Retired teachers ‘feed the flame’ of education with scholarships

Shannon CareyUncategorized

Members of the Knox County Retired Teachers Association gathered at the Foundry Nov. 16, for a luncheon that has become their biggest event of the year: the presentation of scholarships funded by and in memory of association members.

Scholarship committee co-chair Dr. Mary Lou Kanipe said the scholarships are for students seeking teacher licensure who “must have a passion for teaching and demonstrate a financial need.”

Unlike other scholarships, which give funds directly to the school in which the student is enrolled, the Knox County Retired Teachers scholarships put funds directly into the hands of students to use however they choose. Kanipe recalled one of the first recipients, a teaching student from Walland whose internship location was Brickey Elementary School. The student used the scholarship to replace the tires on her car so she could get to her internship location.

The association gave six $1,000 scholarships this year. Recipients were:

  • Robin Byard, a UT Knoxville student in the midst of graduate school and her teaching internship. She plans to teach elementary school and has wanted to teach since she was a child. She has worked her way through undergraduate studies with work-study jobs and volunteers at the A.L. Lotts afterschool program and at Lenior City Elementary School as a reading tutor.
  • Kendra Edgell, a student at ETSU studying to be a middle school teacher. She said she was pigeonholed as an “average learner” in middle school, and later teacher mentors pushed her to excel. She and her husband are both full-time students and have a 3-year-old daughter.
  • Sarah Jones, a UT student who plans to go into special education. She is interning at Rockford Elementary School and Heritage Middle School and volunteers for Camp Ability, a daycamp for young people with special needs. She has also traveled to Africa as part of Circle of Sisterhood and served on a fundraising committee for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
  • Byjan Kajaei, a student at Maryville College majoring in English as a second language education with a Japanese language minor. She is a first-generation college student with a refugee background. She chose to go into education because language tutors made such a difference in her parents’ lives when they came to America.
  • Hannah Reddick, a senior at UT Knoxville, who plans to teach elementary school music. She received the Carrie Moudy Huber Scholarship, funded by West Hills Elementary School retirees in memory of a teacher who passed away last May with leukemia. “The honor of being chosen for this scholarship is not lost on me,” she said.
  • David Woods, a UT Knoxville music education major and a member of the Pride of the Southland Marching Band. He plays clarinet and tuba and was inspired to go into music education by his band director at Bearden High School.

Association president Jeanette Casteel praised the scholarship committee and the recipients, saying, “I truly believe that with future educators such as these, public education is in good hands.”

Casteel added that every teacher lives to see “the light go on” in students’ eyes.

“You’re not going into education because of the money involved,” she said. “You’re going into education to see that flame flicker and grow a little brighter.”


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