Three University of Lynchburg seniors from Central Virginia have been awarded a Virginia Teaching Scholarship from the Virginia Department of Education.
Haley Burch ’19, Kaitlyn Kennedy ’19, and Julia Cash ’19 will receive the $10,000 scholarships as an incentive to teach in Virginia public schools during their first year after graduation. The news of the scholarship inspired pride and excitement.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me, as well as the other recipients, and I am so grateful,” Cash said.
The competitive scholarship invites each college or university with a teacher preparation program to nominate three students for the award. It is rare for three students from one school to receive the honor, said Dr. Roger Jones, dean of the College of Education, Leadership Studies, and Counseling.
Two of the recipients — Cash and Burch — graduated from Amherst County High School in 2017 with associate degrees in hand from Central Virginia Community College, thanks to the Early College program. Both transferred to Lynchburg to pursue long-held dreams of teaching.
Burch described growing up with a desk in her room where she could pretend to be a teacher. “I think what really motivated me to become a teacher was the idea that kids need love and support to grow and be successful,” she said. “I want to be the one who loves, supports, and motivates each student to be the best person they can be.”
Burch plans to teach kindergarten through second grade. She especially looks forward to sharing her love of reading and helping children get a good start in school. “I want to make the most impact as I possibly can in shaping my students into life-long learners,” Burch said.
Cash, who also plans to teach early grades, said her own teachers demonstrated how impactful a teaching career can be. “I love the idea of being able to be a teacher as well as a lifelong learner,” she said.
Kennedy, on the other hand, came to Lynchburg as a marketing major. She was tutoring students at Perrymont Elementary School, less than a mile away from campus, when she realized that she loved teaching children.
The teacher education program at the University of Lynchburg helped Kennedy pursue her new passion. “I feel that with each class I take it has prepared me a little more each time for teaching,” she said.
Cash said the education professors have given her exceptional guidance. “I have gained so much knowledge in preparation for my teaching career, and I am excited to start my job as a teacher in less than a year,” she said.
Burch said studying at Lynchburg has helped her become a better learner and a more open-minded educator. “My professors are always there when I need them, and they know exactly how to present the instructional material in a way that benefits us and our future students,” she said.