The Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation has awarded the second annual Gee Scholarship of $2,000 to help provide programs and equipment in the Shenandoah High School business education department, which is headed by veteran business and computer instructor Liz Skillern.
The scholarship was made possible by the donation of $20,000 to the foundation in late 2017 from the family of Anne B. Gee, who taught business courses at SHS for 35 years before her retirement in 1991, then her death in the summer of 2017.
The first Gee Scholarship from the foundation was awarded in the summer of 2018 to an individual, Loren Brady, a 2015 SHS graduate who was entering her senior year at Missouri University of Science and Technology, where she was majoring in computer science and computer engineering.
Instructor Liz Skillern, who heads the business education department at Shenandoah High School, receives the $2,000 Gee Scholarship from Duane Rexroth, a former SHS teacher and coach who now is on the board of the Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation.
“The rules of the Gee Scholarship are written that the foundation can award individual college scholarships to students in business-related fields, like we did last year with Loren, or we can fund programs and equipment for the overall business education program at the high school, like we’re doing now,” said Duane Rexroth, a member of the foundation’s scholarship committee. “This year, we wanted to convey to the community that the foundation serves more than just individuals. It’s an ‘and/or’ type of thing.”
Skillern, who just finished her 22nd year teaching at Shenandoah High, wrote a proposal to use the Gee Scholarship for several purposes:
--Buying an online program “Code Combat” that teaches coding & programming in several different computer languages.
--One-day field trips for seniors studying business to large companies in Omaha, Des Moines and locally in a program Skillern calls “All Aspects of Industry.” The students would learn how many different kinds of jobs are available in large firms, no matter what the company’s primary business is.
--Purchasing a new Microsoft Surface Pro computer that “is more mobile, flexible with software, and has more of the latest technology than our current computers have,” as Skillern put it. This computer, probably a laptop, will be used in several classes, including desktop publishing. And it will also be used in robotics competitions in which the SHS “Business Professionals of America” students have excelled.
Instructor & coach Liz Skillern, wearing the black vest, stands in the middle of her "Mechanical Mustangs" in last year's robotics competition.
Skillern’s proposal not only found favor with the foundation’s scholarship committee, but also with Anne Gee’s family.
“Mom would be thrilled knowing her gift will improve the knowledge and skills of so many students,” said Jill Gee Polk, Anne’s daughter who lives in Redmond, Wash. Another daughter Carol Gee Zarbock also lives there. The “Gee girls” graduated from SHS in the early 1970s.
Corby Fichter, president of the education foundation, said he “would like to congratulate Liz Skillern as this year’s Gee Scholarship winner. This scholarship will enhance new learning opportunities for some of our high school students in the business education department. We really appreciate the Gee family making this scholarship possible for our teachers and students.”
The Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation is a 501.c3 non-profit corporation, founded in 2016, to build an endowment to enhance educational opportunities for students and alumni of the Shenandoah Community Schools. It has received nearly $100,000 in donations, which have included several larger donations as well as annual memberships in the “$100 Club.” The foundation is governed by an 11-member board, about half of whom are SHS alumni, with all board members being active advocates for the school district’s communities.