Ameren employees tutor students at Belleville grade school

News-DemocratMay 13, 2014 

— Ellis Elementary School third-grader J'Mya Lee, 9, was having trouble with her spelling, math and reading.

Ameren Illinois volunteers stepped in to tutor J'Mya and other students as part of the school's tutoring program where community members provide extra support to children who need it.

"It helped me a lot. I started to get A's," J'Mya said. "I could read better and spell all of my words better."

Third-grader Mackenzie Geminn, 9, said the tutoring has helped her as well.

"We had a math test and the last time I didn't do so good," Mackenzie said. "With the tutoring, I got an A."

Ameren Community Relations Coordinator Paula Nixon said the program has not only benefited the children but the Ameren employees as well.

This school year, Ameren volunteers tutored students at Ellis Elementary every Tuesday. In all, 11 Ameren employees -- who went through appropriate background checks -- worked with the students, with a handful coming to the school every week.

Ameren employee Steve Wahn of Waterloo said he jumped at the opportunity to support the community that Ameren serves.

"It feels really good to help out the kids," Wahn said.

He especially enjoyed helping Ellis fourth-grader Myzel Drummond.

"It was a joy working with him," Wahn said. "He was a lot of fun to be with."

Ameren Division Director George Justice made it possible for Ameren employees to volunteer at the school, Nixon said.

"We have a long standing tradition of getting involved in our community," Justice said.

Retired teacher Nancy Beasley, who coordinates the tutoring program, said the addition of the Ameren employees this year allowed students to have one-on-one time with tutors on Tuesday. Previously, a community volunteer tutor may have worked with two or three students at the same time.

"It's a great opportunity for the boys and girls," Beasley said. "It gives them some extra one-on-one help that they may not ordinarily have."

Nixon said Ameren employees will also volunteer at the school during the summer enrichment program and plan to tutor students again next school year.

Ameren also donated supplies to Ellis Elementary's tutoring program, according to Principal David Deets.

"It's been a really nice partnership," he said. "It's allowed us to serve more kids and do more one-on-one tutoring."

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Top students from O'Fallon High School will compete against Centralia High School in the second round of semifinals on the next episode of Scholastic Hi-Q, WSIU Public Television's quiz show featuring regional high school scholar bowl teams.

The half-hour episode will air on WSIU-TV 8 and WUSI-TV 16, the public television stations of Southern Illinois University Carbondale at 5 p.m. on Sunday. A repeat is scheduled to air at 9:30 a.m. May 25.

Produced by SIU students and hosted by Robert Thies, a junior from Ava, Scholastic Hi-Q is a competitive game show series featuring scholar bowl teams from over 30 area high schools. Team members answer questions from a variety of disciplines, including art, geography, history, literature, math, music and science. The winning school of each game advances to subsequent rounds until they are either eliminated by another team, or until they advance to the championship match.

Learn more about the show online at wsiu.org/hiq and facebook.com/scholastichiq.

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Harmony-Emge School District 175 has an opening on the school board.

District residents interested in serving on the board can submit a resume to the board office by Friday, May 30 at 7401 Westchester Dr., Belleville, IL 62223.

For more information, contact Superintendent Pam Leonard at 618-397-8444, ext. 1.

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Approximately 70 students and 100 parents attended a technology night at Central Junior High in Belleville May 1.

Participants rotated through seven stations where students led presentations about the technology that is being used in the classrooms.

Some of the stations included students showing their parents presentations created in class, useful educational websites, iPad books and student-led announcements.

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East St. Louis School District 189 is now accepting applications for new students enrolling in the preschool program for August 2014.

Preschool summer screening will be held June 30-July 14. Registration packets are available at Vivian Adams Early Childhood Center, 501 Katherine Dunham, East St. Louis, Ill. 62201.

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The following students from the Collinsville Unit 10 School District received scholarships through the John A. Renfro Scholarship Fund to attend educational-based summer camps: Shayma Al-Jaff, Savannah Bogus, Cheyenne Buneta, Kayleen Deeringer, Gus Dorman, Ivy Horton, Kelsie Jeffries, Ryan Kremer, Karleigh Picchioldi, Katie Reaka and Chatoria Watson.

Renfro served as the superintendent of schools for Collinsville Unit 10 School District for 21 years. Following his death in 1996, Renfro's wife, Mary, established the scholarship fund in his honor.

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High Mount School District 116 is in the process of installing high efficiency LED Lighting to replace the current external lighting.

The foyer lighting and gym lighting is also being replaced. These lighting upgrades are being paid for by a $18,500 State of Illinois Maintenance Grant as well as $11,000 in energy efficiency incentives from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Superintendent Mark Halwachs said this project will save money on the district's monthly electric bill. He thanked Ameren Corporation for donating two lift trucks for the completion of the parking lot lighting.

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Hosick Motors Inc. in Vandalia helped raise $2,020 in funding for Vandalia Elementary School with Chrysler brand's Drive for the Kids program.

The fundraising event was held last month. Participants earned a $10 contribution to the school on their behalf from the Chrysler brand by taking a brief test drive.

At the conclusion of 2014 program, the school with the highest number of test drives in each one of the five geographic regions -- Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, Central and West -- will win an additional $5,000, for a total of $25,000 in additional funding from Chrysler through the Drive for the Kids program.

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 education@bnd.com or call 618-239-2562. Follow her on Twitter at @BND_JForsythe.

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