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Former school teacher honors parents and supports future teachers with scholarship

alexander_scholars_t.jpgBOONE—A daughter’s love for her parents and an appreciation for the sacrifices they made to send their children to college has resulted in a scholarship for prospective teachers attending Appalachian State University.

The first recipients of the Bob and Thelma Alexander Scholarship will enroll this fall at Appalachian.

They are Stephanie Richardson from Ashe County, Seth Mull from Alexander County, Erin Butler from Burke County, and Ashley Calloway and Shelby Barrier, both from Avery County.

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Five incoming freshmen at Appalachian State University have each received a four-year, $20,000 Bob and Thelma Alexander Scholarship. They are Erin Butler, left, from Burke County, Ashley Calloway from Avery County, Shelby Barrier from Avery County, Seth Mull from Alexander County and Stephanie Richardson from Ashe County. The scholarship supports students planning to become teachers. (Appalachian photo by University Photographer Marie Freeman)

Each has been awarded a four-year, $20,000 scholarship.

The scholarship donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, graduated from Appalachian and taught for four years before leaving the profession to raise her children.

“One of the reasons this scholarship exists is not because of me, but because of my parents,” she said. The donor’s father was a truck driver who would leave home at 3:30 a.m. to go to work, and when he returned home would work in the family garden during the summer to ensure his family had food to eat. Like many people who grew up during the Depression, the donor’s parents were thrifty and saved to make sure their three children could go to college.

Richardson and Butler plan to major in elementary education. Barrier hopes to become a math teacher. Mull plans to become a physical education teacher and Callaway plans a career as a middle grade teacher.

“I see the importance of good teachers and have always believed that if we spend money on education, we will spend less money addressing society’s problems. The more people we educate, the better off we are as a society,” the donor said.

The Alexander Scholarship program is modeled after the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program in which recipients pay back the scholarship by teaching for four years in a N.C. school. Each of the scholarship recipients had applied for the 2009 N.C. Teaching Fellows Scholarship and passed local screening but were placed on a waiting list for the highly competitive scholarship program.

“We are excited at the prospect of attracting more worthy candidates into teaching through the Alexander Scholarship Program,” said Dr. Charles R. Duke, dean of Appalachian’s Reich College of Education. “We think the payback feature of the scholarship through teaching is an ideal investment in both the future of the scholarship recipients and those whom they come to teach.”