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The Circle of Gratitude: Estate Gift Creates Legacy of Inspired Giving and Teaching

The Circle of Gratitude: Estate Gift Creates Legacy of  Inspired Giving and     Teaching

Patricia "Patty" J. Lehrke '64

Patricia "Patty" J. Lehrke '64 was inspired to include Concordia College in her estate plan. Her gift supports two funds: The Patricia J. Lehrke Dean's Fund for Education and The Patricia J. Lehrke Endowed Scholarship in Education, created in fall 2021.

Patricia Lehrke

The Lehrke Fund for Education will be used within Concordia College's Education Department to continue the tradition of exceptional learning for future educators in ways that are responsive to the realities of what our communities need: well-prepared, caring teachers and leaders. The fund will provide support for areas of greatest need and emerging opportunities including, but not limited to, technological advances, mentorships, travel funds, creative projects and curriculum.

Patty graduated from Concordia College in 1964. Her choice to attend Concordia College was based partly on its fine reputation and small size, but mainly because of the scholarship aid she was offered. This choice proved to be wise indeed because her preparation at Concordia College enabled remarkable success in her chosen profession, elementary education, as well as other benefits such as lifelong friendships.

After brief times teaching in Hector, Minnesota, and Camarillo, California, she joined the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon, California, just east of San Diego. She remained there for more than 35 years.

The Cajon Valley Union School District has a very diverse demographic. The schools range from upper-middle class with students from predominately two-parent households to very low-income homes with mostly single-parent households. Patty was repeatedly honored as one of the district's outstanding teachers and was offered the opportunity to transfer to one of the district's "better" schools. She declined the offers until late in her career when she did transfer to one of those schools but lasted only one year before returning to the poorer school. She thought the students in the better school were more likely to succeed in life without her, because many of their two-parent homes placed a high value on education and enabled special lessons and activities to enrich their learning. She believed the students who would benefit most from her teaching were in the lower-income district, and this is where she could make the most significant difference.

Patty never forgot how the scholarship from Concordia College changed the direction of her life. She was thankful to remember Concordia College in her estate plan so other students could similarly benefit.

Patty's Impact

"The need for effective, compassionate teachers has never been greater and our students have answered this call. We're so grateful for the generosity of those who recognize the significance of this calling, and who also understand the need for support and encouragement along the way. These gifts will allow us to meet our students' needs in an unprecedented way, and in turn, will touch the lives of thousands of their students."
Darrell Stolle '82, Professor and Chair, Department of Education, Concordia College

"I am so grateful to have received my scholarship. This was a tremendous help to me in pursuing my degree in elementary education. Furthering my education at Concordia College has been such a blessing as I have experienced so many incredible opportunities. I have been in countless classrooms through clinicals, learned from the most knowledgeable and compassionate professors, experienced a month in Tanzania teaching English to students, and made lifelong friendships in the education program. This scholarship played a role in my ability to do these things and I am so thankful. I am so happy to be a part of the Cobber community!"
Kate Barnes '21, Elementary Education and Spanish

"I am writing to thank you for your generous gifts with this scholarship. I was very happy and appreciative to learn that I was selected as a recipient of this scholarship. I am a junior majoring in elementary education and I plan to graduate next May. After graduation, I plan on getting a teaching job either here around the Fargo/Moorhead area or back home in Sioux Falls. By awarding me this scholarship, you have lightened my financial burden, which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of school: learning. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me. Thank you again for your generosity and support."
Lucille Stverak '22, Elementary Education

"Investing in Concordia College's future educators is investing in the strength of our communities and our democracy."
Candace Lilyquist '90, National Education Association

Candace and her classmates have started the Boost Educators (B.E.)—be the change project to support Concordia's education department in practical, tangible ways.

Estate planning can be simple and enjoyable! Contact Trina Hall at 218.299.3445 or [email protected] to plan your legacy, like Patty. You can also create your own named endowed scholarship.

Create Your Concordia Legacy

Make a lasting impact by making a planned gift through your estate. There are many ways to make a lasting impact by making a planned gift through your estate. Contact Trina Hall at 218.299.3445 or [email protected] today, to learn more.

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