Thomas S. Haggai knows the importance of early education.
"Children have to be able to read and be inspired in the beginning to make a life for themselves," he said.
Haggai credited the great teachers – whom he can still name – he had in school in the first eight grades with his own achievements and his strong belief in the value of education. Speaking of those teachers, Haggai said that "when people invest in you, you can never really pay them back, but you can pass it on."
In order to "pay it forward," he established the Tom Haggai and Associates Foundation (THA) more than 40 years ago, with a number of colleagues, in an attempt to assist college students financially. The first THA Foundation scholarship was awarded in 1966, and today more than 65 scholarships are annually awarded to often overlooked nontraditional students who are committed to teach EC-sixth grades.
THA's Board of Governors have focused on nontraditional students because they have life experience. "They often have children of their own, so they are able to understand that each child is different," he said. "They also provide an age balance at the college level and in the classroom."
The foundation underwrites seven nontraditional students at Winthrop to receive an annual $5,000 award. THA Foundation opted to partner with Winthrop as one of the six universities they support because of the College of Education’s national reputation and attitude.
"They have terrific staff; the faculty care and it trickles down," he added. "The campus is still warm even as it continues to grow."
Last updated: 03/28/2011