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Two UC Students Awarded $20,000 Each for Their Dedication to Young Children

A UC alumna’s legacy helps future teachers focus more on their studies rather than their finances.

Date: 6/16/2008
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Two University of Cincinnati seniors, both early childhood education majors, will each receive $20,000 from the Pearl M. Wright Award to pay for their tuition, fees and living expenses, in the spirit of the alumna who established the award to support future teachers that demonstrated they were “sensitive, loving and understanding of little children.”
Pearl Wright recipients
Crystal Runck, left, and Jessica Roflow

Jessica Roflow of Anderson Township and Crystal Runck of Colerain Township are the recipients of the 2008 Pearl M. Wright Award from the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH). Both plan to graduate in spring 2009.

Since 1999, this prestigious award has honored UC students in early childhood education who go above and beyond in their dedication to reaching out to the youngest learners. The award is from an endowment established by Kathryn E. Wright, named in memory of her sister, Pearl. Both women graduated from UC in the 1920s and dedicated their careers to teaching. The sisters shared a home in Clifton until Pearl M. Wright died in 1990 and Kathryn E. Wright died in 1996.

To be considered for the award, education students must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and show their involvement and commitment to the success of all young children. Roflow and Runck were selected from a pool of 21 applicants.

Jessica Roflow
Jessica Roflow

Jessica Roflow, Anderson Township, Ohio –
The 21-year-old early childhood education major says she “couldn’t imagine being in a job that didn’t involve helping children,” and that she chose her future profession because she wanted to lay the foundation for children’s future learning. Next fall, Roflow’s student teaching experience will be working with second-graders at Mariemont Elementary School.  Roflow says she chose UC’s teacher education program because of its emphases on gaining early and diverse teaching experiences for students. “By the time that I graduate, I will have had three different placements among different grade levels and different schools. As a result, I feel that I am really gaining a well-rounded education,” Roflow says. “For me, teachers made a huge difference and that’s what I hope to do, make a difference that will last a lifetime.” Roflow is vice president of the student organization, Students for the Education of Young Children. Her volunteer activities have included organizing a book drive for Schwab  School as well as activities with Crayons to Computers, a free store for teachers of needy students in the Cincinnati area. Roflow says the Pearl M. Wright Award will help her focus more on school and on being a better educator, rather than on financial worries over paying for her education and transportation. Roflow is a graduate of McNicholas High School.

Crystal Runck
Crystal Runck

Crystal Runck, Colerain Township, Ohio
– The 26-year-old early childhood education major first transferred from Cincinnati State to UC’s Raymond Walters College before pursing her bachelor’s degree from the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. “Teaching is always something I’ve wanted to do,” she says. “When I was a little girl, my dad built a schoolhouse for me in the backyard. It even had a blackboard! I always wanted to teach the three girls across the street, along with my brother, but back then I was pretty bossy. So, often, when they didn’t want to sit in the schoolhouse in the summer, I’d sit my dolls in the chairs to be my students,” she recalls, laughing. Runck’s student-teaching experience next fall will be at Holmes Elementary School in Deer Park. She adds that because of her UC teaching experiences with children with autism, she wants to pursue a master’s degree in special education. “This award is going to relieve so much stress going into my senior year,” says Runck, a graduate of Northwest High School. “This award will allow me to focus on my studies and my teaching experience and volunteer work. It’s a blessing in disguise.” Runck volunteers at Connections, which assists survivors of sexual abuse. She also volunteers for the Student Council for Exceptional Children. In addition, she and her husband, Tom, are active volunteers at their church, Northwest Vineyard Church in Colerain Township. Runck adds that the couple also walks every year in the MS Walkathon, ever since Tom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006. She says they plan to continue to walk every year to help support the cause and find a cure.

UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services is marking 103 years of service this year. The college prepares students to work in diverse communities, provides continual professional development and fosters educational leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.