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New Patterson Scholars Announced

July 19, 2018

Childhoods spent teaching younger siblings and teddy bears. Becoming engrossed in math, history, music, sharing it and helping others understand it. While still in high school themselves, working in classroom settings and feeling the certainty of knowing this was the place they wanted to be, what they wanted to do.

This is what the newest ESU Patterson Scholars have in common.

The Teachers College at Emporia State University is pleased to announce the names of the seven newest Patterson Scholars. They are:

  • Morgan Bridges, Richmond, graduated from Central Heights High School (USD 288), elementary education
  • Elisa DeLong, Cottonwood Falls, graduated from Chase County Junior/Senior High School (USD 284), elementary education
  • Kennedy Dragonas, Allen, graduated from Northern Heights High School (USD 251), secondary math education
  • Samuel Gantenbein, Bennington, graduated from Bennington High School (USD 240), secondary social studies education
  • Braxton Pauls, Emporia, graduated from Emporia High School (USD 253), secondary music education
  • Emma Spacheck, Ellsworth, graduated from Ellsworth High School (USD 327), elementary education
  • Mattie Ritz-Tillman, Topeka, graduated from Seaman High School (USD 345), secondary English education

These incoming freshmen majoring in elementary and secondary education will be the recipients of $6,000 for the 2018-19 school year. The join a group of nine sophomores who received first-year funding in 2017-18. These sophomores are:

  • Jocelyne Centeno, Wichita, graduated from Wichita South High School (USD 259), elementary education
  • Alyssa Conway, Topeka, graduated from Shawnee Heights High School (USD 450), secondary business education
  • Elisabeth Evans, Galva, graduated from McPherson High School (USD 418), elementary education
  • Hannah Lingard, Topeka, graduated from Washburn Rural High School (USD 437), secondary English education
  • Tayler Loudermill, Olathe, graduated from Olathe South High School (USD 233), secondary social studies education
  • Bobbi Rookstool, Clay Center, graduated from Clay Center High School (USD 379), secondary English education
  • Dylan Schneider, Edgerton, graduated from Gardner Edgerton High School (USD 231), elementary education
  • Emma Tryon, Blue Rapids, graduated from Valley Heights Junior Senior High School (USD 498), elementary education
  • Chieko Zimmerman, Topeka, graduated from Topeka High School (USD 501), elementary education

The Teacher Education Scholarship from international best-selling author James Patterson is for students who have expressed an interest in pursuing a career as an elementary or secondary school teacher, preferably in the English language arts. This is the sixth year of funding for the program at Emporia State.

Ritz-Tillman wants to teach English language arts at the middle/high school level. Lacking siblings, she said she spent summer days gathering materials for lessons she presented to her stuffed animals, including worksheets and flashcards. As she moved beyond that time of her life, she had the opportunity to help teach a fifth-grade class. “My favorite part of teaching was when I would come into the classroom; I have never felt more content,” she said.

Bridges watched her mother — a teacher — and her mother’s co-workers. “I saw how much they did for their students before, during and after the school day and how much they cared about them. This love and dedication inspired me to want to become a teacher myself,” she said. Bridges wants to teach elementary school, preferably in her hometown to give back to her community.

Dragonas, whose mother also teaches, saw the example of what it took to be a teacher, but Dragonas also struggled, seeing that concepts and lesson did not always come easy to her. She remembers the teachers who helped, as well as the ones that did not. “My passion and desire will be to make every student see that he or she is unique and valued. Students need to feel safe. They need to feel supported and encouraged,” she said. Dragonas wants to go into elementary and special education.

In middle school, a teacher told Spacheck she should never be a teacher because it did not pay well enough. So even though since she was 5 she wanted to be a teacher, she listened and explored another avenue. In high school, she had an opportunity to teach, and she was back to her original love. “I enjoyed seeing a new concept ‘click’ in their young minds… This brought joy to my heart as I knew I was making an impact on their lives,” she said. She wants to teach elementary school.

“I want to be a teacher that kids feel lucky to have,” DeLong said. Finding a love of math at a young age, and then discovering she loved explaining and teaching it to classmates, led to work as a tutor. Deciding to be a teacher was, “not a hard choice. Teaching and helping kids actually understand the subject is what makes me happy.”

Gantenbein has a curious mind that was piqued when he found out there is great nuance in history. His passion to discover the past was soon followed by a second — his love of sharing that knowledge with others. “Something sparked inside of me (when working with classmates) … seeing the look in (their) eyes when they understood a concept that was a blur to them felt great,” he said.

Pauls, a musician, considered a variety of career options in the area of music before teaching both large and small choral ensembles, a string orchestra and a full orchestra and choir. That is what did it. Pauls said, “Each and every moment that I was allowed to teach was one of absolute bliss. I can confidently say that there is absolutely nothing that I would rather do every single day of my life than teaching.”

These aspiring students join the prior 15 scholarship winners from the first cohort groups at Emporia State in 2013-14 and 2014-15. To learn more about the Patterson Scholarship, visit https://www.emporia.edu/teach/patterson-scholars/.

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