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Giving Thanks to Our Donors

Donors have a direct impact on the lives of University of Kentucky College of Education students. Tuesday, Sept. 26 is Thank-A-Donor Day, and the UK College of Education community is taking this opportunity to demonstrate appreciation to those who support the college.

The story that follows about the Burtons shows the impact that can be made through philanthropic gifts.

Scholarship Funding: Jim and Kaye Burton

Jim and Kaye Burton walked arm-in-arm down a sunlit corridor in the Taylor Education Building at the UK College of Education, admiring the cheerful, bright-blue pillows invitingly perched in window seats. They exchanged delighted smiles; it was a day of celebration.

photo of courtyard donors
Jim and Kaye Burton with students Eli Edwards and Rachel Allgeier

It was the same building where Kaye had studied as a student in the 1960s, before becoming a teacher in Louisville. That’s where she met Jim, a young engineer at the time. Eventually they settled in Texas, where Jim worked for Exxon.

“Texas has been very good to us,” Kaye acknowledged. In turn, the Burtons want to be good to others.

Kaye grew up in a small town, Lebanon Junction, in Bullitt County, just outside of Louisville. After her mother passed away, Kaye and Jim established a scholarship to honor her parents, John and Frances Charlton Samuels. This scholarship, which helps College of Education students, especially those from Bullitt County, was a step toward furthering education in Kentucky as much as it paid tribute to Kaye’s parents.

“We feel that what we’re doing is absolutely the best thing to do for Kentucky – to support Kentucky teachers,” Jim said. “We wanted to find a way to give back, and it’s an honor for us to be able to do this.”

“We feel good that we can help someone else. I want to see Kentucky students be educated as much as I can,” added Kaye. “It’s the best way to improve the future.”

The Burtons are impressed with the young people who have benefitted from the scholarship, and on their recent visit to the college, they had an opportunity to sit with them and celebrate the opening of a new courtyard largely made possible by their gifts. (Read scholarship recipient Rachel’s story here.)

Once a barren space, the courtyard is now a welcoming refuge in the middle of the college, with tables shaded by bright blue umbrellas, artisan- crafted metalwork benches, and landscaping. It is, as the Burtons hoped, a place where students can have lunch, gather to study, or just unwind between classes. To Kaye, the College is a special place – an important part of the Kentucky landscape.

Investing in students – and the College – are investments in the future of education, Jim said.

“If you care about our future, our economy, our society, you’ve got to invest in the people who are going to be making a difference in those things. Teachers are the key.”