A Lasting Legacy: Meeting the Need for Educators

by Shannon Linton

U.S. schools will lose 1.5 million teachers to retirement in the next eight years, according to a 2010 report from the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.1 Pair that figure with new-teacher attrition, or the wave of new educators leaving the field after three years or fewer in the classroom, and the number climbs to nearly 1.8 million.

Adding to this already-troubled outlook, experts also predict a six percent increase in elementary and secondary school enrollment over the next 10 years.2 Colleges and universities across the nation carry a sobering burden to not only train new teachers to stand in the gap created by retirees, but to also meet the increased demand that comes with more students.

At Azusa Pacific University, professors and staff members in the School of Education hope to be part of the answer. A $200,000 endowment, created in January 2011, to honor the legacy of Marvin O. Johnson aligns with the university’s efforts to train future teachers. A lifelong educator himself, Johnson set aside scholarship funds for students who plan to teach in public schools, a portion of which now supports the Marvin O. Johnson Teacher Education Scholarship at APU.

“This scholarship allows us to provide resources for students who might otherwise not be able to enroll in a full-time program,” said APU Provost Mark Stanton, Ph.D. “This gift also highlights our commitment to quality as National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education-accredited institution and affirms our goal of preparing teachers for public education.”

Marvin O. Johnson’s long career in education took him around the world to classrooms in France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, where he culminated his career with teaching in California’s San Juan Capistrano School District for 23 years. He saw firsthand the influence teachers have in the classroom and understood that inspiring students to learn affects more than their school years—it carries a generational impact. He wanted to further that impact even after he passed, explained his sister, Doris Howard.

Doris and her husband, Richard, created the endowment at Azusa Pacific with the goal of offering two upper-division or graduate students $5,000 annually toward the cost of earning a graduate degree or credential in education. Doris added that her brother left the decision of which schools would receive funding to her. “As a believer, I chose to give the money to Christian schools whose statements of faith reflect what we know to be true,” she said. “I was so impressed with what Azusa Pacific University stands for and with the advanced degree programs in the School of Education.”

For the Howards, these scholarships represent more than an investment in young people’s education. “We really see these scholarships having eternal rewards,” Doris said. “We’re helping future Christian teachers to finish their degrees and go on to make a difference for students in public schools.”

Stanton explained that the perpetuity of these scholarships increases their impact for the university and the students who receive them. “This endowment will help at least two students each year for a very long time—that longevity makes this gift incredibly powerful,” he said. “In the years to come, the Marvin O. Johnson Teacher Education Scholarship can help more students access Azusa Pacific’s cutting-edge programs—the same types of programs school districts are relying on to train the next generation of teachers.”

1Carroll, Thomas G. and Elizabeth Foster. 2010. Who Will Teach? Experience Matters. National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. http://www.nctaf.org.

2Bailey, Tabitha M. and William J. Hussar. 2011. Projections of Education Statistics to 2019. National Center for Education Statistics. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/projections/projections2019/.

Shannon Linton ’07 is a freelance writer and editor living in Covina, California. shannonlinton2286@gmail.com

Originally published in the Winter '11 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.