$1 million endowment will boost teaching of children with special needs
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A mother‚Äôs memory of her late daughter, whose passion was teaching children with special needs, will live on and support students seeking advanced degrees in special education at the University of Florida, thanks to provisions made in her estate.
The university‚Äôs College of Education has received a gift of nearly $1 million from the estate of Anola (Ann) Hendrick of Augusta, Ga., to establish the Gail Hendrick Endowment in Special Education. Gail, a 1978 UF master‚Äôs graduate in special education, taught middle school students with emotional and behavioral problems for more than 20 years in Augusta before her death in 2007 at age 59.
Ann Hendrick‚Äôs donation came in the form of a bequest in her will. After her recent death at age 94, $925,000 from her estate passed to the College of Education to fund the scholarship endowment in her daughter‚Äôs memory. Ann‚Äôs husband, Peter, who was Gail‚Äôs father, passed away in 2008.
The endowment will generate about $36,000 in yearly interest, which will be used ‚Äúto develop the next generation of leaders in the science and practice of special education.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThere is a critical shortage of qualified special education professionals in Florida and across the nation,‚ÄĚ said Jean Crockett, director of the College of Education‚Äôs school of special education, school psychology and early childhood studies. ‚ÄúThe Gail Hendrick endowment can be a ‚Äėgame changer‚Äô in addressing that.‚ÄĚ
UF‚Äôs special education program consistently ranks among the top five nationally in the U.S. News and World Report‚Äôs annual survey of ‚ÄúAmerica‚Äôs Best Graduate Schools.‚ÄĚ Besides preparing new teachers, the graduate program focuses heavily on federally funded research and professional development designed to improve teacher retention and instruction in special education.
Crockett said her faculty will decide whether to split the endowment earnings into several smaller scholarships, or create one large ‚Äúsuper scholarship.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúExperienced educators could then afford to leave their teaching job and return to graduate school to advance their knowledge and teaching practice,‚ÄĚ Crockett said. ‚ÄúThe many years that Gail Hendrick devoted to working with public school students with the most severe emotional and behavioral difficulties will be an inspiration to our students.‚ÄĚ