The Ferrell family endowment was established in 2013 by Audrey Ferrell ’71. Four generations of the Ferrell family have chosen careers in education. Audrey taught second grade in Ft. Madison, Iowa, and Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and as a substitute teacher in Central Illinois. She and her husband John Ferrell had
three children, all graduates of Illinois State.

John was a music education professor at Illinois State for 35 years, and his parents were also teachers. The couple’s oldest daughter graduated with a degree in elementary education and taught third grade in Riverton and preschool in Denver, Colorado. The spouses of the Ferrell children also attended Illinois State, and one of the Ferrell grandchildren is a first grade teacher in Denver.

Audrey is a strong believer in the College of Education’s Professional Development School (PDS) model. Sixty percent of eligible teacher candidates complete their student teaching in a PDS, connecting them with a single school for a full school year instead of the traditional single semester model. Students emerge from their yearlong placement with a deeper knowledge of the profession. They are actively sought after by school districts throughout the state, and administrators tell the University that adding a PDS graduate to their staff is akin to hiring a second-year teacher.

The Ferrell family endowment will help the College of Education realize the goal of placing all students at a PDS by removing possible financial barriers. Not all of these placements allow for students to live at home, making financial support crucial.

We are extremely thankful for the kind support of the Ferrell family. Support for PDS students is a critical need, and can be offered by sponsoring a school site, providing housing, and creating an endowment as the Ferrells have done.