Elementary education major Kelli Sanders spent her senior year learning and working inside a real school, starting each day at 7:30 a.m. and sometimes staying until late at night.

Like many other education students, Sanders didn’t have much free time to work a part-time job to pay for school. But thanks to the Betty Jane Tegtmeyer Memorial Education Scholarship, Sanders was able to concentrate on her student-teaching experience and become the best teacher she can be.

Her College of Education scholarship was created in 2012 by Tom Tegtmeyer ’70 in honor of his late wife, Betty ’69, who was an educator. It provides financial assistance to future educators from their hometown, Ottawa, Illinois.

Sanders, who graduates in May 2015 and already has a job lined up, was the first recipient.

“In talking to Kelli about teaching, she has the look in her eye that my wife had when she was a young teacher,” Tegtmeyer said. “I know that Kelli is going to be fine. She’s all about her students, and she’s really, really going to help her school district.”

Sanders is among more than 600 recipients of education scholarships in the past five years at Illinois State. Last year alone, there was nearly $400,000 in scholarships awarded to 129 future educators.

These scholarships help support and recruit students so they can take advantage of all of the opportunities Illinois State has to offer, including the yearlong Professional Development Schools (PDS) program or study abroad trips to England, Central America, Spain, and other locations.

Sanders spent her senior year at Prairieland Elementary School in Normal, as part of the yearlong PDS program. She’s grateful for the scholarship and her experiences at ISU.

“It’s nice to know that Tom really supports my dream of becoming a teacher, and that he has helped me along this journey. It’s very encouraging,” Sanders said.

Tegtmeyer said his gift makes him feel more connected than ever to his alma mater.

“There are several times in your life when you’re really, really happy. I think of the births of my children, and my grandchildren,” Tegtmeyer said. “This was another event that got me on that high. It was one of those wonderful, wonderful feelings that make you feel like you knew you had done the right thing.”

Learn more about how you can support Illinois State’s College of Education.

Students: Find College of Education scholarships and learn how to apply.

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu. Bob Tomaski can be reached at rdtomas@IllinoisState.edu.