August 26, 2014

District 118 honors teachers; establishes Mary McHugh award

Belleville School District 118 recognized three individuals with Bill Porzukowiak Character Awards named after a former district leader who was instrumental in implementing the district's Character Education program.

This year's recipients were: Donna Griffin, First Student Bus Company; Gloria Cotton, kindergarten teacher at Jefferson School; and Pat Wright, administrative assistant at Westhaven School.

The awards were presented during an all-staff meeting Aug. 14 at Central Junior High School in Belleville.

District 118 administrators and the teachers' union collaborated to establish the Mary McHugh Excellence in Teaching Award to be given to one teacher a year who exemplifies all of the things that McHugh represented, according to Superintendent Matt Klosterman.

McHugh, 83, died in July after a short battle with liver cancer. She taught more than 40 years at Franklin Elementary School.

Klosterman said the Mary McHugh Excellence in Teaching Award will be presented for the first time next year.


Schools in the metro-east are taking the plunge and participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge, where buckets of ice water are dumped on willing individuals all in an effort to raise money for the ALS Association. The challenge is a viral Internet phenomenon to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Principal Lisa Buchheit at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Waterloo and Father Osang Idagbo took the challenge Friday. Buchheit was challenged by Blessed Sacrament Principal Claire Hatch, and she in turn challenged Idagbo.

Students at Estelle Sauget Cahokia School of Choice challenged Principal Gustavo Cotto and Gabrielle Schwemmer, assistant director of curriculum and instruction for Cahokia District 187.

Staff at Douglas Elementary School in Belleville also participated in the challenge last week.


The education committee of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce donated 160 backpacks full of school supplies to the Ferguson-Florissant School District.

Belleville School District 118 Superintendent Matt Klosterman said he and a district employee delivered the backpacks last week to school officials.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District began classes Monday, after a delay due to the unrest.


Collinsville High School Senior Sam Caputo has been elected to the Federal Reserve of St. Louis 2014-2015 Student Board of Directors. This is the third year for the program, and the second time Collinsville High School has had representation on the 14-member board.

The students discuss issues related to economics and personal finance, listen to speakers on topics ranging from leadership development to career planning and progression, and compete for several internships in various departments of the Federal Reserve of St. Louis. Students also participate in online courses related to the economy.


The community and families of Breese School District 12 and the Beckemeyer firefighters will have a fundraiser Sept. 6 at the Beckemeyer Community Development Club Park on Murray Street for Greg Ratermann, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor this June.

The event will include a kickball tourney, tractor pull, inflatables, food and music. Donations are being accepted at the Germantown Trust and Savings Bank. Proceeds from the event will go to the Ratermann family and the Beckemeyer Fire Department. For more information, email teacher Sandy Jansen at


The Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation is making $15,000 in grant money available to 45 counties in Illinois. This grant will provide additional funds to public school educators so students will have the means to participate in special projects. To download the application, visit the IRTA website at

Applicants should complete the grant proposal by describing their needs for the grant, telling how they will use it and explaining the difference their project will make in the students' lives. Applications should be submitted by mail to the IRTA Foundation, 620 N. Walnut St., Springfield, IL 62702. All proposals must be postmarked by Sept. 5. A special committee will select the grant recipients in October. For more information, call Tricia Klim at 800-728-4782.


Valmeyer native Chad Phillips spent two months this summer interning for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, working behind the scenes in the senator's Capitol Hill office. Each year, close to 50 interns work in Durbin's Washington, D.C., office. Interns process constituent requests, help with legislative duties and lead Capitol tours for Illinois residents visiting Washington. During that time, they gain firsthand knowledge of the legislative process, learn about the inner-workings of the federal government and develop valuable research skills.

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 618-239-2562. Follow her on Twitter at @BND_JForsythe.

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