Higher Education: McKendree professor recognized for theater work

Scott Wuerz
Scott Wuerz

A theater professor known for her creativity and dedication to McKendree University students has received a 2015 Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award.

Michelle Magnussen, associate professor of theatre, is among 102 St. Louis metropolitan area educators — from kindergarten teachers to college professors — who are examples of excellence in their field. Recipients of the annual award are chosen by their institutions’ chief administrators.

Magnussen has served as a full-time faculty member and director of theater at McKendree University since 2006. As part of Global Awareness Week on campus in March, she and her students wrote and performed an original piece called the McKendree “Share Your Story” Project.

In addition to her work in the classroom and on stage, she has also led a study abroad trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, and participated in a faculty-student trip to Technos College in Japan. Magnussen often takes students to theater productions in St. Louis so they can see on stage the techniques and acting skills they have learned in class.

She participates in the university’s “Teaching for Excellence” workshops each semester; coordinates the student performing arts activities for its annual Academic Excellence Celebration; and advises the campus chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the national honorary theater fraternity.

The Lebanon resident earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and theater from Carthage College.

In addition to Magnussen, other McKendree graduates or former students were among the St. Louis area educators who received 2015 Excellence in Teaching Awardees on Nov. 22:

▪  Rebecca (Chaput) Claxton of O’Fallon, a kindergarten teacher at Illini Elementary School in Fairview Heights

▪ Teri (Schmidt) Range, of O’Fallon, who teaches honors precalculus, trigonometry and advanced precalculus at O’Fallon Township High School

SWIC gets in the holiday spirit

Southwestern Illinois College will put on a show called “A Holiday Celebration” on Dec. 13.

The show, which is free to attend, will be held in the Mascoutah High School auditorium at 3 p.m.

The concert band will be directed by Ed Jacobs, the guitar ensemble by Travis Mattison and the concert and chamber choirs by Andrew Jensen with accompaniment by Gail Long. A few special surprises can be expected in the performance.

Visit the music department on Facebook at or check out their concert calendar at

SIUE offers affordable mental health care

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Attention and Behavior Clinic offers a community service by offering metro-east children psychological services at affordable rates.

Licensed clinical psychologists and SIUE graduate students in the Clinical Child and School Psychology program conduct comprehensive assessments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“We primarily provide services to children with current behavioral difficulties, including hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention,” said Gregory Everett, associate professor of psychology at SIUE. “In addition to being detailed and in-depth, our assessments provide families with recommendations regarding ways in which the findings could be used to help a child do better behaviorally in the home, or both behaviorally and academically in school.”

The Comprehensive Autism Spectrum Evaluation Site operates in the clinic from May through July. It provides thorough diagnostic assessments of children suspected of having ASD.

“There are many families in the metro-east who are interested in having a comprehensive evaluation of their child when they suspect he or she may have ASD,” said Elizabeth McKenney, assistant professor of psychology and CASE Site director. “What we know about children with ASD is that they obtain the most benefits from interventions and therapies if they receive a diagnosis early. Our optimal window for identifying and beginning to provide services to children with ASD is ages 2 through 8.”

The Attention and Behavior Clinic offers graduate students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a clinical setting.

For more information on services provided, call 618-650-2215 or visit