Teacher leaves legacy through scholarship funds

Signe H. Johnson

Signe H. Johnson

A long-time local teacher has left a legacy in the form of two scholarship funds to benefit students at two schools where she had taught for many years.

Signe H. Johnson of Olean was a life-long teacher, having taught at Portville and Olean high schools a combined 35 years. She passed away in December of 2012 at the age of 100 and six months exactly, but before she died, she made clear her wishes that scholarships from her estate be made for students at her former schools.

With that knowledge, friends Miss Johnson entrusted with her estate have established two endowed scholarship funds at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, with a combined total of $90,000.

The Signe, Svenborg, Agnes and Selma Johnson Scholarship, in memory of Signe and her sisters who also taught at Olean High School, will be available to seniors graduating from Olean High School and who demonstrate financial need. Preference will be for students pursuing teaching degrees or those who have strong education and career goals.

The Signe H. Johnson Scholarship will be available to seniors graduating from Portville Central School and who demonstrate financial need. Preference will be for students pursuing teaching degrees or those who have strong education and career goals.

Both of the $1,000 scholarships will be awarded annually, beginning this June. Applications are available at the school guidance offices and online at www.cattfoundation.org/scholarships.

“Miss Johnson clearly cared deeply about her students and her family. By honoring her sisters in creating these scholarships she preserves her family legacy, while helping future students pursue a college education, especially those who want to become future teachers,” said Karen Niemic Buchheit, CRCF executive director.

Miss Johnson taught English in Portville for 13 years and Olean for 22, retiring in 1972.

A 1930 graduate of Portville High School, she earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from University of Michigan and post-graduate credits from Northwestern, St. Bonaventure and Temple universities and SUNY Potsdam.

Miss Johnson was a member of Bethel Lutheran Church in Portville; the Portville Alumni Association; Pi Lambda Theta, a national honor society for women in education; and the New York State Retired Teachers Association.

As endowed funds, the Signe, Svenborg, Agnes and Selma Johnson and Signe H. Johnson scholarships will provide awards to students in perpetuity, with the Foundation investing the principal in order to provide for an annual award.

Donations to either of the scholarships should be made care of the Community Foundation at 120 North Union Street, Olean, and online at www.cattfoundation.org.

Please follow and like us: