up every morning and do the job I do. I'm really blessed."

Four OfficeMax employees and a half dozen of her students surprised Marifian with the award and $1,000 worth of prizes including a new office chair, a digital camera and a Kindle Fire.

"This is unbelievable," Marifian said as she opened two large boxes full of prizes, with her students gathered around her. "Look at all this stuff."

Marifian was nominated by Ellis Principal Dave Deets. "Nina comes to work every day with enthusiasm and a passion for teaching," Deets said. "She loves her kids. She loves what she does. She's fantastic at it."

Across the country, OfficeMax stores honored more than 1,000 teachers with awards Tuesday. The Fairview Heights OfficeMax honored Jacqueline Mitchell, a teacher at Webster Elementary in Collinsville. The OfficeMax in Wood River recognized Terri Harvey, a teacher at Lovejoy Elementary in Alton, and the Glen Carbon OfficeMax honored Kelly Stirnaman, a teacher at Renfro Elementary in Collinsville.


The Women Engineers at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is hosting an open house from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the School of Engineering Building. The open house allows prospective female students to learn more about the school. Students will attend sessions presented by the Offices of Admissions and Student Financial Aid, the Career Development Center and two engineering majors of their choice.

Separate panels of professional female engineers and current SIUE female students will be available for questions. For more information, visit


The Belleville East High School Class of 1993 is holding a 20-year reunion at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 at Stonewolf Golf Club in Fairview Heights. For more information and to buy tickets, visit


Mathnasium in O'Fallon is holding a TriMathlon contest on Saturday, Oct. 19. Children at all levels of math ability are invited to participate. In addition to winning trophies, all students who participate this year will earn money for local schools with every correct answer. The winner at each grade level will be entered into the national TriMathlon, with the chance to earn larger school donations.

The competition, open to second through fifth graders, will be held at the Mathnasium, 210 Hartman Lane, Suite 100, O'Fallon. Participation is free. The TriMathlon consists of three events: Magic Squares, where students are awarded points for developing their own math problems; The Counting Game, which tests students' ability to count from any number, to any number, by any number; and Mental Math Workout, which asks students to solve problems without a pencil and paper in order to show off their 'number sense.'

Prep materials, including a practice test, are available on the Mathnasium TriMathlon website, For more information, contact Greg Marston at Mathnasium at 618-624-6402.


St. Paul Lutheran School in Troy has been re-accredited by the National Lutheran School Accreditation. The school completed the accreditation process this past year with a site visit in April. The visiting team recommended accreditation, and the district accreditation team met in June and confirmed the recommendation to the National Commission. The National Accreditation Commission met July 31 to Aug. 1 and has given final approval for St. Paul to become an accredited school. This is the second cycle of accreditation for St. Paul and will run through 2018.


Jersey County native Alex Croxford placed 11th in the nation in the annual Trig-Star Math Contest. Alex placed first in the state, which qualified him to compete in the national exam. A Trig-Star is a mathematics student who has demonstrated in competition that he or she is the most skilled among classmates in the practical application of trigonometry. Alex is a senior at Jersey Community High School.


Congressman John Shimkus (R-Illinois) is accepting applications from men and women interested in attending one of the U.S. military academies. High school seniors, college students and anyone interested should apply now for summer 2014 admission.

To be eligible for appointment, a student must be a U.S. citizen; at least 17 and not more than 23 years of age on July 1, 2014; be unmarried; not be pregnant; have no dependents; and be a legal resident of the 15th Congressional District of Illinois. Average acceptable ACT scores are 24 in English/reading and 25 in math.

Applications are accepted for the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colo.; U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.; and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y.

Those seeking more information or who are interested in applying can contact Shimkus' office at 618-288-7190 for an application packet. Completed applications must be received by Nov. 5.

Do you have an item for Education Matters or an education-related story tip? We want to know about it. Send your ideas to Jamie Forsythe at or call 618-239-2562. Follow her on Twitter at

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