Five students at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) have joined the list of recipients of the Earl & Mary Watts Scholarship: Lisa Baker (Accounting), Sarah Bland (Applied Science), Jodi Kremiller (Psychology), Harper Sublette (Psychology), and Willie Williams (English) were the most recent to be awarded, each of them from either Sarasota or Manatee county with a minimum 2.5 institutional GPA.
Respect, compassion, and perseverance are words often used by the many friends and admirers of long-time educators Mary and Earl Watts, who influenced the Sarasota County School District for more than thirty years, leaving a legacy of educational quality and standards that made local history. Mary Watts retired in 1997 as the district’s first African American assistant superintendent. She and Earl were among the first black principals in the district. Mary was principal at Gocio and Wilkinson Elementary schools, and returned from retirement in 1999 as acting principal for Booker Middle School. Earl was assistant principal and principal at Sarasota Junior High School, and football coach at Booker Middle and Sarasota High schools. He retired in 1991 as the district’s coordinator of employee relations and supervisor of affirmative action and minority education programs. Both were affiliated with many civic and church organizations, and earned advanced degrees and professional certificates while raising two sons.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, their legacy lives on in the Mary and Earl Watts Memorial Scholarship. The original gift was combined with state matching gift funds to establish a principal endowment. Endowed gifts are managed by the USF Foundation and provide funds through investment earnings in perpetuity. Available to students since 2004, the scholarship has been awarded to over 40 local students over the past seven years. Those recipients include: Chrystal Fields, Janyce Jones, Solanges Simmons, Shirley Whitaker, Tracy Purvis, Barbara Cancel, Elizabeth Chastain, Christopher Isidore, Chris Merrick, Brian Short, Christine Strudevant, Peter Simms, Jennifer Devlin, Edison Senat, Jacob Taylor, Karen Zapata, Gloria Gibson, Jennifer Diaz, Carol Gallegos, Alicia Long, Mary Reichard , Peggy Stiscak, Aracely Bazan, Leah Hutchinson, Karla Jaimes, Andrew Stubbs, Patrick Walker, Rebecca Wilson, Dat Vu, Ashli Van Pelt, Lisa Baker, Sarah Bland, Jodi Kremiller, Harper Sublette, Willie Williams, Carey Fitch, Rhonda Chaykin-Adams, Chelsea O’Neil, Faith Carnes, Shirley Edwards, Jennifer Hemmingway, Jessica Souders, and Heather Coonradt.
Mary and Earl Watts Memorial Scholarship is available to any Sarasota or Manatee County resident with financial need, who is admitted to USFSM as a new or continuing degree-seeking student, and who maintains a minimum 2.5 institutional G. P. A. Information and scholarship applications are available on the university Web site, at www.sarasota.usf.edu or from the campus Financial Aid office, 359-4459.