Soon-to-Be Teacher Awarded Inaugural Helen Kennedy Scholarship

Springfield, IL – Grace Hoppe, a bright and promising student at Illinois State University, has been named the first-ever recipient of the Helen Kennedy Scholarship, an initiative of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation.

The scholarship, designed to support the education of future teachers, was created in memory of the late Helen Kennedy, a dedicated educator from Freeport School District 145. As the inaugural recipient, Hoppe was awarded $2,000 to further her studies in Middle Level Education with endorsements in Math and English Language Arts.

Hoppe, a sophomore at Illinois State University, is already making a name for herself in the field of education. A 2021 graduate of Springfield High School, she has demonstrated a passion for education that embodies the spirit of the Helen Kennedy Scholarship. After her graduation, Hoppe plans to return to Springfield District 186 to contribute to the district that nurtured her love for education.

When asked about her ambitions, Hoppe explained her desire to foster a supportive environment for her future students. “I want my students to feel loved every time they enter my classroom,” she said. This sentiment echoes the kindness, love, and compassion that Hoppe herself experienced with her first-grade teacher – an experience that prompted her decision to pursue a career in education.

In an unexpected and generous turn, the scholarship award was supplemented with additional funds from the estate of Jane Bachman, the late wife of Jim Bachman, Executive Director of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. The additional contribution came as a surprise to Hoppe, reflecting the organization’s deep commitment to nurturing future educators.

Bachman spoke fondly of his late wife’s wish to give back to education. After reading Hoppe’s application and essay, he knew that she was the perfect candidate to honor with the funds from Jane’s estate. “I felt that after reading Grace’s essay and knowing her a little bit, the additional funds would help Grace fulfill her education and her love for teaching. This fits what Jane would have wanted the money to go to,” Bachman stated.

As the world of education continues to evolve, the Helen Kennedy Scholarship stands as a beacon of hope for those who aspire to be educators. Hoppe’s story serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and the influence a devoted teacher can wield in shaping the lives of students.

In the words of Hoppe herself, “I am passionate about education and making a difference in the lives of my students.” As she moves forward in her journey, Grace Hoppe symbolizes a bright future for education, embodying the legacy of Helen Kennedy and the hopes of Jane Bachman.