Supporting tomorrow’s students today

College of Education scholarships allow student teachers to fully invest in their experience

For Joel Marker, studying elementary special education, the many hours he has put into his education at Kansas State University have prepared him to teach students of his own. As a final preparation before he graduates in May 2021, Marker has opportunity to student teach in both a first grade and special education classroom.

During the student teaching experience, students in the College of Education collaborate with their cooperating teachers, observe how to handle situations, plan and implement lessons, and build relationships with the students. Eileen Wertzberger, coordinator in the Office of Field Experiences, works daily to place students in their student teaching assignments. Within her work, Wertzberger most enjoys getting to hear the different stories from student teachers about their field experiences.

“The most memorable stories are those in which student teachers speak from joy: when they identify moments of growth for themselves and their students; when they share the funny things their students say; when they brag about their students’ accomplishments and triumphs,” said Wertzberger.

Because student teachers devote their energy to working full-time in the classroom, they often cannot pursue an outside job. Student teachers face various expenses, such as traveling to school each day and purchasing professional clothing. When Debbie Mercer became the dean of the College of Education, she sought to focus on assisting students during their student teaching semester.

“Student needs during this semester were increasing. For example, student teachers were returning to campus to visit our food pantry,” said Mercer. “We began telling the story of student teaching. The long hours, the intensive workload, and the emotional pressure of assuming more and more student learning responsibility.”

Because of this great need, K-State’s College of Education now offers many scholarships to support student teachers in both elementary and secondary education. These scholarships aid in removing financial burdens so student teachers can focus on giving their all to their students, without having to work additional part-time jobs.

“Our donors understood and remembered their own sacrifices during this semester and have responded in amazing ways,” said Mercer. “Without philanthropic support, students would be stretched thin trying to manage the student teaching responsibilities and the financial demands of working fewer hours at an outside job to make ends meet.”

Throughout his college years, Marker has had to work consistently to cover the cost of schooling. However, with nearly a 10-hour time commitment each day, he is unable to continue working outside of his time in the classroom.

“It is really important to me personally to try to bring the best version of myself to school every day and it would be significantly harder to do this working at the school every day and then having to go to another job and working late every night just to pay my bills,” said Marker. “By receiving a scholarship during this semester, it not only lightens the emotional load, it also gives me the opportunity to stay after school and work with my cooperating teacher to get some very important and much needed behind-the-scenes prep that goes into the school day.”

Thanks to generous donor support, student teachers can fully invest in their experience and their students without unneeded stress.

“By donating to scholarships for student teachers, you truly are giving people the opportunity to pursue their dreams and also giving the students that they are serving the opportunity to have an engaged and locked-in student teacher, giving both parties their best chance of having a fun and educational semester,” said Marker.

To donate to the student teacher scholarship fund, please visit Kansas State University · GiveCampus or contact Matt LaGree at 785-775-2083 or

Written by: Ariana Brancato

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Matt LaGree Director of Development - Education