Once Jim and Louise Dunaway retired from teaching math in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, the couple knew they wanted to help others get into the profession they love.
Four years ago, they began contacting their alma maters about establishing scholarships for students pursuing careers in math education. The first round of scholarships in the Dunaways’ name were awarded in 2017 to Fresno State (where Jim earned his undergraduate degree), San Jose State (where he earned his teaching credential) and the University of Mount Union (where Louise earned her undergraduate degree).
In the spring of this year, they again donated $4,000 to each college.
The Dunaways hope they can not only provide people with the kind of financial support they received while in school, but also encourage more teachers to specialize in the subject they love: math.
“We hope we will draw some very good people into math teaching and that they will enjoy what they do as much as the two of us have enjoyed our careers in teaching,” Jim said.
Louise added, “We feel very blessed, really, and I hope that some other young people will pursue a career in math instruction and be able to live in this area and teach in these same schools.”
The Dunaways taught in the MVLA district for more than 30 years each, starting at Awalt High School, renamed Mountain View High School in 1980. Louise transferred to Los Altos High in 1971, returning to Mountain View 10 years later.
The couple met while teaching at Awalt in 1969 and married in 1970. Teaching brought them to the Bay Area.
“I got a credential from San Jose State teaching math and also Russian, although I never did wind up teaching Russian because I enjoyed teaching math much more,” Jim said.
Louise did not anticipate teaching. She always enjoyed math as a high school student, however, and tutored underprivileged kids while attending Mount Union.
“It was so wonderful to watch the light go on for somebody, you know, when they really got it,” she said. “So I changed my courses for the fall of that year so that when I completed my degree, I would be able to get a teaching credential in the state of Ohio.”
Dedication and devotion
Once the Dunaways were hired at Awalt, it didn’t take fellow teachers long to realize how dedicated they were to their students.
“They just dedicated their lives to teaching and being supportive of the community,” said Tyrone Head, a retired art teacher at Awalt and Mountain View.
Although he was in a different department, Head said he still took notice of how devoted the Dunaways were to their students.
“I would go back to school and maybe fire the kiln – I taught art and ceramics and photography – and I would see them over there at 6 or 7 … at night tutoring kids,” Head recalled.
The Dunaways retired nearly 20 years ago – Jim in 1999 and Louise in 2000. The Cupertino residents soon realized that they would have some money left over in their estate and wanted to use it to give back to their colleges by funding scholarships for students interested in teaching math.
Laura Whitehouse, director of development at the Kremen School of Education at Fresno State, has worked with the Dunaways for two years to establish the scholarships there.
“They said that because they had been math teachers in their career, they would love to do something to help generate more enthusiasm for people who were interested in becoming teachers to become math teachers,” Whitehouse said.
Beyond just encouraging future educators to consider teaching math, Whitehouse added that the scholarships aim to encourage women and girls to teach math.
“For far too long, women and girls have been discouraged from focusing on math,” she said. “The Dunaways are really steadfast in their support of women and girls in math, too, and they want to make sure that this is available to anyone who’s interested in becoming a math teacher.”
Whitehouse added that the scholarships “would have a long-lasting impact, and what it does is it also generates enthusiasm for other people to follow suit."