Sunday, 14 April 2024

REGIONAL: Retired school teacher donates to Mendocino College Foundation

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Back row from left, Mendocino College Foundation Board Member Leroy Chase, George Weger and Mendocino College Superintendent/President Kathryn G. Lehner; front row, from left, Mendocino College Foundation President Channing Cornell, Hulda Weger and Mendocino College Board of Trustees Member Joan Eriksen. Courtesy photo.
 

 



UKIAH – A retired elementary school teacher is making a contribution to benefit Mendocino College students for years to come.


Hulda Weger is donating $25,000 to be used for annual scholarships, the Mendocino College Foundation has announced.


Weger, 99, has always appreciated education.


She dedicated more than 30 years to teaching youngsters in Mendocino County, starting with a small school once located between Hopland and Cloverdale and continuing at Ukiah Grammar School.


Two of her former students are now associated with Mendocino College, one on the governing Board of Trustees and the other on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.


The $25,000 gift will generate a permanent $1,000 per year scholarship to benefit Ukiah High School students who will be attending Mendocino College, Foundation officers stated.


The scholarship contribution is from Weger and her late husband Alfred, who are well known for their involvement in the Ukiah community.


Alfred Weger, who died in 1991, was the owner of the Redwood Tree Gas Station in town, and the Wegers owned and operated Orr Springs Resort until they sold it in 1972.


Weger now lives only a few blocks from Ukiah’s Civic Center, previously the site of the school where she taught elementary pupils.


Foundation President Channing Cornell and Mendocino College Superintendent/President Kathy Lehner visited Weger in her home recently to thank her for her contribution.


They were joined by Trustee Joan Eriksen and Foundation board member Leroy Chase, who had been students in Weger’s third- and fourth-grade classrooms, respectively. Weger’s son George, of Sebastopol, also attended the informal meeting.


Speaking with Cornell and Lehner, Weger said she wanted the scholarship funds to “go to individuals who are going to better themselves” and she especially wants to assist Ukiah High School graduates.


Weger said she and Alfred invested in stocks years ago upon the advice of a New Zealand woman who had visited the family’s resort.


Approximately 23 years ago, they switched brokers when a young man trying to start his own business knocked on their door. “Alfred said that anyone who went door-to-door like that deserved our business,” Weger said.


Weger started teaching in 1930 after finishing college at Humboldt State. She had started her studies at Marin Junior College, where she spent one year after graduating from Ukiah High School.


At that time, a young woman completing high school had a choice of only two professions, teaching or nursing, Weger said, “and my dad insisted I continue with school.” Only two years of higher education were needed to become a teacher.


Her first teaching job was at the Pine Mountain School, at Comminsky Station off Highway 101, where she would spend the week and return to her family home near Ukiah on weekends. She enjoyed traveling when each school year was over, and she remembers taking a trip to Europe by herself in 1932.


Following two years at the Comminsky school, Weger took a job as an instructor at Ukiah Grammar School. She said she was paid $100 a month when she began teaching and received a raise a few years later. (The other teachers were mad because she was the only one to get a salary increase, she told the group gathered at her home recently.)


After she married Alfred, in 1940, she would teach during the week and work at the family resort on the weekends. Weger retired from teaching in 1968.


Weger remembers teaching both Eriksen and Chase. She said Eriksen was a “very good student.” When asked if Chase also was a good student, she paused and replied, “They all were,” which brought laughter from the group visiting at her home.


Eriksen said Weger had made a point to praise her when she was appointed to the Board of Trustees 14 years ago. Eriksen told the group that Weger had said to her, “I just came to town to congratulate you for being picked for the board. It’s about time they picked someone local and who knows something.”


Third grade was Weger’s favorite with the opportunity to teach all subjects to her elementary students. She did teach high school “for one or two years,” she said, making a sour face and noting, “I didn’t like it.”


Making a general statement about students’ behavior, Weger said, “Years ago they minded better.”


However, she recalled a student sticking his tongue out at another teacher one day when Weger kept the youngster after school to complete his work. Weger swiftly scolded him for it. Mocking his answer, Weger said the student replied, “Can I help it if my tongue hangs out when I’m listening?”


Discussing Weger’s desires for distributing the scholarship money, Lehner and Cornell explained that she has the discretion to establish specific requirements and the intent of the fund disbursement.


“I don’t care as long as (the recipients) make something of themselves,” Weger responded, jokingly adding, “I’m not smarter than a fifth-grader.”


It was decided that the recipients should be Ukiah High School graduates attending Mendocino College.


The Mendocino College Foundation is beginning its 26th year of service to the college. The majority of funding for scholarships is derived from donations to the foundation and from fundraising events such as the annual Gala on the Green.


For information about the foundation and giving opportunities, visit the foundation’s Web site at http://foundation.mendocino.edu or call the office at 707-467-1018.


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