Skip to main content

Gift to Boise State’s College of Education Supports Nontraditional Teaching Students

shirly jester
Shirley Jester teaching at Washington Elementary in 1989.

Shirley Jester graduated from Boise State University’s College of Education in 1988, and started teaching at Washington Elementary School in Boise’s North End neighborhood in 1989. She admits her route to the teaching profession was indirect: On her first day as a grade school instructor, she was 55 years old. 

“One of the strengths of Boise State is that it’s made for people like me who aren’t on the traditional path,” she said. 

For many students, the path to Boise State hasn’t been straight or smooth, but part of the mission of the university is to ensure all students can receive a quality education, regardless of how or when in their lives they begin their academic journey. Jester, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, grew up in Hagerman, Idaho, but soon moved to Boise. By the time she began taking classes at Boise State in 1984, she had been married, pursued a career as an office manager, and raised three children. 

Her son Jay also chose a nontraditional educational path, joining the Coast Guard after high school and spending a year traveling before coming to Boise State himself. Graduating at age 26, he went on to the University of Virginia for law school. To support fellow nontraditional students, he and Shriley established the Shirley Jester Education Scholarship, which offers financial assistance to students with educational gaps of five years or more, and financial need preparing for careers in education. 

“I’m very proud of mom and I’m honored to be a participant,” Jay said. “We felt strongly about it being a scholarship for nontraditional students. We’re both very pleased with the selection of the recipients.”

Since its inception, the Shirley Jester Education Scholarship has been awarded to single parent students as well as re-entry students majoring in elementary education. The scholarship has helped nontraditional teaching-bound students in a variety of ways, while reducing their reliance on student loans.

Support student teachers today.

Learn more about gift planning.

Let's Chat