2024 IRTA Foundation Area Scholarship Recipients

The IRTA Foundation awards six $2,000 scholarships to incoming juniors or seniors in college that are pursuing a degree in education. Thanks to a very generous private donation from one of our members, Areas 4 and 6 each will award a second scholarship of $3,000. The eight winners were chosen through competition with other applicants from their own area of the state.

The IRTA Foundation congratulates all of the recipients and wishes them the best of luck!

2024 Area Foundation Scholarship Recipients

Ashlyn Kratochvil

The Area 1 recipient is Ashlyn Kratochvil of Fairbury, IL. Ashlyn attends Illinois State University where she is majoring in Elementary Education. She comes from a long line of educators and aspires to continue their tradition and honor their work by becoming an educator as well. Ashlyn’s goal is not only to prepare her students for success in the classroom but also teach them skills for success beyond.

Vania Chavez-Medina

The Area 2 recipient is Vania Chavez-Medina of South Elgin, IL. Vania will be a junior in the fall and attends Illinois State University. She is majoring in Elementary Education/Bilingual Teacher Education. Vania is a first-generation college student. She has been raised with setting education as a priority and being an educator has been her most desired ambition. As a Bilingual teacher, she wants to help students embrace the beauty of their language and teach students a new language as well.

Anabella Chlada

The Area 3 recipient is Anabella Chlada of Darien, IL. She attends Illinois State University where she will be an incoming junior. She is majoring in Special Education and is striving to become a high school Special Education teacher. Volunteering is a key value of Anabella’s, and she engages in organizations that serve populations from young children to veterans. While succeeding academically is important, she believes the impact she is leaving on her community is an even more important aspect of her identity.

Emma Hays

The Area 4 recipient is Emma Hays of Jacksonville, IL. Emma will be an incoming senior at Illinois College where she is studying Elementary Education. Emma’s hope is that her students will be excited about school and excited to learn. She believes that being a teacher can be the most rewarding job and it will allow her to make a difference in her student’s lives.

Wiat Miller

The Area 4 additional scholarship recipient is Wiat Miller of Beason, IL. Wiat attends Heartland Community College where he will earn his associate degree. In the fall, he will be an incoming Junior at Illinois State University where he has been accepted into the History-Social Sciences Teacher Education program. Wiat’s goal is to be a Secondary History teacher at his local high school and to serve his community by volunteering at the local fire department.

Alexis Wehrle

The Area 5 recipient is Alexis Wehrle of Vandalia, IL. She currently attends Kaskaskia College where she will earn her associate degree. Alexis will be an incoming junior in the fall at Greenville University where she is pursuing a degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in Physical Education. Her future goal is to further her education by earning a master’s degree in education. Alexis dreams of being a teacher and a coach since during the summer she assists with her hometown high school volleyball team.

Raylynn Sander

The Area 6 recipient is Raylynn Sander of Jamestown, IL. Raylynn attended Kaskaskia College before transferring to Greenville University to major in Secondary Education with a minor in Spanish and a concentration in English Language Arts. Her mother is a middle school teacher, so she understands the sacrifices that come with being an educator. Raylynn wants to perpetuate and instill a love of learning in every single one of her students and is willing to put in the work to make this a reality.

Alexander Beckham

The recipient of the additional scholarship in Area 6 is Alexander Beckham of Woodlawn, IL. Alex attended Rend Lake College where he earned his associate degree. He will be an incoming senior at McKendree University where he is majoring in Physical Education. As a physical education instructor, he wants to share his passion for fitness while teaching about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Upon graduation he hopes to return to southern Illinois to teach and coach either golf or basketball.

2024 Moler-Austin Scholarship Recipients

The Moler-Austin Scholarship is available through the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation. Two scholarships of $4,500 are awarded to Kendall County high school graduates pursuing a degree in education. This scholarship is available because of a generous gift from deceased IRTA member Identa Austin. Identa donated eighty acres of land to the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation, and the profits from the sale of that land are used to fund the Moler-Austin scholarship.

This scholarship is advertised in all the local papers in Kendall County. The ad runs the last week of December and the first week of January so students that are home for Winter Break will see the advertisement.

The 2024 recipients are:

Sydney Reppy

Sydney Reppy of Yorkville, IL is a 2021 graduate of Minooka Community High School. Sydney attended Joliet Junior College where she earned an associate degree. She is currently enrolled at DePaul University where she will graduate next May with her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, English. Sydney’s future goal is to further her education and earn a master’s degree while working as a teacher.

Kaylie McClung

Kaylie McClung of Yorkville, IL graduated in 2023 from Yorkville High School. Kaylie attends Waubonsee Community College and in the fall will be a Junior at Northern Illinois University where she will be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. Her mother is a second-grade teacher, and by seeing firsthand the impact she makes on her students has inspired Kaylie to become a teacher as well.

2024 Additional Foundation Scholarships

The Helen Kennedy Scholarship awards $2,000 to an incoming sophomore, junior, or senior in college. The student must be enrolled in an accredited teacher education program and a graduate of an Illinois High School. This very generous donation was made in memory of former educator Helen Kennedy.

The 2024 recipient of the Helen Kennedy Scholarship is:

Sydney Kozlowski

Sydney Kozlowski is a 2021 graduate of Schaumburg High School. She is an incoming senior at Illinois State University where she is majoring in Physical Education with a Health Endorsement. Her goal is to help students become more skillful in physical activity and to increase their confidence to help them enjoy becoming lifelong movers.

The Rose Sandstrom scholarship awards $2,000 to one full-time student entering their senior year of college with a declared major in Physical Education. Rose was a member of IRTA and President of her local Warren County RTA. She established the criteria for her scholarship and her spouse and sons initiated the start upon her death in November 2022.  The recipient must be enrolled at Monmouth College or Western Illinois University.

The 2024 recipient of the Rose Sandstrom Scholarship is:

Jennifer Shimmin

Jennifer Shimmin is from Monmouth, IL. She graduated in 2021 from United High School in Monmouth and is currently an incoming senior at Monmouth College where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a Public Health minor. Jennifer is honored to be the recipient of the Rose Sandstrom Scholarship and to continue the legacy of teaching that Rose influenced in so many educators.