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KNOXVILLE — Earlier this year, an anonymous donor issued a $1 million challenge to raise money to provide financial assistance to students enrolled in the teacher internship program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. With only a month left to go on the challenge, the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences now has raised $900,000 — bringing them within $100,000 of their goal.

A longtime supporter of the college, the donor offered to give $1 million in memory of the late J. Clayton Arnold if the college succeeds in collecting at least $1 million in contributions from other supporters by the end of 2010.

The money raised will provide stipends that make it easier for students to forego outside employment and focus totally on their teacher internships. Students say the internship program is important because it enables them to develop teaching and classroom management skills not possible within a shorter time frame. UT has the only teacher preparation program in the state requiring a full-year internship of its students.

The J. Clayton Arnold Challenge is based upon the inspiration of a man whose desire was “investing in the human race.” Arnold, a rural mail carrier in Williamson County, began providing financial assistance to students studying to be teachers in 1965. While Arnold earned only $60 per month and never attended college, he was a smart man who made investments throughout his 95 years. These investments allowed him to give UT Knoxville its first million-dollar gift.

Arnold believed by investing in the preparation of teachers his gift could influence 25 million students: “Out of the fund I have set up, 5,000 students who are planning to be teachers can be helped in the next 50 years. If each of them influences 5,000 children, I feel that my money will help 25 million children.”

Even with his generous gift, Arnold was never content. Instead, he challenged UT alumni to help contribute to his efforts, which has resulted in large gains to the university’s annual giving program. In 2010, 28 teacher education interns received a J. Clayton Arnold Scholarship.

“The J. Clayton Arnold Challenge invites others to follow Mr. Arnold’s lead,” said Bob Rider, dean of the college. “Mr. Arnold believed, as do we, that an investment in future educators makes an impact that will last beyond a lifetime.”

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,