Bestselling author rewards future teachers through scholarship

Recipients of The James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarships are (l-r): Mary “Hannah” Duke, Birmingham, Alabama; Caitlin McFarland, Franklin, Tennessee; Brooke Leggett, Centreville, Alabama; Amanda Hayes, Madison, Alabama; Abigail Yann, Franklin, Tennessee; Jodie Newsom, Laurel; Mary Hannah Swan, Madison. Caroline Thomas of Cumming, Georgia, is not pictured.

Many different components contribute to a person’s academic success; however, the most influential of these factors can often be the instruction of a devoted teacher. James Patterson, a New York Times bestselling author, understands the need for quality educators and is helping future teachers pursue their degrees.

Mississippi State University is one of nearly 20 colleges and universities to receive James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarships this year. Funded by the Patterson Family Foundation, eight $6,000 scholarships have been awarded to Mississippi State students pursuing degrees in education.

“This very generous gift for teacher education scholarships exemplifies the values and commitment of James Patterson and his wife, Susan Solie Patterson, to quality education,” said Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum.

The 2015-16 MSU James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarship recipients are all freshmen majoring in elementary education. In addition to upholding a 3.0 GPA and expressing an interest in English language arts, the scholarship recipients are expected to understand the importance of promoting literacy and plan to instill in their students a lasting love of reading.

“Being a recipient of the James Patterson Scholarship means the world to me because of what it stands for,” said scholarship recipient Brooke Leggett of Centreville, Alabama. “Literacy is so important to me, and story time was one of my favorite parts of the day in elementary school. I cannot wait for the day I get to share that with students in my own classroom.”

Patterson, himself a passionate promoter of reading and literacy, is best-known for his crime novels, including the Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club and Michael Bennett series. He also holds the Guinness World Record for the most No. 1 New York Times bestsellers of any author and was the first to achieve 10 million e-book sales.

The James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarships are one of several philanthropies supported by the Pattersons, including the James Patterson Pageturner Awards and the Middle School and College Book Bucks programs. Additionally, Patterson’s website,, was established to help parents and teachers ignite the next generation’s excitement about reading.

“The Pattersons have become a tremendous force for good in higher education and I’m very pleased to have Mississippi State affiliated with the work of their foundation,” Keenum said.

Valuable support from benefactors like James Patterson and the Patterson Family Foundation allow Mississippi State to foster individual academic success, while also preparing the next generation of educators to do the same.

“I have wanted to teach my entire life,” scholarship recipient Amanda Hayes of Madison, Alabama said. “It is rewarding to know that out of so many students, I was chosen to receive the scholarship award. It gives me all the more assurance and confidence in my career choice.”