Skip to main content

Murray Journal

Student Receives Scholarship From Former Teachers, Community

Aug 04, 2015 09:45AM ● By Bryan Scott

Jake Fetzer and his second-grade teacher from Liberty Elementary, Kathy Sheen.

By Julie Slama

Murray High graduate Jake Fetzer knows he has teachers who believe in him and want to see him succeed.

Jake was the second recipient of the Liberty Elementary’s “We Believe in You” Scholarship, awarded to a student who could use the assistance in preparing for college studies. He received $1,000.

Jake, who took six Advanced Placement courses, plans to study mechanical engineering at the University of Utah.

“I go over to Liberty and help out with what is needed and see most of my former teachers, telling them what’s going on and keeping up with what is happening at the school,” Jake said. “I always hear Mrs. Sheen, my second-grade teacher, telling students the story of how I raised up a few levels in reading when I was her student. And she did it: she opened up reading for me, and that in itself opened up everything else — math, science — and how I was able to learn.”

Kathy Sheen, who has taught 17 years in Murray School District, said Jake came into her class two levels below grade level, but after working with him and watching him advance, “he went crazy over AR (Accelerated Reading) and never stopped reading.”

Sheen said that Jake was also involved in high school athletics — football and wrestling — as well as in the community by taking care of animals at Gardner Village Farm and cleaning headstones at a local cemetery for Memorial Day as his Boy Scout Eagle project.

“He invited me to his Court of Honor ceremony for his Eagle Scout project,” she said. “I’ve been able to teach his brother and sister and he has set such a nice example to show that if you work at something enough, you can succeed, whether it’s his reading or doing community service.”

Sheen said that Liberty students are not often selected for typical scholarships.

“More often than not, Liberty students are Title I students who drop out, not receive top academic scholarships. So if we can make them realize they can succeed and give them a hand in getting there, they will do it,” she said.

Sixth-grade teacher Judy Mahoskey, who helped set up the perpetual scholarship, agrees.

“Out of billions of scholarships, maybe only one or two Liberty students will receive them,” she said. “Our students score OK on tests, and they’re good kids who help out their families to survive, but they can’t compete out there in the big pond. They’re just invisible, not typically the SBO president, cheer captain or star in the school play, and that’s why we’ve set up the scholarship — to let them know that we believe in them. Graduating high school is a big deal for kids from a Title I school and we’re still here, cheering them on, and through this scholarship, supporting them to succeed even more.”

The idea of a scholarship originated out of a conversation last year between Mahoskey and former principal Darren Dean. Staff, faculty and members of the community can donate to the scholarship fund either on a monthly basis or a one-time donation.

“If we can add a student every year, then in 10 years we could fund 10 students. We’d hope to be able to support each of them with $1,000. Even if we can get $1 or $10 from everyone every month, we’ll make a significant difference in a student’s life,” Dean said.

A committee reviews scholarship applicants in the spring. Applicants need to have attended Liberty Elementary, show grade-point average, work, extracurricular activities, volunteer service, financial need or special circumstances and indicate if the student is a first-generation, post-high school student.

“We look to see if the students may need a leg up and may not otherwise be able to get to attend post-high school education,” Mahoskey said.

Jake said he wrote five short essays about his activities and service, as well as had teachers write him letters of recommendation for the scholarship.

“I knew a lot of kids wouldn’t be eligible for this particular scholarship, so I applied and am so thankful that I did. It will help and it’s neat to know the teachers who are supporting me,” he said.

Last year, in its inaugural year, David Reyes received $500 and plans to study at the University of Utah once he returns from his church mission.