When it comes to supporting students, Harveys Aleppo Grange is willing to gamble. It’s a gamble that involves warm July evenings, bowls of dried corn and one very old picturesque hall at the Jacktown Fair.
“We wanted to do something to support students in the West Greene School District so we offered our first $500 scholarship award last year. The money comes exclusively from what the grange takes in doing bingo at the Jacktown Fair, so the whole community supports this scholarship when they come to the fair to play,” grange master Mary Jane Kent said.
“Jacktown Fair is July 13-19 and bingo starts Tuesday following the parade. Thursday is senior day, so bingo starts at 2 p.m. but otherwise it’s 6 p.m. when the rides start. We look forward to seeing you there,” Kent said.
That first award went to Jessica Black of Holbrook, who is now studying nursing at Waynesburg University and is part of the school’s track team.
This year’s $500 “bingo” scholarship went to Karley Isiminger of Bristoria, who answered the question “How has living in rural Western Greene County influenced your plans for the future? and what talents have you developed while going to school here that helped you choose the school you will be attending?”
“I would like to stay and teach locally where I grew up,” Isiminger noted in her winning essay. This tall, talented young woman with a vocal range broad enough to sing the Star Spangled Banner on graduation night, will be majoring in early childhood education at Waynesburg University in the fall. And, like her mom Tammy, she is looking forward to someday teaching in a school district that is small, progressive and student-friendly.
“A small school like West Greene gives students closer relationships with their teachers and peers. It helps students feel comfortable in the classroom and able to learn in a smaller classroom setting. I want to return to school as a reading specialist and work with special needs students,” she said.
Being the child of a teacher gave Isiminger opportunities to explore her own potential to be one.
“I was always one of those people that little children would come up and ask me to either help them or just play a game. My mom worked with children as a teacher and through her I was able to assist in the classrooms. By seventh grade I became a teacher assistant at my church.”
In high school, Isiminger’s volunteer time in her mom’s pre-K classroom helped her realize, “I enjoyed working with children and it was something that I wanted to continue to do. In my senior year I took the child development class that the school offered and learned how children develop and learn. I learned how to create lesson plans and how to carry them out. This helped me confirm my decision to major in early childhood education.”
Isiminger is happy she can continue teaching toddler Sunday school classes at the First Assembly of God Church in East View and be on the worship team there.
“I will continue to volunteer in the summer with the Bible school program, too. I chose Waynesburg University so I might continue to work in the church I grew up in.”
Getting accepted was only part of the task. Isiminger worked hard to get the scholarships needed to help pay for her schooling. She parlayed her 150 community service hours, good grades, extracurricular activities – she was head cheerleader and color guard her senior year - into seven scholarships, including this one.
“I’ll be living at home so that will help, too,” Isiminger said.
Now that she is on her way to college, Isiminger has time to reflect on the benefits of living in a small community, going to a country school, and why she dreams of teaching there.
“West Greene is a school that is working to advance education to a higher level of academic achievement. I want to help future generations achieve that higher level. I want to give all students as many new experiences and opportunities as I am capable of,” she said.
“In a small school I’ve found that students with special needs are accepted and treated with respect. Because we are a small community I see a lot of the students outside of school that I have worked with in the classroom. From volunteering with special needs students I’ve discovered that I have an appreciation for them and like helping them develop their full potential.”
As a teacher she wants to create an atmosphere where all students can work together with mutual respect and learn to value their education while also learning to build relationships, even with those who might seem different from them.
“Imagine a world where everyone can strive to be the best that they can be,” she said.