By KATHY SCHMUGGE
COLUMBIA — During a time when many educators are demanding more pay and are leaving their jobs for higher paying ones, the teachers at St. Joseph School unanimously decided to give the world another message for the jubilee year. The entire faculty agreed to give up a portion of their salary each month in order to finance a full scholarship for one of its students. Their message of love and sacrifice will live in the heart of the entire school community but especially for the winner, second grade student Andrew Woodrum, who will attend St. Joseph this year tuition free.
The scholarship was opened to all St. Joseph students entering grades second through sixth for the 2000-2001 school year who maintained at least a C average on all report card grades and had no “serious/consistent discipline problems.” Also, the students were required to write a handwritten letter on why they should be considered for the scholarship. After all entries were read, each student was assigned an arbitrary number, which was placed in a lottery drawing for the scholarship.
The drawing just happen to take place during a PTO meeting which Andrew’s father, Michael Woodrum, attended. He never imagined that one of his children would be the recipient of the scholarship and was in shock to hear Andrew’s name being called out.
“The scholarship makes a statement that the teachers at St. Joseph School are completely committed to the students and the school,” said Woodrum.
Andrew’s mother, Lauren, was also overjoyed when she got the news by phone that night. She recalled waking the children with her loud cheering. “We already felt so blessed to be able to send Andrew and Lauren to St. Joseph, the scholarship was more than we had ever hoped for,” she said.
This magnanimous act was born out of the desire from its principal, Notre Dame Sister Christina Murphy, to celebrate the jubilee in a special way, which would show the students how important they are to the faculty.
“Although we had several jubilee events during the school year, I wanted us to do something memorable,” said Sister Murphy.
She had solicited ideas from friends, parents and even other principals. When she came upon the idea of a full scholarship, she presented it to the faculty with the stipulation that it would require full participation or it would not be done at all. Although given the option to decline, the entire faculty agreed to do it. Even the newly hired teachers, who were also given the opportunity to say ‘no,’ decided to be apart of the scholarship gift.
Terry Malloy, a second-grade teacher assistant, remembered not even thinking twice about accepting the challenge and saying ‘yes’ instinctively because “it was simply the right thing to do.”
The faculty did get an unexpected gift for their generosity, and it came in the kind words found in the student entries. Many students praised their teachers and the school. The scholarship committee members recalled some excerpts written by the students. One child wrote, “I am glad I can learn about God,” while another stated, “I love being at St. Joseph School because all the teachers know you and stop and talk to you!”
The students were not the only ones with words of praise. Sister Murphy added her own reaction to the faculty’s support for the jubilee scholarship.
“I can’t describe how proud I am to be a part of a faculty that has a vision to see beyond their immediate needs,” she said in admiration of her teachers who continually exemplify the spirit of joyful giving.