Education

As local principal ends career, successor returns to where he started his

Fifth-grader explains coding to school board members

Gabe Taylor, a fifth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School, tells the Belleville District 118 School Board members what coding is. He's one of many elementary students involved in Roosevelt's new club: Code Crafters. They use the free website code
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Gabe Taylor, a fifth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School, tells the Belleville District 118 School Board members what coding is. He's one of many elementary students involved in Roosevelt's new club: Code Crafters. They use the free website code

Douglas School’s principal is on her way to retirement after more than two decades in Belleville District 118.

Teresa Case will leave at the end of the 2016-17 school year. Superintendent Matt Klosterman said he has mixed emotions as her last day, June 30, approaches.

“In addition to being a colleague, she’s become a good friend to me personally,” Klosterman said. “... She’s just a genuinely nice person and (has) been a great educator.”

Klosterman said Case — who was Teresa Blomenkamp before her recent marriage — started her teaching career at Douglas during the 1991-92 school year.

She moved on to a position as principal at Henry Raab and Washington schools in the 1999-00 school year, but returned to Douglas a few years later. Case started her role as principal at Douglas in the 2002-03 school year.

Case’s recently-appointed replacement also started his career in District 118 at Douglas.

The District 118 School Board voted Tuesday night to have Geoff Schwalenberg start as Douglas School’s new principal on July 1. He’s currently the principal at Westhaven School.

Schwalenberg taught for six years at Douglas starting in the 2000-01 school year, according to Klosterman. Before serving as Westhaven’s principal, Schwalenberg was also dean of students at West Junior High School.

Now, the district will have to find a new principal at Westhaven School.

“We’ll start internally, see if we have a candidate,” Klosterman said. “Hopefully, by the February meeting, we’re in a position to appoint that person.”

What is coding?

Some students from Roosevelt School visited the school board at its Tuesday night meeting to explain what coding is. They are members of Roosevelt’s new club: Code Crafters.

Fifth-grader Gabe Taylor told the board members that coding is “the numbers one and zero combined to create something that the computer can understand.” It’s like a recipe, he explained.

“If you’re baking a cake, then you have to tell the computer to break open the egg, drop the two egg shells and make sure that the contents of the egg go into the bowl,” Gabe said, “or it might just crack the egg, throw it in there — the egg shells are all splattered over there — and you wouldn’t get a very good cake.”

The coding club started in December and will continue to meet until March 2, according to Roosevelt teacher Mischele Wilson. She works with the fifth- and sixth-grade students in the club. There’s another group of third- and fourth-grade students working with another teacher.

Wilson said they’re using the free website code.org to teach the students.

“It’s where the jobs of the future are going to be,” she said.

District signs agreements

In other business, the school board approved a new agreement with Chicago’s Kendall College school of education. Klosterman said the agreement will give a Kendall student from Belleville one of her first experiences in a school building in District 118.

An agreement with the St. Clair County Health Department was also approved by the school board Tuesday. Klosterman said this agreement is a continuation of existing services offered to district families with infants and children up to the age of 5.

Services for newborns through 3-year-olds are homebound and those for 3- through 5-year-olds are school based. Klosterman said district staff, who are paid through a grant, work with parents to make sure the children are reaching appropriate developmental milestones, among other duties.

The school board meets next at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at 105 West A St. in Belleville.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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