The biggest educator in the Southern Illinois region has partnered with an area school district to assist young students in becoming familiar with what’s in their backyard. Southern Illinois University Carbondale officials, called the partnership between Carbondale School District 95 and the university long overdue. Officials say they wanted to make sure they created a bridge from Carbondale District 95 directly to Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Southern Illinois University and Carbondale School District 95 have come together to create mentorships, educational opportunities and collaborations. District officials say it is important for students to start thinking about higher education at an early age and this partnership is a benefit to everyone. The Southern Illinois University students will visit elementary and middle school classrooms and those younger students in exchange will be visiting the university.