It was the end of an era for Terry Todd.
Todd spoke during the Cherry Creek School District Board of Education's May 9 meeting held at Dakota Valley Elementary School, praising the value of lifelong education and reminiscing about the legacy of a former district employee. It wasn't the first time Todd had spoken about Verne Shelley and the scholarship that now bears his name, but it would most likely be the last.
"This is our thirty-first year awarding the Verne Shelley scholarship," Todd said, speaking of the program that has awarded funds to CCSD employees who personify a commitment to continuing education. "Unfortunately, it's going to be our last, because we're out of money."
Todd went on to announce six district employees honored with a scholarship of $300 each, money designated to support continuing education efforts ranging from one teacher's educational trip to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London to a school nurse's efforts to complete a bachelor's degree. For the final year of the scholarship, the number of recipients doubled from the previous standard of three.
Those recipients were Robert Romero from Mission Viejo Elementary School, Gina Bighorn from Timberline Elementary School, Cynthia Poinsett from Cherokee Trail High School, Theresa Morris from Cherry Creek High School, Dorothea Madry from Liberty Middle School and Mary Beth Dunleavy from Sky Vista Middle School. Each recipient received a plaque in addition to their scholarship funds.
"We want to thank Superintendent Bull and the previous superintendents for their personal commitment to the scholarship," Todd said before announcing the winners. "Thank you for acknowledging its value to the employees of the district."
Over the past 31 years, the value of the scholarship has been inestimable for countless teachers, staff members and other employees of the district. The scholarship has shifted from the now-defunct Optimist Club entirely to the district, but its purpose has remained constant for more than three decades.
"We want to thank Superintendent Bull and the previous superintendents for their personal commitment to the scholarship," Terry Todd said before announcing the winners. "Thank you for acknowledging its value to the employees of the district."
It all started as a tribute to Shelley, who served as the director of personnel for the Cherry Creek School District until his untimely death in 1984. Shelley saw education as an unending effort, a commitment that continues long after graduation from high school, college or graduate school. It's a philosophy that's lived on in the scholarship, a fund set up in 1985 by Todd, a former CCSD teacher, and his fellow members of the Optimist International volunteer organization.
The formal end of the scholarship doesn't signal the end of a widespread interest in continuing education among CCSD employees, Todd pointed out. This year, Todd and his colleagues had to choose among 60 applicants.
"It's going to be sad to not do it, but as they say in Mudville, it was a good run," Todd said, referencing the baseball poem "Casey at the Bat." "Persistence pays off."
The final six recipients of the Shelley Scholarship weren't the only honorees during this last ceremony on May 9. After announcing the winners and distributing the plaques, Todd took a turn in the spotlight.
"I'd like to thank you, Mr. Todd," said CCSD Associate Superintendent Scott Siegfried after awarding Todd with his own celebratory plaque. "Thank you for your dedication for more than 31 years."