$1 million endowment will boost teaching of children with special needs

Posted Dec. 22, 2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A mother’s memory of her late daughter, whose passion was teaching children with special needs, will live on and support students seeking advanced degrees in special education at the University of Florida, thanks to provisions made in her estate.

The university’s College of Education has received a gift of nearly $1 million from the estate of Anola (Ann) Hendrick of Augusta, Ga., to establish the Gail Hendrick Endowment in Special Education. Gail, a 1978 UF master’s graduate in special education, taught middle school students with emotional and behavioral problems for more than 20 years in Augusta before her death in 2007 at age 59.

Ann Hendrick’s donation came in the form of a bequest in her will. After her recent death at age 94, $925,000 from her estate passed to the College of Education to fund the scholarship endowment in her daughter’s memory. (Ann’s husband, Peter, who was Gail’s father, passed away in 2008.)

The endowment will generate about $36,000 in yearly interest, which will be used “to develop the next generation of leaders in the science and practice of special education.”

“There is a critical shortage of qualified special education professionals in Florida and across the nation,” said Jean Crockett, director of the College of Education’s school of special education, school psychology and early childhood studies. “The Gail Hendrick endowment can be a ‘game changer’ in addressing that.”

UF’s special education program consistently ranks among the top five nationally in the U.S. News and World Report’s annual survey of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” Besides preparing new teachers, the graduate program focuses heavily on federally funded research and professional development designed to improve teacher retention and instruction in special education.

Crockett said her faculty will decide whether to split the endowment earnings into several smaller scholarships, or create one large “super scholarship.”

“Experienced educators could then afford to leave their teaching job and return to graduate school to advance their knowledge and teaching practice,” Crockett said. “The many years that Gail Hendrick devoted to working with public school students with the most severe emotional and behavioral difficulties will be an inspiration to our students.”

UF special education professor emeritus Mary Kay Dykes, who taught Gail Hendrick in her master’s class on teaching students with physical and health impairments, remembers her as “a wonderful, very focused student.”

“Gail wanted to learn everything she could so she could help her students have a better life,” said Dykes, who retired in 2008 after 36 years on UF’s special education faculty

Now, the new scholarship program in Hendrick’s name will help many more children with special needs find their way in the classroom, and in life.


SOURCE: Jean Crockett, professor and director, school of special education, school psychology and early childhood studies; UF College of Education; 352-273-4292, jcrockett@coe.ufl.edu

WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137, llansford@coe.ufl.edu