Janesville73°

Minority teacher program gets boost

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 2, 2008
— A new player stepped up to the plate in the Janesville philanthropy game on Friday.

This rookie has done great things in other leagues, and he showed promise in his first at-bat in Janesville.


Quint Studer and his wife, Rishy, of Pensacola, Fla., donated $40,000 to the new Minority Recruitment Initiative for Janesville public schools.


The school district held a press conference Friday to announce the donation and thank Studer.


This first large donation to the project means that students going to college this fall can become part of an ambitious plan to increase the number of teachers of color in the school district, said Janesville School Board member Tim Cullen.


Studer made it clear that he’s just getting warmed up.


“Certainly, we don’t think this is the last donation in Janesville,” he said. “We think this is just the beginning.”


Studer, now a Florida resident, worked as a special-education teacher at Parker High School and as an executive for Mercy Hospital before moving on. His ties to the City of Parks remain strong. He has four grandchildren here, and he and his wife own a house here.


Studer made his fortune in health-care consulting, and he is no newcomer to giving money away. He and Rishy have been funding scholarships in Florida for years, he said.


Asked how much he contributes, Studer rattled off several hundred thousand dollars worth of donations just this month to a hospice, a center for treating autistic children and a university.


Studer said he approached Janesville public schools Superintendent Tom Evert about making a scholarship contribution, and Evert recommended the minority recruitment program.


Studer said he was impressed with the idea and also the fact that its originator is Tim Cullen, someone he has known and respected for many years.


Studer said he also is dedicated to the program’s cause: “I think diversity creates strength.”


Cullen launched the plan last year. The idea is that Janesville students of color who go on to get teaching degrees would be offered grants to pay off their educational expenses if they get jobs teaching in Janesville and agree to stay here for a number of years.


Studer noted that similar plans have helped elsewhere with nursing and doctor shortages. He said he liked the idea that his money would go to work right away.


Cullen said that until Studer stepped forward, he wasn’t sure that the program would get off the ground this year. Now, he said, it’s a sure thing.


Readers may recall that Studer’s company, The Studer Group, is donating its services in an effort to create a climate of excellence in the Janesville School District.


Studer said the value of those services is $1.2 million.


“My wife and I, by the grace of God, have been very, very fortunate, and we’re fortunate to be able to share those blessings with other people,” Studer said.


PROGRAM DETAILS


The Minority Recruitment Initiative proposes a privately funded effort to home-grow Janesville residents of color into Janesville School District teachers. The program’s details haven’t been fully worked out, said the program’s initiator, Tim Cullen.


Here are a few details, according to Cullen:


The problem—Racial inequality. About 17 percent of the school district’s enrollment is minorities, while about 0.5 percent of teachers are minorities. Past recruiting efforts have not changed the situation.


“The picture of the students of Janesville should basically look like a picture of the teachers, and today, that’s not true,” Cullen said.


The solution—Recruit Janesville students of color to get teaching degrees. Those who accept teaching jobs here would be offered a deal: Stay here for an as-yet undetermined number of years, and in return, private donations would pay off their educational expenses.


The funding—No tax dollars, only private money. Cullen said he has pledges of support from four other sources, some of whom are considering contributions over a number of years. Friday’s announcement was the first publicly announced donation.


Administration—The Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin will manage the donations and legal aspects such as tax-deductibility. A board of directors is expected to be announced soon.


Prediction—‘It’s an exciting thing which I absolutely believe is going to work,” Cullen said.



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