Pollard Scholarship Established

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The University of West Georgia announces the creation of the Miss Michele May and Dr. Nancy Ellen Pollard Scholarship, which will benefit graduate students majoring in special education.

It was established in memory of Michele May Pollard, who spent her life teaching all whom she met about the potential and accomplishments of persons with Down syndrome, mental retardation and epilepsy, and also in honor of her mother, Dr. Nancy Ellen Pollard, professor of special education emerita, who has spent over 40 years teaching students from kindergarten to the doctoral level.

The majority of those years, she has worked with students with disabilities and teachers of students with disabilities.

The scholarship was started by students and faculty in the Department of Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology as a tribute to Dr. Pollard. After Michele’s death, the scholarship was renamed to include a commemoration of her life.

“Michele always said, ‘I be the teacher,’ and she really was,” said Pollard. “Even through her illness she was teaching others. I’m happy this scholarship will serve as a reminder of her love of education.”

According to her mother, Michele was a frequent visitor to classes for education majors and taught students that persons with disabilities are unique, creative individuals who are disabled only in the eyes of the beholder. She also participated in Special Olympics sports on the local, state and international levels. Her favorite sports were bowling, swimming, horseback riding and track, and she was the proud recipient of many bronze, silver and gold medals. During the International Special Olympics games held in Connecticut, she won Georgia’s first gold medal in equestrian events. During her final, unanticipated illness of 14 months, she still smiled and maintained her positive attitude and determination.

Dr. Nancy Pollard’s teaching career spanned 43 years, beginning with a group of 53 first-graders. She went on to teach other elementary grades and bilingual students, and then to teach special education students, particularly those with mental retardation. After a few years on the faculty at Purdue University, she found her home at West Georgia, where she taught from 1979 to 2005 excepting a two-year leave of absence. She became chair of the Department of Special Education in 2000, retired in 2005 and returned to teaching following Michele’s death.

In her many roles at UWG, Pollard has worked with a large variety of programs preparing service providers for students with special needs. She also has been active in the community, including her church, the Arc of Carroll County and the Arc of Georgia (formerly the Association for Retarded Citizens), especially with activities impacting persons with disabilities and their families.

“I’m grateful to all the students and community members who contributed to this scholarship,” said Pollard. “It will help to ensure that special education remains a priority for future generations.”

Applicants for the scholarship must demonstrate financial need and be either a student with a disability, a parent of an individual with a disability or have previous experience in special education as a paraprofessional. For more information on the Miss Michele May and Dr. Nancy Ellen Pollard Scholarship, contact the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at 678-839-6582.