Being a 1966 Idaho State University College of Education alumnus, Rita Haggardt always wanted to stay involved with her alma mater and make a difference in students’ lives. As a way to honor her late husband, Terry L. Haggardt, Rita established an endowment in 2017 in his name and did so on her retired teacher’s salary.
Five years later, the Terry L. and Rita Haggardt Scholarship Endowment officially reached $20,000.
This scholarship endowment is awarded to Idaho State University’s College of Education students to help defray the cost of their education. “We both had a great experience here,” explains Rita. “I give because I hope that I can continue to help others join me in this most rewarding profession.”
In 1961, Rita began her journey at Idaho State University where she met her future husband, Terry L. Harrgardt, who was also a student majoring in secondary education at the College of Education. Rita received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 1969 and became the first woman in her family to earn a college degree. Rita and her parents, who immigrated from Greece, were extremely proud of this accomplishment.
“After graduation, my father introduced me to his friends not by my name but as, ‘my daughter, the teacher,’” Rita said.
Following their graduation from Idaho State University’s College of Education, Rita taught at Syringa Elementary School in Pocatello for 32 years, while Terry taught at Tyhee Elementary, Lewis and Clark Elementary, Indian Hills Elementary, and Hawthorne Middle School in Pocatello until his passing in 1998.
Both Terry and Rita were active in the Pocatello Education Association, each serving as president. They also were members of the board of the Idaho Education Association where Terry served as president. Terry was a veteran who served in the Army and was active in the ROTC.
“My parents taught me the rewards of volunteerism in her faith as well as in the community,” Rita said.
After Terry’s passing and following her retirement in 2002, Rita continued her commitment to education by volunteering to work with student teaching interns in the College of Education for another 13 years. Many of the College of Education interns Rita mentored during this time were her former elementary students from Syringa Elementary School.
The $20,000 Terry L. and Rita Haggardt Scholarship Endowment has been funded entirely through Rita’s retired teacher’s income. “As a first-generation student, I am appreciative of the opportunity I was offered by ISU back in 1961-66,” says Rita, “ISU has been an important part of my life and I like what the College of Education is doing now.” While Rita notes that, relatively speaking, teachers do not earn high salaries, she believes it is a truly rewarding career with many benefits. She encourages all future teachers to get to know their students and their families.
The College of Education’s Dean Jean McGivney-Burelle recently interviewed Rita for the Inspiring Educators radio show on KISU. Rita talked more about her experience as an educator and the memories Terry’s students have shared with her. McGivney-Burelle also interviewed the 2022 Terry L. and Rita Haggardt Scholarship recipient, Cheri Kerr. Inspiring Educators airs on the last Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. on KISU 91.1. Past episodes of KISU are available on KISU.org and spotify. You can listen to January’s episode of Inspiring Educators featuring Rita and Cheri here: https://www.kisu.org/podcast/inspiring-educators.
In addition to her endowment, Rita has been recognized for her volunteerism at Idaho State University. Rita has received various awards throughout the years which include the 2016 College of Education Distinguished Bengal Partner Award and the 2019 William J. Bartz Award presented by Idaho State’s Alumni Association. Rita is currently active in Kiwanis, Zonta, Delta Kappa Gamma, NAACP, American Legion Auxiliary, LWV, AAUW, AOII Alumnae, a Pocatello Chief and P.E.O. Chapter K. She also volunteers for ISU Credit Union Supervisory Committee and is a member of the South East Idaho Retired Educators Association.
To learn more about the Terry L. and Rita Haggardt Scholarship Endowment or ways that you can give to the College of Education, please visit https://www.isu.edu/education/ways-to-give-/.