The Challenge: Teacher Education

The Challenge: Teacher Education

By Amy Blakely

An anonymous donor has made a $1-million challenge to raise money to provide financial assistance to students enrolled in the teacher internship program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The donor, a longtime supporter of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, has offered to give $1 million in memory of the late J. Clayton Arnold if the college can collect at least $1 million in contributions from other supporters.

The J. Clayton Arnold Challenge is based upon the inspiration of a man whose desire was “investing in the human race.” Arnold, a rural mail carrier in Williamson County, began providing financial assistance to students studying to be teachers in 1965. While Arnold’s salary was only $60 a month and he never attended college, he was a smart man who made sound investments throughout his 95 years. These investments allowed him to give UT Knoxville its first million-dollar gift.

“I am loyal to the human race. I believe it is capable of scarcely dreamed-of development. Education has the most important role in the development. The responsibility for this development rests upon us,” Arnold said.
Arnold believed by investing in the preparation of teachers, his gift could influence 25 million students: “Out of the fund I have set up, five thousand students who are planning to be teachers can be helped in the next fifty years. If each of them influences five thousand children, I feel that my money will help twenty-five million children.”

Even after making such a generous gift, Arnold was never content. Instead, he challenged UT alumni to help contribute to his efforts, which has resulted in large gains to the university’s annual giving program. In 2009, 82 teacher-education interns received a J. Clayton Arnold Scholarship.

“The J. Clayton Arnold Challenge invites others to follow Arnold’s lead and make a transformational gift to honor a teacher who has touched their lives,” says Bob Rider, dean of the college.

“By making a charitable gift to the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, you’re not only helping to meet the J. Clayton Arnold Challenge, you’re also making an investment in future educators whose impact will last beyond a lifetime,” Rider says.