A former student of a Robertsdale teacher who died from COVID-19 complications is the first recipient of a scholarship named in his honor.
The foundation behind the William “Willie” Peck Memorial Scholarship has chosen Chloe Giardina as its inaugural recipient. Giardina was a student in Peck’s government and economics class at Robertsdale High School and is currently in her first semester at the University of South Alabama studying elementary education.
Peck was named the 2020 Alabama Teacher of the Year last December and died two months later after contracting COVID-19.
According to a USA news brief, two of Peck’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers, Ed Donaldson and Michael Summar, formed the William “Willie” Peck Memorial Scholarship shortly after his death on Feb. 14, 2021. Peck received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from USA’s College of Education and Professional Studies.
The foundation will award scholarship money each year to a Robertsdale graduate planning to major in the USA College of Education and Professional Studies. The recipient must be an undergraduate student with a GPA of 3.0 and a score of 23 or higher on the ACT.
“Mr. Peck was an exceptional teacher and a kind man,” Giardina said. “He fully immersed himself into his teaching career and ensured that every student’s life was changed for the better when they stepped foot into his classroom. Mr. Peck was a loyal man who made everyone, including myself, feel important. He leaves behind many friends and students in my community who adore him and mourn him. I am so thankful to have been chosen to represent the life’s work of such a stellar man.”
In a statement to USA, Summar described Peck as a passionate leader and knew teaching was Peck’s dream job.
“When Ed and I decided to start the William “Willie” Peck Scholarship, we knew it would be the best way to honor Willie,” Summar said. “Even from his early days at the University of South Alabama, Willie taught and educated his family, friends and colleagues every day. He always had something new to share and a way to explain it so that everyone would understand.”
To learn more about the scholarship, interested persons can visit giving.southalabama.edu/peck.
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