CHARLESTON, W.Va., July 13, 2020 — Emma Haley is thrilled to be an Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholar at West Liberty University. She is one of 25 high school seniors who graduated this year that were selected as West Virginia’s first Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars.
These students will receive the state’s newest and most prestigious scholarship of up to $10,000 per year – or $40,000 total – for their college education as they prepare to pursue rewarding careers as West Virginia teachers.
Haley graduated from St. Clairsville High School as salutatorian and plans to double major in early education and special education in WLU’s College of Education and Human Performance. Haley was a four-year member of the basketball and track and field team in high school and will be continuing her track career at WLU.
“I’m honored to be one of the first students from outside West Virginia to earn the scholarship,” Haley said.
The daughter of two WLU alumni, Debra Wheeler Haley and Patrick Haley, her mother is a teacher at Bethlehem Elementary School in Wheeling and is her inspiration.
“My mom’s the reason that I’m going into teaching, her love and dedication to her profession is inspiring,” Haley added. “But my dad is the one who came across the Underwood-Smith Scholars Program and encouraged me to apply.”
Her father earned a criminal justice degree at WLU and is employed by the state of Ohio.
“I’m incredibly proud of these young scholars, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish over the next four years and beyond,” said Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System.
“When we worked with the Legislature and Governor Justice last year to revamp this program, we knew we wanted to create a preeminent scholarship that would produce new generations of strong, committed teachers for years to come in the Mountain State. This cohort is just the beginning, and it’s certainly a bright one.”
“I am pleased to congratulate the inaugural class of Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars. Their interest in and commitment to education is commendable, and I know this scholarship is paving the way to build capacity among our teacher ranks,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “The challenges we face in filling content areas such as math, science and special education are very real. Programs such as this will assist us to meet the demand with a highly qualified corps of new teachers.”
This program – the first in the state to be open to a national applicant pool – is designed to help West Virginia address ongoing teacher shortages in the fields of math, science, special education and elementary education. Recipients commit to teaching in one of these high-demand fields in West Virginia for at least five years after graduation. To give students the greatest chance at success, each is paired with a practicing classroom teacher mentor, who will provide guidance throughout their college careers.
Other 2020 Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars, their high school and college include:
- Maggie Bailey, Wirt County High School, West Virginia University at Parkersburg
- Emily Barr, Nicholas County High School, Glenville State College
- Kailee Beckman, North Marion High School, Fairmont State University
- Olivia Burns, Hurricane High School, Marshall University
- Wiley Byers, Greenbrier East High School, Fairmont State University
- Payton Campbell, Lewis County High School, West Virginia Wesleyan College
- Kyler Carper, Wirt County High School, Fairmont State University
- Brooke Choiniere, Spring Mills High School, Fairmont State University
- Ashley Davis, Ritchie County High School, West Virginia University
- Samuel Dudgeon, Mount View High School, Ohio Valley University
- BreighAnne Glover, Hedgesville High School, Shepherd University
- Chase Haines, Spring Mills High School, West Virginia University
- Josie Hill, Point Pleasant High School, Glenville State College
- Somer Kerr, Philip Barbour High School, West Virginia University
- Stori Ketterman, Petersburg High School, Shepherd University
- Faith Lovejoy, Buffalo Putnam High School, West Virginia State University
- Jacob Massey, Sherman High School, West Virginia State University
- Emily McElwain, Greenbrier East High School, Concord University
- Sophia Miller, Parkersburg South High School, West Virginia University
- Megan Noss, Preston High School, West Virginia Wesleyan College
- Caroline Smith, Nicholas County High School, Concord University
- Mallori Straub, Morgantown High School, West Virginia University
- Isabella Vint, Scott High School, Marshall University
- Kensley White, Van Junior Senior High School, West Virginia State University
A virtual celebration of the scholars will be held on Wednesday, July 29 at 2:00 p.m. on Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/HEPCMediaCenter.
For rising high school seniors who want to become a teacher in West Virginia, applications open on July 15, 2020 for the 2021 cohort.
Visit underwoodsmith.org for more information. The Underwood-Smith award is stackable with other forms of financial aid. West Virginia residents who receive the PROMISE Scholarship as well ($4,750 per year) receive nearly $15,000 per year to help pay for college.