Gift to WIU will benefit future teachers for rural school districts
A donation will allow Western Illinois University to expand a program that recruits and develops teachers to work in west central Illinois.
The program is called the Great River Teacher Corps. It provides scholarships to education students who agree to work for at least three years in a 22-county rural area that includes Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, Mason, McDonough, Mercer, Morgan, Peoria, Pike, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Tazewell, and Warren counties.
One of those students is Madison Boyer, who’s a senior majoring in elementary education.
Boyer found the teacher corps program appealing because of her background.
“Growing up, I lived in a rural area, and I just love the community aspect of it. I think everybody’s really tight-knit, and I want to teach somewhere where I can have the same tight-knit feeling in the community,” Boyer said, adding that the scholarship allowed her to continue her studies uninterrupted.
“It really helped ensure that I had enough to stay in school. I didn’t have to drop out or take a year off to work.”
A donation from longtime teachers Arlington and Arlene Seymour created a teacher education endowment in 2017, and three years later came a larger gift worth $1 million. The university said it has since grown to more than $3 million.
In their honor, Western created the Arlington and Arlene Seymour Center for Rural Education, Advocacy, Policy, and Research. The university held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the center on Oct. 27.
“Today is about celebrating philanthropy and the difference it’s making at Western Illinois University,” said Clare Thompson, Vice President for Advancement, Alumni Relations, and Athletics.
“I believe really strongly that higher education changes the world. Our area deserves a strong regional university, and philanthropy is a big piece of making that happen.”
She said the Seymours believed in education and in WIU.
As part of the celebration, Thompson said WIU hosted 200 students from the region who want to be teachers.
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