Education Matters: Dozens take a drive to earn money for Mascoutah school

Belle Valley School in Belleville welcomes aliens and others at the freshly opened observatory for the school year. To get to the observatory, drive to behind the school and turn left onto Alien Avenue, and climb the hill to Area 51, says Superintendent Lou Obernuerfemann.
Belle Valley School in Belleville welcomes aliens and others at the freshly opened observatory for the school year. To get to the observatory, drive to behind the school and turn left onto Alien Avenue, and climb the hill to Area 51, says Superintendent Lou Obernuerfemann. Provided photo

Mascoutah Elementary School earned $620 through a “Drive for the Kids” event during the fall festival last month. Brent Bergheger Chrysler Dodge in Mascoutah contributed $10 to the school for every test drive taken in a 2015 Town & Country, Chrysler 200, or Chrysler 300 vehicle during the event.

Chrysler says the “Drive for the Kids” program has given more than $6 million directly to local schools since 1993, providing money for playgrounds, reading programs and more. For more information, go to

Governor French latest recipient of free computers

Governor French Academy in Belleville is the latest metro-east school to receive working computers from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the hospital reports.

This school year, St. Elizabeth’s gave 31 computers and 20 monitors to Governor French. In the past two years, a hospital spokeswoman says, it has donated more than 235 computers and laptops to area schools and education organizations, including Belleville Public School Foundation, Shiloh Village School District 85, Althoff Catholic High School, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois and the Diocese of Belleville. Total fair market value for all donations totals over $25,000; the donation to Governor French had a fair market value of more than $4,000, the hospital said.

The hospital’s IT manager says equipment is replaced about every three years to keep the hospital current; the hard drives are emptied of any hospital or patient-related information to stay in compliance with patient privacy regulations, Leslee Martin said.

Win an iPad in photo contest

Entries are being accepted for the Red Ribbon Week Photo Contest; winners will take $20,000 to schools across the country. The contest is co-sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Family Partnership.

To enter, decorate a home’s front door, mailbox or fence or a visible spot on the school campus with the double-looped red ribbon and the “Respect Yourself. Be Drug Free” theme. Someone 18 years or older must upload a photo of the decoration to by Nov. 3. Submissions will be voted on by the public from Nov. 4 to Nov. 18; winners will be announced Dec. 4.

The country is divided into 10 regions; each region will have 10 family and 10 school winners; each winner gets an iPad for the family or the school employee who entered and $1,000 to be used toward drug prevention at school.

Althoff’s new hire

Althoff Catholic High School has hired Ali Willoughby as director of recruitment and enrollment. Willoughby was previously in admissions and academic advising at McKendree University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Art contest

Illinois American Water and the Value of Water Coalition are teaming up to ask some grade-school children to “Imagine a Day Without Water” art contest. Winning artwork will be featured in a water bill insert and earn the student’s classroom a $100 donation.

The contest is open to third, fourth and fifth grades, who should draw a picture and write one sentence about water service and what a day without water means to him or her. Group projects are also welcome. Send entries by Oct. 27 to External Affairs Manager, Karen Cotton, at 7500 North Harker Drive, Peoria, Illinois 61615; email questions to

Find out more about the contest at and

Those Who Excel banquet

Educators will be honored at the 40th Annual Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year banquet in Normal on Oct. 17. The 250 nominated educators includes the 10 Teacher of the Year finalists, one of whom will be named the top Illinois educator for 2015-16. Teachers in the metro-east are:

▪  Madison County: Jordan Anderson, Alton District 11; Grace Bannon, Edwardsville District 7; Jim Bladdick, Granite City District 9; Lisa Bohnenstiehl, Edwardsville District 7; Jacob Carlson, Bethalto District 8; Sonja Collins-Fordson, Alton District 11; Patrick Curry, Granite City District 9; Meghan Daily, Granite City District 9; Edwardsville High School National Honor Society (team), Edwardsville District 7; Susan Hatfield, Alton District 11; Debra Hoefert, Alton District 11; Instructional Coaches (team), Bethalto District 8; May Carousel Steering Committee, Granite City District 9; Deana McDonough, Bethalto District 8; Marla Miller, Granite City District 9; Nathan Rushing, Granite City District 9; Valerie Smith, Bethalto District 8; Kenneth Spells, Alton District 11; Lawrence Stemmley, Bethalto District 8; Natalie Thiems, Edwardsville District 7; Craig Welch, Bethalto District 8; Mallory Welch, Bethalto District 8; West Title 1 Intervention Team, Alton District 11.

▪  Monroe County: Bridget Macias, Alton District 11; Jennifer Moehrs, Waterloo District 5.

▪  St. Clair: Rebecca Merrill, O’Fallon District 203; Olivia Sanders, Brooklyn District 188; Tiffany Truran-Lugge, O’Fallon District 203; Martha Jane Weld, O’Fallon District 203

Fees eliminated on Illinois 529 plan

Bright Directions, the college savings 529 plan from Illinois, is eliminating set up and maintenance fees and also cutting management fees. Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced the change last week. Previously, the Illinois’ Bright Directions 529 plan had a $10 set-up fee and $3 quarterly maintenance fee. Management fees will also be cut by 43 percent, the treasurer’s office said.

The new terms take effect Nov. 15.

Frerichs’ office also manages the Bright Start Advisor and Bright Start Direct college savings programs, which allows saving for higher education without paying taxes on earnings. Earnings can be spent on qualified expenses at eligible educational institutions, including public and private schools, two-year and four-year colleges and universities, and certain technical and vocational schools. The treasurer’s office says more than 400,000 residents hold a Bright Directions or Bright Start account.