Highline alumnus donates $40,000

By Sam King - Staff Reporter

Up to eight Highline students studying to become an elementary or early childhood teacher may get a boost to funding their education thanks to a donation to the school.

Louise Wilkinson, an experienced diversity trainer from Mercer Island, recently learned about Highline's effort to boost the number of teachers of color in the field and donated $40,000 to the cause.

A former Boeing executive, Wilkinson now runs Wilkinson Intercultural Consulting.

According to her Linkedin page, she is "committed to helping develop awareness and active inner change that reduces prejudice and discrimination in individuals and inequity in organizations and society."

"I received an email from Louise Wilkinson, who provided this $40,000 fund for the scholarship, and she's asking us to put $25,000 into an endowment that will yield income every year and also to provide $15,000 in direct scholarships," said Dr. Frank Kline, program manager for the Teaching and Early Learning bachelor of applied science degree.

"This $15,000 might help as many as eight students this year. We are in the process of developing the eligibility requirements," Dr. Kline said.

He said he is also developing an application form and the program is looking at awarding significant gifts for a large number of people.

In particular, "we are trying to identify people of color who are interested in becoming teachers," Dr. Kline said.

According to a new study paper published by the Institute of Labor Economics, "Exposure to a black teacher during elementary school raises long-run educational attainment for black male students, especially among those from low-income households. For the most disadvantaged black males, conservative estimates suggest that exposure to a black teacher in primary school cuts high school dropout rates 39 percent."

"It's a major issue when we look at the local school districts and compare the percentage of white teachers to white students. In Auburn, 90 percent of the teachers are white but only 34 percent of the students are white," Dr. Kline said.

He said there is a shortage of educators who want to work with young children and there are not enough qualified teachers who reflect the diversity of their community. To fill the gap Highline College is offering the four-year degree in Teaching and Early Learning.

If you want to apply for this scholarship award, the deadline is Feb. 18. For more information about the teaching and early education bachelor degree visit highline.edu/bas or contact, Dr. Kline at 206-592-3420, e-mail fkline@highline.edu.

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