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Mary Rohrscheib teaching scholarship celebrates past teachers and helps new ones

Woman shakes hands with man after receiving plaque
Mary Rohrscheib awarded Macon County Teacher of the Year for 1973.

A Bloomington attorney is honoring his grandmother's legacy by offering a scholarship for students pursuing a career in education.

The $1,000 scholarship is named after Mary Rohrscheib, a former third- and fourth-grade teacher at Maroa Forsyth Grade School. She died in April 2020.

Mary Rohrscheib
Mary Rohrscheib

After her death, her grandson Josh Rohrscheib, a personal injury attorney, received many phone calls from former students of Mary, telling Josh about the impact she had on them and sharing stories of their times in the classroom together. He said calls came from students that had her as long as 50 years prior to her passing.

That inspired him to create the Mary Rohrscheib Teaching Scholarship in 2020. Josh said it’s a way to pay tribute to his grandmother, and also to those both currently teaching and pursuing it.

“My grandma Mary was an incredibly kind, positive, warm and uplifting person. It was the joy of her life to be an educator,” Josh said. “I’m really grateful for her impact on my life. I wanted to find a way to do something positive in her memory that would also celebrate other teachers.”

The third year of the scholarship comes as the nation struggles with a teaching shortage. Josh calls the last few years “an extraordinarily difficult time for educators.”

He also said recognizing teachers’ contributions, which is the subject of the scholarship application essay, is one way to help. But he said there need to be more fundamental changes, too.

“I think we need to do more to recognize the teachers that make such a difference, and think about how we compensate them, how their benefits are structured, and find ways to help teachers more with their student loans,” Josh said. “Find ways to help incentivize people to stay in the classroom. Maybe even remove some barriers for people who have been in the workforce who maybe didn’t start out as teachers … and would have the desire to give back to their community by teaching a few classes.”

Applications are open now, and are due by July 17. The application comes in the form of a 750-word essay about a teacher that impacted the applicant’s life, and “the lessons they took with them from that teacher that they plan to pass on in their own career in education.”

Graduating high school seniors, college and graduate students pursuing becoming an educator can apply at rohrschieblaw.com/scholarship. The winner will be announced July 22, Mary Rohrscheib’s birthday.

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Jack Podlesnik is a student reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.
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