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Gheens Foundation Awards Scholarship to University of the Cumberlands Senior


WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – Brenda Woods, a University of the Cumberlands senior, is one of eight future math and science teachers who recently learned that they will have an additional $5,000 this year to apply toward their independent college education. The students, representing eight different independent Kentucky colleges and universities, are the recipients of the first Gheens STEM Teacher Preparation Scholarships. Improving STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education is a priority for Kentucky as it builds a globally competitive 21st century workforce.

Woods, a graduate of Williamsburg High School, and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ford Woods of Williamsburg, Ky., is pursuing a major in middle school education, with emphases in mathematics and science. She hopes to do her student teaching during the spring semester at Whitley County Middle School. Woods believes that middle school is a crucial time in students’ educational progression, and her goal is to inspire and connect with all of her students. She writes: “I will give my students the same opportunities that I received from my teachers: a fair education, a new look into the future, and a passion for the content.”

“Producing highly skilled teachers in math and sciences is an area where independent colleges excel in meeting the needs of Kentucky’s K-12 schools,” said Gary S. Cox, president of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU).

The Gheens Foundation granted AIKCU eight scholarships of $5,000 each to distribute to aspiring teachers studying at independent colleges through a competitive process.

“We approached the Gheens Foundation about funding these scholarships because of its shared commitment to education in Kentucky,” said Cox. “By selecting the best candidate from eight separate schools we felt the competition would focus even more attention on teacher preparation around the state…ultimately benefiting K-12 students throughout Kentucky.”

The Gheens STEM Teacher Preparation Scholarships were open to students at any of Kentucky’s 20 independent colleges and universities studying to become K-12 teachers in a STEM. Priority was given to minority, female, low-income, and first generation applicants, as well as to those planning to teach in high need school districts. The competitive selection process was developed and overseen by an independent third party.

The Gheens Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in Kentucky. The Foundation’s support of Kentucky ’s independent colleges and universities dates back to the 1950s.