TIPTON, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — The newest group of Corridor high school seniors received their diplomas Sunday. Dozens of Tipton Tigers will now go their separate ways, exploring a future that is wide open with endless opportunities. Those students got a unique head start on their life-long journey thanks to two selfless, dedicated and caring volunteers.
“I remember preschool graduation and everyone’s like, ‘oh, what do you want to be?’ and I’ve wanted to be a teacher since then,” said Allison Ryan, 18. “At preschool graduation I was holding up a sign that said I wanted to be a teacher!”
And now Ryan will pursue that dream at the University of Iowa, studying elementary education.
Meanwhile, back on the farm—
“At first I actually started out just wanting to be a doctor but then I was like, I really don’t want to go away from my AG background,” said Logan Hoffman, a fellow Tipton graduate who will study animal science at Iowa State University with hopes of becoming a veterinarian.
And then there’s 18 year old Zoe Rezac who will start her medical career at the University of Northern Iowa before joining the U.S. Navy. “The plan is to go overseas and be a pediatric nurse on a base,” explained Rezac.
All three of these Tipton High School graduates recently had a mini-reunion with two very special people in their lives. Thirteen years ago, school volunteers Kevin and Sandy Gleaves of Tipton adopted the students’ kindergarten class and never left.
“I was in education for 37 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said retired Tipton Superintendent Dick Grimoskas. He explained how the Gleaves became mentors several times a week, year after year after year; Kevin helping with science and math, Sandy with reading and basic skills. They took the kids on field trips and offered assistance in any way needed.
“Kevin and Sandy decided to become a part of these kids’ lives in a very positive way. I think it’s a tremendous example for people,” Grimoskas said.
As Rezac explained, “It was kind of like they were almost second grandparents because we did a lot of the same things that I would do with mine.”
“We always knew that we could count on them and they were there so often early in our education,” added Hoffman.
“First grade, second grade, third grade, they’re still with us,” recalled Ryan. “You would always have those helpers that would come in for a week or so or whatever. But they were with us all the time.”
And here’s where the story really pays off. Just before their freshman year, the entire unsuspecting class and their parents were called to a meeting. The Gleaves had started a scholarship fund that now totals roughly $800,000.
Grimoskas described the initial response: “It was a stunned silence.”
Seventy students would each receive about $1,000 for every year they completed in the Tipton School District.
“I mean it wasalmost like awe struck,” said vet hopeful Hoffman. “You didn’t even know what to think because they weren’t just there just to help you. That they were going to help you even past high school.”
“Everyone was crying, my mom was crying, everyone was crying,” recalled future teacher Ryan who said her $13,000 scholarship means even more to her now than when she first heard about it in 8th grade. “It pays for a whole year for my schooling which is awesome!”
The money will go directly to the institution the student has chosen whether that’s a trade school, college or university. There is a lot of flexibility and they have six years to spend it.
“Maybe they want to spend it all their freshman year or maybe they want to extend it over all four or five years of their education. However they choose to spend it, that’s their decision,” Grimoskas said.
Future nurse Rezac summed it all up in one enthusiastic statement. “I’m getting closer now to college and I’m just like, thank you so much!”
The Gleaves declined our request for an interview; they want the focus to be on the students.
Any money left over from the scholarship fund will go to the Tipton School Foundation.