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James Patterson and the Patterson Scholars

Posted by on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 in Features, Giving, Summer 2012.

Best-selling author James Patterson, MA’70 (far right), visited the Peabody campus in January, meeting nine Patterson Scholars. From left, front: Juliana Musselman, Nisha Khorasi, Sarah Kenny, Leighton Bell, Taylor Roman, Alyson Martin and Mr. Patterson. Back row: Dean Camilla Benbow, Thomas Goodman, Joshua Weinstein and Connor Lewis.

James Patterson, MA’70, earned his best-selling author status writing violent crime novels filled with despicable villains and miscreants from every walk of life.

His legacy, however, is bound to be completely different. Patterson’s goal these days is helping educate the next generation of teachers and encouraging children to read. He achieves this by writing his own children’s books, maintaining the website and by providing scholarship support to future teachers at schools of education around the country, including Peabody College.

The Patterson Scholars program was  established at Peabody in 2009 with 10 students receiving scholarship support. Preference is given to those majoring in elementary or secondary education and specific preference is reserved for students participating in educational community service.

Peabody faculty members (from left) Kathy Hoover-Dempsey, Marcy Singer-Gabella and Matthew Springer participated in a panel discussion on public education reform with Patterson Scholars Thomas Goodman, Alyson Martin and Connor Lewis during author James Patterson’s January visit.

Sarah Kenny, Class of 2014, meets all the criteria. She is majoring in elementary education and human and organizational development—combining her love of teaching with an interest in educational policy. She is also active in the Castles program—Communities and Students Together for Learning-enhanced Service.

“I work in an after-school program in an impoverished area,” Kenny says. “Once I started working with the students there and learning about the school system, I just felt more and more that it was what I was called to do. Having this scholarship means everything to me and I would not be here without the financial help.”

Patterson is also helping children read by doing what he does best—writing best-selling books.

“My kid’s books are the most interesting things I’ve done,” he says. “They’re better written than my adult books, and I believe that Middle School: Get Me Out of Here will end up being my biggest selling book.”

In addition to his scholarships, which are available at several schools along with Vanderbilt, Patterson will donate 100,000 books to troops overseas this year. Thousands more books are given to schools through the ReadKiddoRead website.

“As individuals, we can’t solve the health care problem. We can’t make Wall Street more moral,” Patterson says, “But we can, most of the time, affect reading at our house and in our class and in our town. We can make almost a 100 percent improvement.”

—Cindy Thomsen

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