Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 8, 2009

Education Major Becomes First Whitworth Student to Win Prestigious Scholarship

Junior Amy Watts receives national Distinguished Student Scholar Award

Whitworth junior Amy Watts was selected from a list of students nationwide to be named the 2009 recipient of Pi Lambda Theta’s Distinguished Student Scholar Award. Watts is the first Whitworth student to win the $500 scholarship. Along with the award money, Watts, who is an elementary education major from Colorado Springs, Colo., will receive a one-year honorary membership in Pi Lambda Theta. The other students nominated attend Hastings College (Nebraska), Rowan University (New Jersey), University of Hawaii, and Western Washington University.

"Amy’s selection reflected the uniform focus of her references on attributes that transcend her performance as a student," says J. Ogden Hamilton, executive director of Pi Lambda Theta. "The collected examples of good works indicate that Amy is willing to take on a wide variety of teaching challenges and does well in meeting them. Most important, she is seen as providing an unusual type of leadership that leaves everyone involved more productive and better off. For three references to focus on such a subtle thing is really unusual."

The Distinguished Student Scholar Award is presented bi-annually in recognition of an education major who has demonstrated strong dedication to the future of education, displays potential for leadership, and has made significant contributions to local or national education efforts while enrolled as an undergraduate. The award, which was established in 1991 and is funded by the Pi Lambda Theta Educational Endowment, was selected by a committee chaired by a student vice president on the Pi Lambda Theta board of directors.

"Amy is very serious about her studies and that is clear from the dedication, attention to detail, initiative and responsibility she shows in her schoolwork," says Whitworth Associate Professor of Education Lisa Laurier. "However, she pursues her goals without ever losing her sense of fun or her awareness that children are the heart and reason for her work.

Laurier continues, "Amy has a very infectious playfulness that allows her to connect easily with peers and children alike. She is a very thoughtful, reflective, goal-oriented young woman who makes intentional choices about her time and activities so as to maximize her potential for learning and personal and professional development."

"I am honored and humbled to receive the Distinguished Student Scholar Award," Watts says. "It is an enormous distinction to be given such an award from a prestigious national honor society for educators, Pi Lambda Theta. The award is certainly an encouragement that supports my career choice to be both a lifetime educator and a scholar. I am grateful that my hard work and leadership activities have been acknowledged as valuable attributes, both now and in my future career. I am passionate about the work and activities that I do, and it is exciting to be recognized for doing them well. I am also quite pleased at the recognition that the award brings to Whitworth, especially to the School of Education." 

The award requires that the student must make significant contributions to local or national education efforts while in college. In fall 2008, Watts completed research in conjunction with fellow students Kayla Maddy and Kari Lanham and sponsored by Professor of Education Betty Fry Williams. The project was titled, "The Effects of Preferred Reward on Using an Augmentative Communication Device with a High School Student Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy." The research was presented at the Northwest Association for Behavior Analysis annual conference in March 2009 and at the Spokane Intercollegiate Research Conference in April 2009.

Watts also is earning minors in music and reading instruction while managing a cumulative GPA of 3.94. On campus, she is an active member of the Whitworth Women’s Choir and has served on leadership team and in the role of chaplain for the past two years. She is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, the Whitworth Laureate Society and Spokane Area Council – International Reading Association.

Along with giving private piano lessons, Watts plays the piano in solo and ensemble performances and also for senior citizens at the Royal Park Care Center throughout the year.  She tutors second graders in reading and spelling and college students in study skills and time management.

After graduating from Whitworth, Watts plans to teach at an elementary school, but she is considering first attending graduate school.

Watts is an active member of Pi Lambda Theta, the most selective national honor society of educators and a contributing body to quality assurance in education. It employs its standing and reach to advocate for accomplished teaching and standards-based professional learning. PLT extends membership to students and professionals who satisfy academic eligibility requirements; however, those requirements are waived for National Board-certified teachers and recipients of any of the widely recognized awards enrolled in PLT’s Project Excellence.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


J. Ogden Hamilton, executive director, Pi Lambda Theta, joh@pilambda.org

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

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