Author James Patterson creates MSU scholarship for urban teachers

June 5, 2012

Photo by Deborah Feingold

Best-selling author James Patterson is creating a scholarship program at Michigan State University to help prepare teachers ready to serve in urban areas.

His gift to the College of Education will provide $60,000 a year for students enrolled in the Urban Educators Cohort Program, a specialized teacher preparation track that begins during freshmen year.

“When I read about the excellent teaching programs at MSU’s College of Education and its Urban Educators Cohort, I hoped there would be an opportunity for me to help,” said Patterson, the writer of  well-known detective novels and several children’s books. “I wanted to give a hand to eager students who take on the challenge of becoming great teachers.”

The eight recipients of the James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarships will be selected this summer. Each will receive $7,500 a year for tuition starting with the fall semester.

“We are very excited to have James Patterson supporting our aspiring teachers,” said Donald E. Heller, dean of the College of Education. “While many may know of him because of his best-selling mystery novels, he has long been a supporter of literacy and education. This commitment of scholarships to the College of Education is an indication of how much he values helping to prepare the next generation of teachers.”

As incoming freshmen, all candidates for the scholarship must demonstrate potential to become leaders in urban education and select English or Language Arts as their teaching major or minor.

“We are quite appreciative of the fact that Mr. Patterson will be supporting future urban educators who can make an impact in the critical area of literacy development,” said Assistant Dean Sonya Gunnings-Moton, who oversees urban education programs in the College of Education. “His investment supports our commitment to preparing teachers for the highest needs in schools.”

Patterson and his wife Susan have funded various scholarship programs at the institutions from which they graduated, Manhattan College, Vanderbilt University and University of Wisconsin. He said he decided to explore an investment at MSU because of its strong reputation for teacher education.

The Urban Educators Cohort Program, now entering its seventh year, is one of several initiatives in the College of Education designed to prepare students for the unique challenges of working in urban areas. Cohort members spend their first two years at MSU (before entering the formal teacher preparation program) visiting urban classrooms and taking specialized courses together.