signing of MOU

SIU Chancellor Austin Lane (seated, left) and Carbondale Elementary School District No. 95 Superintendent Daniel Booth (seated, right) sign a memorandum of agreement that provides additional educational and mentoring opportunities for students in the district as representatives of SIU and District 95 look on. (Photo by Russell Bailey)


May 06, 2021

SIU will provide educational opportunities for Carbondale elementary, junior high students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — An agreement between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Carbondale Elementary School District No. 95 will provide mentoring and educational opportunities, summer camps and collaboration between the university and the 1,500-student district.

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane and Daniel L. Booth, Carbondale Elementary School District No. 95 superintendent, today (May 6) signed a memorandum of agreement during an event at Carbondale Middle School.

“This partnership demonstrates how students in our own neighborhood are welcome and wanted at SIU,” Lane said. “The early exposure to our university, and community service from various SIU student groups that are assisting us, is key to our success. We are committed to planting the SIU seed early and engaging often with our local elementary and middle school students in District No. 95.

“We’re excited about the opportunity for local elementary and middle school students to learn more about the first-rate university education they can get in their own backyard.”

Other SIU representatives included Meera Komarraju, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Lori Stettler, vice chancellor for student affairs; Amanda Sutton, director of admissions; Jen Phillips, associate director, admissions recruitment; Todd S. Bryson, associate chancellor for diversity; M Cecil Smith, dean, School of Education; Jyotsna Kapur, University Honors Program director; LaShonda Stewart, Chancellor Scholarship program director; Marc Morris, director and associate professor, School of Accountancy, and Sarah Marbes, coordinator, Center for Service-Learning and Volunteerism. Joining the ceremony from Carbondale was Booth; Rachel Lathrop, Carbondale Middle School principal, school board President Catherine Field, Vice President John Major, Secretary Angela Waters and board members Markida Roper and Erin Connelly. Students from the university and the district also attended.

Agreement contains several features

Carbondale Elementary School District No. 95 comprises Carbondale Middle School, Lewis School, Parrish Elementary School and Thomas School. The agreement with SIU is similar to those with Girls Inc. of St. Louis and the East St. Louis school district.

The agreement involving students in the Carbondale district includes:

  • SIU will provide virtual or in-person educational and mentoring opportunities for Carbondale district elementary students in any academic areas of interest.
  • School district students will have opportunities to attend summer camps on campus.
  • The chancellor will meet with and speak to students and parents about SIU.
  • An admissions coordinator will also speak in person or virtually to students and their families regarding SIU admissions.
  • Students in third through eighth grade will participate in on-campus opportunities such as shadowing SIU students, attending classes as guests and touring the campus.
  • Student leaders and administrators at SIU will have opportunities to speak in person or virtually to school district members.
  • The school district will allow virtual or in-person visits with seventh- and eighth-graders one to three times a year.

A two-degree SIU Carbondale graduate, Booth earned a bachelor’s degree in health education and his master’s degree in educational administration, and he is working on his doctorate in educational administration. Booth will return to Carbondale Community High School in July and begin duties as superintendent there.

Agreement is ‘pivotal’ for students, community

Booth noted that the university is “the cornerstone of our community” and exposing students to SIU will be “pivotal for the future of our students as well as our town.”

“This partnership will be great for both organizations, and I believe that each of us will equally gain from working together in this capacity,” he said. “Our students look up to SIU students, and it will be important for our educators to lean on the researchers and professors at SIU as we continue to work to serve our students in the coming years.”

The agreement will extend to pre-kindergarten and lower grades where SIU students come in and read to or tutor children, Booth said. Elementary students will have access to engage with the university regardless of grade level. For older students, that can mean coming to campus to interact with professors and researchers.

“Exposure is key to helping students to dream,” Booth explained. “Many students can’t imagine what they can't see or feel. This partnership will help elementary-aged students to learn about different majors and careers and learn firsthand from college students about what it takes to be successful when pursuing their degrees. This sort of discourse not only helps students to learn what they want to do in life, but equally as important, what they don’t want to do.

“As we continue to work with SIU, we look forward to also giving our students opportunities to have on-campus experiences that will help them to learn more about what the campus has to offer and a chance to truly learn about their passions for learning.”