Wartburg College seniors Sadie Short and Johanna Vander Wilt were each awarded a $500 Grant-in-Aid scholarship from the Alpha Pi chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, which promotes professional and personal growth in female educators.
Short, who hopes to teach middle school English in Iowa or Minnesota, and Vander Wilt, who hopes to teach third grade in Iowa, have both wanted to be teachers since they were children.
“I have struggled with frustration seeing gaps in the public education system. I looked at these faults, and instead of throwing up my hands in a ‘what can you do?’ kind of exasperation, I saw a need that I wanted to address,” Short said. “I want to be a teacher so that I can help pull up the kids who are falling through the cracks. Cracks that are full of students sitting around bored after finishing their work early, students struggling to make meaningful connections with their peers, students needing an extra hand up to be successful after graduation. Students like my siblings; students who have so much potential to learn and to do significant things.”
“My desire to be a teacher was solidified when I went on a mission trip to Veröce, Hungary, and taught English as a Second Language to local children,” Vander Wilt said. “In those two weeks, I fell in love with the kids in my ESL class and with being a teacher. I want to make a difference in kids’ lives, to show them they are loved and have the potential to do wonderful things.”
Michelle Byers, a Waverly-Shell Rock high school English teacher and Delta Kappa Gamma member, said the group received numerous exceptional applications but Short’s and Vander Wilt’s stood out above the rest.
“These students not only showed their ability to overcome obstacles to reach their goals but also displayed a commitment to students and to careers as educators,” Byers said.