New CEF fund will aid children of educators

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

ceflogo-9-5-13-wThe Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) recently honored its former executive director by creating the Rosemary Bisig Smith Scholarship Fund.

The fund will be used exclusively to provide scholarships to children of Catholic elementary school educators in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The new scholarship fund was named after longtime CEF executive director Smith, who retired from the foundation earlier this year.

Rich Lechleiter, CEF president, said the foundation’s board of directors wanted to do something meaningful for Smith’s retirement, something that captured her legacy of Catholic education in Louisville.

Lechleiter said Smith has always been an advocate for teachers and worked diligently alongside administrators, principals, educators and supporters to make Catholic education attainable.

“These folks have certainly answered a call to pursue a vocation of educating children in a great tradition,” he said.

“It’s not what one might call a high paying profession and we do run across examples where our own teachers are simply not able to afford our Catholic schools (for their children). I think at some level that just doesn’t feel right,” Lechleiter said in a phone interview Monday.

He said the scholarship fund not only honors Smith but also provides an opportunity for others to join in giving to the growth of Catholic schools in the archdiocese.

“It’s another small way to say ‘thank you’ to our wonderful teachers. I don’t think we can thank them enough for the commitment they make to our kids and the commitment they make to Catholic education,” he said.

Smith said she was honored and “quite humbled” at the naming of the scholarship fund.

“It’s been a dream since working with Catholic educators at the foundation. I’m well aware of the sacrifices they make to teach in Catholic schools,” she said.
Smith said she and the CEF board of directors are still determining the criteria for the fund, but said she hopes that every educator who has a child in Catholic schools will be compensated in some way.

“I don’t want it based on financial aid; it won’t be based on need as much as based on ‘thank you,’ ” Smith said. “I want it based on ‘thank you’ (because) I know our Catholic school educators already give up so much.”

Smith said it was always  sad when she heard Catholic school educators or archdiocesan employees say they couldn’t afford to send their children to Catholic schools.

“It’s a vocation for our teachers, not a job,” she said. “Why can’t we reciprocate and give back to them and say ‘thank you’ for what you are doing for us?”

The CEF is an independent, non-profit organization that supports Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Louisville. It offers financial aid to families for Catholic school tuition and awards grants to Catholic schools for religious education, technology and professional development. To learn more about the CEF, visit ceflou.org.

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