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July 5, 2012
By Ben Lawson, media assistant
Northwest Missouri State University will offer a new scholarship in honor of Esther Forbes Knittl, a former Horace Mann Laboratory School teacher, in 2013.
Before embarking on a teaching career at Horace Mann that spanned nearly 40 years, Knittl graduated from Northwest in 1938 with a degree in elementary education and minors in English, social science and physical education.
After she passed away in June 2002, her children, Karol Frederichs, Suzette Davis and Jim Knittl, wanted to create a scholarship for a student who shares their mother’s love for teaching.
“She was a passionate teacher and believer in education, Davis said. “Nothing made her happier than being in her fourth grade Horace Mann classroom with her students and her student teachers. She loved it all, and especially teaching teachers to teach.”
Esther was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and her family moved to Maryville when she was at a young age. Her first teaching job was in a one-room schoolhouse south of Maryville. Davis remembers her mother describing how much she wanted her first job.
“She walked 10 miles to the head of the school board’s farm and stood in his field as he worked to ask for that job,” she said. “He gave her the job there and then, and she was responsible for everything at the school from teaching to tending to the horses the children traveled to school on, as well as cooking their lunch each day.”
Esther eventually went on to receive a master’s degree in early learning education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After that, she taught the fourth grade at Horace Mann until the end of her career.
“Our mother loved Maryville and was always so proud to be associated with Northwest and Horace Mann, Davis said. “She loved teaching students, and she loved working with the student teachers at the school.”
Esther pursued her master’s degree and a busy teaching career while raising three children. Davis recalls her grandmother, Harriet Forbes, helping care for her and her siblings while their parents worked.
“With the loving support of our father, Erwin, and grandma, my mom was able to fully pursue her beloved career and make the difference that she did for so many,” Davis said. “It was unusual at that time for women to have that chance. You could have one, but rarely both.”
The $500 scholarship will be awarded annually to a Northwest junior or senior elementary education major who shares Esther’s passion for teaching. Academic achievement and financial need also will be considered.
A committee of faculty members from the Department of Professional Education will choose the recipient.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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