Education

She didn’t start out as a teacher, but now she is one of the best

Swansea Rotarians present a grant check to High Mount School for the High Mount School Community Garden. From left to right, Swansea Rotary President Ruth Ann Erdmann; Swansea Rotary Grant Chair Jim Riess; High Mount School Superintendent Mark Halwachs; High Mount School Art Teacher Emily Pokojski; and several High Mount School students.
Swansea Rotarians present a grant check to High Mount School for the High Mount School Community Garden. From left to right, Swansea Rotary President Ruth Ann Erdmann; Swansea Rotary Grant Chair Jim Riess; High Mount School Superintendent Mark Halwachs; High Mount School Art Teacher Emily Pokojski; and several High Mount School students.

A Granite City teacher will be recognized with a 2016 Illinois STEM Educator Award at a conference next month.

Carrie Wilson Herndon, a teacher at Metro East Montessori School in Granite City, was one of two winners of the award. The other winner was Jennifer Smith, a teacher at Monticello Middle School in Monticello.

This newly created award recognizes the extraordinary achievements in K-8 STEM teaching in Illinois. STEM is short for science, technology, engineering and math.

Herndon, a former chemist turned teacher, uses the innate curiosity of her students to develop engaging STEM lessons. The awards committee was impressed that Herndon creates learning environments where students are empowered to pose questions, develops investigations, and designs solutions to address issues that they identify. In addition, Herndon demonstrated extraordinary accomplishments in STEM education with the creation of the Farm Maker STEM Program at her school.

The winners will be recognized at a luncheon as part of the joint Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics/Illinois Science Teachers Association 2016 Annual Conference being held in Peoria. Each winner also receives: $1,000 check, $1,500 ETA hand2mind gift card, complimentary registration to the Illinois Math and Science Education Conference, and complimentary one-year registration to ISTA or ICTM.

School recognized for community outreach

Darin Loepker, principal at High Mount School in Swansea, and the Rotary Club recently earned the “Reaching Out and Building Bridges Award” from the Southwestern Region of Illinois Principal’s Association for the School Break Food Program.

More than 70 percent of High Mount students participate in the free or reduced lunch program. For some students, the only meal they get may be during the school day.

The School Break Food Program was developed to help these students. During the 2014 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the Rotary Club of Swansea bought food and put it in large boxes for about 40 students. The boxes were then delivered to High Mount and the school gave them to families of students in need. There was a large box of food at Thanksgiving and large boxes delivered twice during Christmas holiday.

For the 2015 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the Rotary Club of Swansea continued the program, serving about 110 students at High Mount and added Wolf Branch School, serving about 20 students, providing large boxes of food on three occasions.

The Rotary Club of Swansea plans to continue the program this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas for both schools.

High Mount community garden

Each year the Rotary Club of Swansea submits an application for a Rotary District 6510 Matching Grant. The grant for 2016-17 was the High Mount School Community Garden.

The idea began as a dream for art teacher Emily Pokojski and came to fruition with money from the matching grant and the organizing of other money, volunteers and supplies.

The garden started out with 10 beds that were rented out and planted for this past growing season. This fall, the plan is to add about 10 more beds that will be available to rent next season.

Bring your grandparents to school day

Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Waterloo invited grandparents to visit the school to receive a blessing during a special Mass and take a tour of its classrooms led by the students.

Students wrote stories and poems about grandparents and created crafts for Grandparents’ Day on Sept. 13.

Sock it to Cancer campaign

During September, students at St. John Neumann donate their change to help children with cancer through the Sock it to Cancer campaign. This service project is close to everyone’s heart as it honors one of the school’s graduates, Kellsie Marchbanks.

Kellsie founded Kellsie’s Hope during her second round of cancer treatment. After her passing in June 2011 of Osteosarcoma, the Marchbanks family officially formed the Kellsie’s Hope Foundation Inc. to celebrate her life and continue the work she started from her hospital bed.

The foundation’s mission is to lighten the load of families that have children suffering from cancer by offering support for trips, and gifts that might otherwise be unattainable to a child with cancer. They also raise money to support research into childhood cancers and to provide nursing scholarships each year.

Attention student artists

Illinois American Water is inviting third, fourth and fifth grade classrooms within the company’s service area to participate in an “Imagine a Day Without Water” art contest. Winning students will win their classroom a $100 donation. Artwork may also be featured in a future bill insert and other communication pieces.

Students are asked to draw a picture and write one sentence that describes what water service and a day without water means to them. Teachers can find instructions and materials online at www.illinoisamwater.com in the “Learning Center” area of the site.

All entries should be sent to External Affairs Manager, Karen Cotton, at 7500 North Harker Drive, Peoria, Illinois 61615 by Oct. 13. Questions can be directed to karen.cotton@amwater.com. Winners of the art contest will be announced in November.

Teachers can apply for classroom makeover

The College Football Playoff Foundation announced the launch of the Extra Yard Classroom Makeover Project sponsored by SSI Guardian, a subsidiary of School Specialty, Inc. Teachers across the country are encouraged to enter for a chance to win a classroom makeover.

The program provides furniture, new technology, storage components and more for classrooms. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 7 at www.cfp-foundation/classroom-makeover. Three winners will be chosen at random and announced once a week starting Nov. 7.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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