March 21, 2012

Drust is new director of Rainbow’s End

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Linda J. Drust, a longtime educator and administrator, is the new director of the Rainbow’s End Child Development Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  A double alumna of the University, she began her new position March 5.

“Linda brings almost 30 years of educational experience to the position.  As a lifelong educator, she started her career in the classroom and has moved to several administrative positions over the last 25 years.  We are fortunate to have found such a skilled administrator who brings a wealth of administrative experience and a demonstrated history of successful competitive grant writing to the position,” said Lori L. Stettler, assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary services. 

Drust said she is excited and honored to be involved in continuing the wonderful tradition of Rainbow’s End.

“Rainbow’s End Child Development Center is an exemplary learning environment for children.  Darlene Waier, the former director, did a marvelous job of leading the center to re-established accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  This is the highest ranking and seal of approval from an early childhood national accreditation organization and it means that Rainbow’s End meets stringent requirements for an early childhood learning environment,” Drust said. 

Drust said she has a number of goals for the University’s comprehensive child development program.  She would like to expand the summer program for school-age children and also increase services for families and young children.  In addition, she plans to develop a transition plan to prepare children for the move from the preschool classroom to kindergarten and seek additional revenue through grant writing, foundations and other resources. 

In the meantime, she said her goal is that the center continues to provide safe, high-quality childcare while meeting NAEYC standards with a positive work environment and meaningful professional development opportunities for employees.   In addition, Drust said she intends to lead the teaching staff in developing lesson plans and activities that encourage children in the development of literacy and social skills.

An Illinois Department of Children and Family Services-licensed facility, the center offers care for the children of students, faculty and staff from ages six weeks to 12 years.  Typical enrollment is about 100 although there are more children in the summer months.  The center employs about 40-45 staff.  

Drust, who is from Carterville, earned her master’s of science in educational administration in 1990 and her bachelor’s in elementary education with an educational media minor in 1982 at SIU Carbondale.  She has also finished work toward her superintendent certification at the University and in 1993 completed the Egyptian Educational Service Center #18 Gifted Institute. 

Hired in 2005 as the first director of PreK and Family Programs for the Williamson County Early Childhood Cooperative at the Carterville School District, Drust oversaw one of the largest such programs in the state with a budget of $2.2 million-$2.5 million.  During her tenure, the pre-k enrollment more than doubled and the families served by family programs more than tripled.  She also led development of a number of programs, including a teen parent program and a pre-k to kindergarten transition program and obtained various competitive grants. 

Her experience also includes serving as a principal, grant writer and Title I coordinator at Tri-C Elementary School and Crainville Grade School and as a principal and teacher at Cypress Elementary School.  She has also worked as an administrative intern, school librarian/media specialist and computer literacy teacher in the Carterville Junior High School and as a children’s and extension services consultant for the Shawnee Library System in Carterville.  In addition, Drust has been active in a number of professional activities and organizations within her field and the state.