Being a teacher is undoubtedly demanding work, maybe even more so in a post-COVID environment. But all the challenges aren’t enough to deter tens of thousands of people who graduate from college every year with the intention of becoming an educator. In 2020, American colleges and universities conferred more than 85,000 bachelor’s degrees in education. Frederick County Public Schools has almost 3,000 teachers.
No one knows the importance of good teachers more than those who have been in the classroom. In an effort to inspire and encourage young people to become teachers, Frederick County Retired Teachers Association, now known as Frederick County Retired School Personnel Association (FCRSPA) created a scholarship fund with the Community Foundation in the late 1980s. The Frederick County Retired School Personnel Association Scholarship Endowment Fund has provided more than $65,000 to local students pursuing degrees in education.
“Because of the County’s need for certified teachers, it was the Association’s hope that upon graduating from college, the recipient would return to Frederick County and choose to work in the Frederick County Public School System,” said John “Jack” Tritt, retired FCPS assistant superintendent of administration and finance, and president of FCRSPA in the late 1980s.
“When scholarship recipients graduate and return to work in the Frederick County Public School System, the Association’s intent and the Fund’s purpose are more than fulfilled,” Tritt said.
According to Tritt, the fund was created in 1998 with a major contribution from retired teacher Marion Mercer and additional funds raised from FCRSPA board of directors, Delta Kappa Gamma and other individual contributions made in memory of deceased members.
In 2006, Dr. Richard and Patricia Petre created a scholarship fund to support Frederick County residents pursuing a degree in teacher education. Mrs. Petre spent 28 years teaching language arts and serving as a reading specialist in Frederick County. Dr. Petre worked for eight years as a teacher and reading coordinator for Frederick County Public Schools and worked 26 years with the Maryland State Department of Education where he ultimately served as Assistant Deputy State Superintendent of Schools. The Frederick County Retired School Personnel Association/Dr. Richard and Patricia Petre Scholarship Fund has provided more than $42,000 in scholarships to individuals studying to be teachers.
Nancy Gordon spent her career working as a reading specialist in Frederick County Public Schools. She retired in 2008 and has remained active with FCRSPA, and she also serves on the Community Foundation’s scholarship committee. She said that those who have worked in education understand all too well how great the need is to have quality teachers in our schools.
“I think it’s important as retirees that we work to continue helping the profession, this is one way we can do that, by providing scholarships for those working towards their certification,” Gordon said.
Thanks to these scholarships and others, dozens of Frederick County residents are realizing their dream of becoming a teacher. And those teachers are encouraging and inspiring the youngest among us to chase their own dreams.
*This was published in The Frederick News-Post on March 27, 2023.