Gladys M. Stern Scholarship in Elementary Education
Gladys M. Stern, or "Glady," as she was known by her family, taught elementary school to three generations of children during her 42 years of teaching in Seymour, Wis. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the Wisconsin State College at Oshkosh in 1961, and devoted her life to education and community service.
She was honored in 1983 as Seymour’s Outstanding Citizen. In 1990 she was recognized by AARP for “Outstanding Service to the Community” and received special commendation as one of Wisconsin’s “Ten Most Admired Senior Citizens.”
Stern passed away in 2003 at the age of 91. Having no children of her own, her will included generous bequests to her many nieces and nephews. Her nephew, Dr. James Zuiches, suggested that he and his cousins contribute toward a scholarship fund in their beloved Aunt Glady’s name. Zuiches was at that time Dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at Washington State University. His extensive background in higher education and philanthropy (he previously served as a W. K. Kellogg Foundation program officer) may have predisposed him to such an idea, but it was his love and respect for his aunt and her life long commitment to education and community service that spurred him to action. He personally wrote to his cousins, encouraging them to “do something that honors [Stern’s] life as a teacher and continues in perpetuity the generosity she has shown to us.”
Zuiches’ cousins responded enthusiastically and generously. Their contributions were accompanied by notes expressing their hopes that the fund would “help worthy young students become elementary school teachers” or “help some worthy student to finish their degree and inspire others to learn.” Another simply asked that her gift be added to the scholarship fund “in my dearest aunt’s name.”
The fund, which continues to receive periodic contributions, now totals more than $17,000. It was created “in memory of a truly remarkable woman who loved young people, learning, travel and her community. Always enthusiastic, undaunted by illness and adversity, she is a great role model for young people and teachers everywhere.” The endowment supports an annual scholarship for elementary education majors with financial need. Preference is given to graduates of Seymour High School, as well as other Wisconsin residents.
Zuiches is now Vice Chancellor for Extension, Engagement and Economic Development at North Carolina State University and remembers his Aunt Glady fondly: “She gave to her students, to her community and then to us. When we reminisced about this wonderful woman, we decided to create a permanent legacy that would extend her giving and help other students become teachers. In every university that I have worked at, scholarships have been so important to so many students, it was only appropriate to set up the scholarship at UW Oshkosh, which gave her the gift of a great education. I think of Aunt Glady every year when we get the letter of thanks from the student who received the scholarship. We know her spirit of generosity will live on in these future teachers.”