KNOXVILLE — Best-selling author James Patterson believes a love of reading starts with encouraging high-quality teachers. That’s why the Patterson Family Foundation awarded $6,500 to four University of Tennessee, Knoxville graduate students in English and Elementary Education.

“These scholarships for teacher education really highlight the true commitment that James Patterson and his wife, Susan Solie Patterson, have to making sure children receive a quality education,” said Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. “The Patterson’s investment in teacher preparation is making a real impact on higher education, and we are pleased to have our college affiliated with the crucial work of their foundation.”

Scholarship recipients share a love of reading and a passion for sharing that love with students. Each recipient is asked to write an essay describing what they have learned throughout the year and how they can apply it in their future classrooms.

All four recipients of the scholarship are students in the college’s Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education.

Brianna Watkins moved from Florida to Rogersville, Tennessee, when she was eight-years-old. She graduated May 2018 with a degree in American Studies and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in elementary education. She loves to travel and has been to Italy, Switzerland and several states across the United States.

“Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I remember playing school on the weekends, even waking up early so that I could start at 8 am, and teaching my stuffed animals science, math, English, and social studies.”