The purpose of this fund is to provide scholarships for a Mississinewa High School graduating senior who has been a resident of Grant County for 12 months preceding application. Applicant should major in one of the following (in order of preference): Secondary (high school) education- English/Language Arts, Journalism or Creative Writing, Secondary education (High school or middle school), Elementary education.
William E. Fessenden (Bill) was a kind and caring person. He was humble and extremely compassionate.
“He was a true scholar and was passionate about helping kids learn,” said his wife Alexis Fessenden. “He believed in what he did.”
After Bill passed away in 2001, his wife Alexis created the William E. Fessenden, Ph.D. Endowed Fund as a way to honor him and his commitment to education and writing. She wanted his legacy to live on and support what he believed in so strongly.
Bill graduated from Marion High School, entered the service, and later attended Marion College for a teaching degree. While at Marion College, Bill met his wife Alexis as they were both a part of the teaching track. They were married in 1974. Bill went on to earn a master’s and a doctorate degree from Ball State University.
Bill was passionate about teaching English and writing. He always loved words. He loved to read and treasured his large book collection. He enjoyed writing and he excelled at it.
Bill was a teacher at Mississinewa High School for 26 years. His students are still grateful for how he taught them how to think and how to organize. He felt everyone could learn and he wanted to share his love of education with the kids.
“He worked as hard at teaching as he made the students work,” said his wife Alexis Fessenden. “He truly loved teaching.”
“Mr. Fessenden was the most amazing teacher I ever had,” said Ashley McKnight, a former student. “He could see your potential and would push you towards it. He was hard on you but you never resented him for it.”
Bill desired that his students would be prepared for writing in college.
“He is the reason I write,” said McKnight. “He made me feel like I could write…not just because I liked it, but because I was good at it and had his endorsement behind me.”
“Mr. Fessenden was one of my favorite teachers. He had high expectations for all who entered his classroom, and for that, I am thankful,” said Dawn Brown, a former student. “Not only did he prepare me for all of the future college classes that I would take which required writing acumen, but he taught me to love writing, as well. What a gift!”
Bill’s love of writing was evident in the classroom. Each day he had the class do a quick pre-writing activity and often encouraged his students to share their journal entries.
“One day I recall using the word ‘severed’. He was overcome with joy in what a descriptive word that was and how I painted a picture with my words,” said Brown. “Since that day, I’ve always wanted to paint pictures with my words and share my love of writing with others. That’s the kind of impact great teachers like Mr. Fessenden had on eager students like me. He was simply the best!”
Bill Fessenden was a well-respected son, son-in-law, husband, father to his daughter Alison, teacher and educator.
“Any student he had would say that he was one of the best teachers they had,” said McKnight.
Bill’s passion for education and writing will continue to live on through this fund and through the inspired writings of many of his former students.
LeeAnna M. Furnish
Kaitlin J. Linn
Kristalyn L. Oke
Click here to apply for Community Foundation scholarships.