HUNTINGTON, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- A Huntington middle school teacher is furthering her education, thanks to her colleague who is Indiana's teacher of the year.
"Educators are all about changing lives, and now I have the opportunity to potentially change Rochelle's life by giving her the gift of education," says Melanie Park.
As Indiana's teacher of the year, Melanie Park got to give a colleague the full-ride Teaching It Forward scholarship to the University of Phoenix.
So the reading specialist at Riverview Middle School in Huntington selected language arts teacher Rochelle Kennedy.
"Rochelle actually popped into my head right away. My son had Rochelle as a 7th grader, and the impact that I've been able to see her have on her students made me know right away that she is the perfect person for this wonderful award," Park says.
Kennedy began the 18-month online program this summer to pursue a Master's degree in psychology.
"I just thought, what would make me a better teacher? Learning how the students think, what makes them tick, learning more about the human brain and behaviors was really interesting to me and so I decided that would be a good fit," Kennedy says.
You might not think that a Master's degree in psychology would be a good fit for a teacher. But Melanie says it's actually perfect.
"She has demonstrated over and over what I have always said, is that students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," Park says.
Kennedy calls the $40,000 scholarship a priceless opportunity, and hopes to share her experience with her students.
"I am hoping that the full circle will be that I am able to pay forward the gift that Melanie has given me to my students, the community, fellow staff members and definitely to my family to show how much I appreciate their support," Kennedy says.
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