Left to right: Cole Thompson, Alison Humphery, Brenlee Damon and Lynnea Janssen

Four Quincy University students, Cole Thompson ’21, Lynnea Janssen ’21, Alison Humphrey ’21 and Brenlee Damon ’21, have been awarded the Grow Your Own Scholarship. The Grow Your Own Rural Teacher Education Program (GYO) provides scholarship opportunities to students interested in pursuing a degree in education and are willing to stay and teach within the 10-county region surrounding Quincy.

“Teaching in our small community has always been a desire of mine,” said Humphrey.  “I had life-changing relationships with several of my teachers, and I am excited to build those types of relationships with my students.”

Quincy University’s School of Education was awarded a $24,950 grant from the Tracy Family Foundation to pilot the new program. The program, under the leadership of Dr. Glenda McCarty, director of teacher education, focuses on teacher candidate retention and early support in the field post-graduation.

The Teacher Shortages: What We Know report, produced by the Education Commission of the States (May 2016), acknowledges the struggle rural schools face in attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers. The GYO scholarship, given in the junior and senior year, can help the university retain more students and ultimately increase the number of students graduating with a degree in education and staying to teach in the rural communities surrounding Quincy.

“I chose to pursue a teaching degree because I believe that through teaching I can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and install a love of learning in all students,” said Janssen.

In addition to the scholarship award, the winners will stay an additional three weeks in the summer to participate in training and teach in the Grow Your Own Summer Institute. The institute serves both to boost teacher candidate experience and knowledge, and to provide additional enrichment opportunities for area youth.

“As a teacher, I can be a role model for young boys. Many boys don’t have anyone that they can look up to, and having a positive male influence can change their life,” said Thompson. “I love our community. If a school is struggling or going through something traumatic, the other schools around the area always jump in to lend a hand, and it’s something that you don’t see everywhere.”

The winners will also benefit from the post-graduation mentoring program. Approximately one-third of all teachers leave the teaching profession in less than three years, and almost half of all teachers leave teaching within five years. The addition of this program will allow for critical support in the first year of teaching, especially in the rural communities that do not have new teacher mentor programs in place.

“I chose to become a teacher because I love working with kids. Looking back on my life there was never a time that I wasn’t around children. I just want to aid in teaching the future,” said Damon.

Founded in 1860 by Franciscan friars, Quincy University (www.quincy.edu) is a Catholic, co-educational, residential university offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult education programs that integrate liberal arts, active learning, practical experience, and Franciscan values. Quincy University’s intercollegiate sports are members of the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference for men and women. For more information, please contact the Quincy University Office of Community Relations by calling (217) 228-5275.