Charros scholarships provide support to future teachers
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 4, 2006

Ofelia Madrid

SCOTTSDALE - Julie Gieringer has come full circle.

The Desert Mountain High School teacher encourages students to apply for the Charros Future Teacher Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship to an Arizona university.

She is in a unique position to give advice, having been a recipient of the scholarship. The Scottsdale Charros, one of the city's largest philanthropic groups, started the program to lure more students to teaching careers.

Swelling the teacher ranks is critical in a state struggling to recruit and retain them because of reduced class sizes, boosts in student enrollment, and teachers abandoning the field, educators say.

"Teaching is one of the most important vocations there is and we want our seniors to know that we value their future contributions to the community,"
said John Schultz, this year's Charros scholarship chairman.

The Charros scholarship is awarded to two Scottsdale high school seniors who'll major in education. Valued at more than $40,000, the scholarship pays for tuition, books, a meal plan, housing, a monthly stipend and a new computer. The deadline to apply is Dec. 8.

After seven years, the Northeast Valley is witnessing the fruits of the program, as more scholarship winners return to the region to teach.

Gieringer, a 2002 Saguaro High School graduate, is in her second year of teaching English and student government at Desert Mountain. She graduated from the University of Arizona in three years.

Much of the program's support is not financial, she said.

"The constant devotion, trust and support, willingness to help from the Charros was amazing," she said.

The Charros also fete high schools seniors and a teacher from each Scottsdale Unified School District school at an annual banquet.

Marie Blanchard, 25, was one of the first students to receive the scholarship when graduating from Arcadia High School in 1999.

Blanchard now teaches French at Shadow Mountain High School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District.

"The scholarship gave me a great opportunity to get involved in school. And not having a job on the side allowed me to completely focus on my studies,"
Blanchard said.

"I really love how the Charros are committed to education and teachers," she said.