As Earle Bidwell ’71 sees it, his job as a University of Connecticut Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) clinical supervisor is to lead by example and help students working to become a principal, vice principal, department head or other school administrator see their strengths and “bring out all they have to offer.”
This kind of dedication and willingness to always go above and beyond deserve more than a thank-you card or plaque, said former UCAPP student Hannah Ruede, which is why she and the 12 other UCAPP East 21 cohort members who graduated in May established the Earle G Bidwell Educational Leadership Scholarship.
The scholarship provides $500 to a graduate student enrolled in one of the Neag School of Education’s Educational Leadership programs and shows both academic achievement and financial need. Priority is given to students enrolled in the rigorous, two-year UCAPP program that provides students with not just classroom and curriculum laboratory learning, but 90-hours-per-semester internships with a mentor administrator.
Like Ruede, more than 80 percent of those who’ve completed UCAPP give it an “A” for the professional learning, growth, management skills, collaboration tools and intellectual introspection they received from instructors like Bidwell.
“His titles are ‘supervisor’ and ‘advisor,’ but he provides students with so much more than what those titles define. He’s supportive, compassionate, there whenever you need him, and brings a wealth of information and experience,” said Ruede, an alternative education and science teacher at Windsor High School still deciding how she wants to use the Sixth-Year Diploma and Connecticut State Certification as Intermediate Administrators (CT-092) she achieved from her UCAPP experience.
“Earle is so committed to education and to helping educators discover their strengths and talents,” Ruede continued. “He was always telling us, ‘It’s OK if you try something new and fail. But if you don’t try new things, you’re never going to grow.’ He made each of us want to achieve our best; to never let him down.”
Bidwell said he can’t think of many things more rewarding than the work he does with UCAPP or as assistant executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS). Both jobs require him to use his close to 50 years in education to help current and emerging administrators inspire and lead, as well as to identify and provide needed supports and services.
“The ability to work with and influence administrators is such a privilege, because it’s such important work,” said Bidwell, who started his career in 1964 as a music teacher. After receiving both his master’s and Sixth-Year Diploma from UConn, he spent five years as a high school assistant principal and 19 years as a middle school principal. He’s also a former CAS president.
News that the UCAPP Class of 2012 cohort had created the Earle G Bidwell Educational Leadership Scholarship left him speechless, he said.
“Generally a person who’s honored in this way is no longer living, so this is truly an honor,” explained Bidwell, who’s taught with UCAPP for eight years. “I get the chance to enjoy it and to see students benefitting from it, because for many students enrolled in Neag Educational Leadership programs, the workload and finances can be a struggle. Most work full time, as well as have family responsibilities. But truly, it’s my privilege to work with them. In fact, I still work with many students from previous cohorts, doing everything I can to ensure they continue to grow, develop and succeed. I can’t think of too many things more rewarding.”
The first $500 Earle G Bidwell Educational Leadership Scholarship was awarded this past April to current East 23 cohort member Jennifer Geragotelis. Ruede said the goal of the cohort who started the scholarship is to eventually increase the amount given, but first an additional $3,000 to officially endow the scholarship needs to be raised. Fund-raisers organized by Ruede and her cohort helped raise the $7,000 that currently sits in the Bidwell scholarship account, but for the scholarship to become permanently endowed, it needs to be at $10,000 by October.
Donations to the Earle G Bidwell Educational Leadership Scholarship can be made through the UConn Foundation.
“We’re pretty confident we can make it happen and hopeful that others who have been positively affected by Earle and UCAPP will consider giving,” Ruede added. “So much of what we learn from UCAPP are lessons that can’t be learned in a book. They can only be learned from seasoned educators who, like Earle, tell it like it is, are tough when they need to be, and make you want to do your best. Earle emulates everything a teacher and administrator should be.”
For more information, including how to contribute, on the Earle G. Bidwell Educational Leadership Scholarship, contact Heather McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 486-4530.