Friday, June 5, 2015

The Dorothy and Elbert Carpenter Family scholarship

Tonight, the first Dorothy and Elbert Carpenter Family Scholarship will be awarded to a graduate of Maple Valley High School, through the scholarship foundation my grandparents worked so hard to establish. For each named scholarship, the family donating the money can give a note to the scholarship recipient telling a little about the person their scholarship was named for. The following message is what I wrote on behalf of our family. 

For Dorothy Carpenter, teaching was more than a profession. It was a lifestyle. After graduating from Albion College, she started a teaching career that gave her the chance to teach around mid-Michigan, including the sleepy farming community of Waldron where she met her eventual husband Elbert.

When her father became too ill to tend to his farm alone, Dorothy and Elbert moved back to the family farm, and she began teaching at Maple Valley High School. She was purposefully a tough teacher because she believed every person in her classroom deserved the best possible education to prepare them for life after high school.

While back in Vermontville, Elbert settled into a career with the Grand Trunk Railroad. He was a dedicated member of the Brotherhood of the Railway, Airline, and Steamship Clerks, eventually serving as the General Secretary and Treasurer of the BRAC. He was especially fond of his service to the BRAC, in particular his role in negotiating contracts, because he wanted to ensure a fair deal for his members.

Vermontville, and the Vermontville United Methodist Church were never far from their minds. Countless kids who wanted to go to church or band camps but didn’t have the funds were given anonymous donations to make sure they could attend. Dorothy faithfully played the organ and/or piano every Sunday morning until her arthritis made it too difficult to carry on.

After retiring as an English teacher at MVHS, Dorothy’s dedication to teaching and the community she loved guided her to found the Maple Valley Memorial Scholarship Foundation with her good friend Junia Jarvey, herself a newly retired teacher from the Valley.

With the support of their husbands, Dorothy and Junia guided the scholarship through several Kiss-The-Pig fundraisers and attended as many alumni events as humanly possible in order to raise money and awareness for the scholarships. As retired educators, they also took the time to mentor other scholarship boards so students from around the state could have a shot at earning much-needed scholarship money.

One principle they always worked toward was making sure the most deserving, regardless of grades or class standing, had the opportunity to earn a scholarship. Part of the reason scholarships are awarded to MV graduates attending trade schools is to make sure they were honoring that principle.

Our family is proud of the service Dorothy and Elbert gave to the community they loved so much. We are excited their memory will last through the MVMSF, and their story told to deserving MV graduates, like you.