When credential student Annmarie Thompson took the stage to accept her Partners in Education (PIE) Fellowship, her son came bounding up with her. Giggling and jumping around the podium, the 7-year-old brought lighthearted laughter to what was otherwise an emotional acceptance speech.
“This award means a lot to me as a single mother,” said Thompson, pausing to collect herself. “I was worried I would not be able to finish getting my credential.”
Because students continue to pay tuition fees but are not recompensed for their work in the classroom, many take on a full-time job to offset costs of living. The PIE fellowship allows future teachers to focus on teaching.
“This award will help me provide for my family, and it’s given me the encouragement to keep me on the path that I’m on,” Thompson said.
Encouragement was a repeated theme throughout the speeches of the other 16 recipients; the encouragement and support of the fellowship is as meaningful as the monetary reward. Recipients are given fellowships of up to $5,000 and are connected with an “ambassador.”
“Each recipient is assigned to a PIE board member whose job it will be to remain in contact with the student throughout the next year,” said Sue Johnson, chair of the PIE board. “This keeps our students connected to the university and to PIE, as well as keeping them informed of upcoming events.”
Many awardees met their ambassadors for the first time at the eighth annual PIE awards ceremony on Feb. 12, held at The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.
In a video of past recipients shown at the ceremony, Iliana Tejada, a 2013 recipient, talked about the importance of the ambassador connection.
“I thought I was going to be by myself trying to get through this entire process,” Tejada said. “Now I know I’m not going to be going through this alone.”
Four of the fellowships were made possible by a $100,000 donation from the Felzer family in honor of Alan Felzer, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering, who died in 2009. The donation funds a total of 20 Alan Felzer fellowships over a five-year period and continues his legacy of excellence in teaching.
“Our sustaining group of donors is persistent, generous and committed to this work,” said Dorothy Roberts, chair of the fundraising committee. “We thank each of you.”
Johnson ended the dinner with words of inspiration for the 17 awardees.
“As you work with your students every day, remember that you are the one they will remember. You are the one who can ignite their love of learning.”