As scholarship coordinator in the Teacher Education Department at Fort Lewis College, I’d like to acknowledge with appreciation and gratitude the contribution made to our students and to our program by the late Roberta Barr. In conversations with Barr, she remarked that she established her scholarship because at a key moment in her own youth – at that point of extremes when it seemed she would have to quit her college studies for lack of money and support – someone reached out a helping hand to help her. This help changed her life, changed the course of her fate and changed the fate of many of us here in our department. That gift of fate was what she wanted to provide again and again to our students of teaching.
Barr awarded FLC students close to $250,000 in the last 15 years, in portions of no less than $750, and often as much as $2,000, a semester per student. Many were the years when the total support to multiple awardees was upward of $30,000. These gifts did change lives, do so now and will continue to do so in perpetuity.
Perhaps Barr was truly “old school” (if we’ll pardon that cliché). She taught in one-room schoolhouses. She shoveled coal and snow. A story is told that she occasionally had to shoo bears away from school grounds. She was firm, demanding and determined in the classic sense. It must also be said that Barr was “new school” – a model for brand-new teachers – in that she engaged the world with her work. She represented and continues to prove a model for the self-motivated, multitalented and universal educator. Barr taught everyone she came to know: students, parents, colleagues and administrators, up and down a vertical continuum. By the grace of her financial support of our students, she will assist future teachers along a horizontal spectrum into time, into the future. Her work moves back and forward in time, backward in fond stories, forward in unending influence.
William Arthur Camp