For the Love of Teaching
In 1928, Miss Grace Williams graduated from Southeast Missouri State Teachers College with a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of the teenagers whom she would teach. Ask most students who graduated from Cape Girardeau High School between the years 1928 and 1977, and they would say she succeeded in that quest.
Described as brilliant in her chosen field of mathematics, Miss Williams conveyed her knowledge of mathematics—indeed her true passion for this discipline—to thousands of students during her 49 years of teaching. She also co-authored a textbook on the subject that was subsequently used in high schools across the country.
Though diminutive compared to many of her students, Miss Williams dominated the classroom. She inspired many of her students to continue the study of mathematics, but her greatest impact was that she instilled a sense of self-discipline, respect for their teachers and fellow students, and a solid work ethic in all of her students.
While her career spanned nearly a half-century, she insisted that she could have taught a few more years. Indeed, even in her 90s, her intelligence and eagerness to learn and teach was undiminished.
Shortly before her death this past Christmas Day at the age of 96, Miss Williams chose to make an additional contribution to students of the future. She left her estate to her alma mater to establish an endowed scholarship for the College of Science and Mathematics. Her instructions state that the scholarship is to be given to a student who is seeking a degree in secondary education and majoring in mathematics.
"With the ever-increasing cost of a college education, scholarships like this are needed now more than ever before," according to Dr. Chris McGowan, Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. "Our students will benefit greatly in the years to come."
As her trusts states, "Our schools need good teachers, and this is particularly true in the field of mathematics and this is particularly true in our high schools." Miss Grace Williams has done her best, through her exceptional teaching career and her most generous bequest, to ensure that this need is met for future generations of students.