First class of students graduate from Lindenwood’s Belleville campus

This story was originally published in the News-Democrat on May 14, 2004. It is being rerun in the wake of news that daytime programs at the Belleville, Illinois, campus will be moved to the St. Charles, MO, campus starting with the 2020-2021 academic year:

Math was Lacey Cameron’s hardest subject in sixth grade, but it helped to have a math teacher who was interesting and patient.

More than 15 years later, Lacey has become friends with the teacher, Karen Keuss. Both are members of Lindenwood University’s first graduating class from the Belleville campus.

“We’ve gotten to know each other as peers, as fellow professionals, as equals,” Keuss said. “It’s been fun.”

Keuss, 56, of Belleville is a fourth-grade teacher at Whiteside Elementary School. Cameron, 27, of Belleville is an English teacher at New Athens High School.

Keuss, Cameron and about 12 other students from Lindenwood’s Belleville campus will receive master of art degrees in education tonight. The ceremony will be held on the main campus in St. Charles, Mo.

“Lindenwood has been very accommodating and user-friendly,” said Keuss, noting classes met from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. weeknights. “They listened to us and tried to meet our needs.”

Lindenwood bought the old Belleville Township High School West building last year. It has 26 other satellite campuses in the region.

Lindenwood started in Belleville by offering a 33-credit graduate program in education. About 20 students enrolled in January 2003. More than half will graduate tonight.

“The (education) program is significantly larger now,” said Bob Kelsheimer, operations manager of the Belleville campus. “We probably have 150 teachers enrolled.”

Lindenwood also has expanded to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration, human resource management and communications.

Keuss earned a bachelor’s degree in 1969 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her first job was teaching home economics at Cahokia High School.

Keuss later earned an elementary teaching certificate and took graduate courses at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Carbondale. Lindenwood’s opening in Belleville was the push she needed to finish her master’s.

“It had been a lifelong goal,” Keuss said. “And this seemed like the perfect opportunity because (the program) was right here in my own back yard.”

Cameron earned a bachelor’s degree at McKendree College in Lebanon in 1999. She taught English at Dupo High School for four years before going to New Athens.

Cameron began working on her master’s partly because of encouragement from her brother, Troy Siade, who died last month at age 38. She eventually wants to go into school administration.

Cameron took graduate classes at SIUE before transferring nine credits to Lindenwood and completing her degree in Belleville.

“It was geographically a lot more desirable than SIUE,” Cameron said. “It was just a few miles away as opposed to driving almost an hour there and an hour back from Edwardsville.”