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Greensboro couple establish education scholarship at Appalachian

judystevejames_t.jpgBOONE—Education is the common theme running through the philanthropic activities of Judy and Steve James.

The Greensboro couple has established the Judy and Steve James Scholarship for Education to support Appalachian State University students pursuing a teaching career. They have also established an endowment for this scholarship through their estate plans.

The $20,000 scholarship paid over four years has been presented to incoming freshman Ashley Crowder from Spruce Pine, who plans to major in special education. She graduates June 4 from Avery County High School.

The scholarship is awarded to a student who is an applicant for the N.C. Teaching Fellows Scholarship.  The recipient must teach for a minimum of four years in a North Carolina public, charter or government school after graduation and will have seven years to fulfill that obligation.

Judy Benson James graduated from Appalachian in 1969. She retired after a 30-year-career in public education in Guilford County and in Burlington. Her husband, Steve attended UNC Chapel Hill but completed his degree in 1976 from Guilford College as an adult student, earning a degree in management. He retired after a 30-year career as a systems designer of voice and data networks for Bell South Communications, now AT&T.

Their strong belief in the value of education – from public school to college – is why they established the scholarship at Appalachian. They endowed a scholarship at Guilford College for adult learners in 2007. Their philanthropy helped establish the Hassell Health Technologies Center at Guilford Technical Community College in 2009, named in memory of Judy James’ mother, Lillian Hassell Benson.

Married 39 years, the couple met when one of Mrs. James’s coworkers brought her to church to meet a male friend. She met Steve instead. They spend much of their time traveling, and have visited all seven continents. Their favorite destinations include Antarctica, Africa, Italy, Jordan, Egypt and Australia.

“We have no children, so we wanted to be able to help students at Appalachian, especially future teachers because we definitely need good teachers,” Mrs. James said.

That, and the fact his wife and mother-in-law were educators also made the scholarship a natural fit with their philanthropic activities, Mr. James explained. “Everything we are involved with tends to have something to do with education.”

“We hope this scholarship will help a student realize their goal of becoming a teacher,” Mrs. James said.

Crowder, a first-generation college student, will participate in the same activities provided  N.C. Teaching Fellows in Appalachian’s Reich College of Education, such as special courses that focus on leadership development and at-risk students, service opportunities, travel to Washington, D.C., and visit area schools and attend special topical seminars.

“This scholarship will provide me with an opportunity beyond what words can express,” Crowder said. “It will make my college experience more enriching and full of opportunities.”