New scholarship to honor long-time teacher Irene Palko

Staff report


SIDNEY — A former student of the late Irene Palko, has created a scholarship to honor Palko’s positive impact as a teacher on the lives of so many students.

Dan and Nita Watercutter established the Irene Palko Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Shelby County to assist Anna students pursuing a degree in education in honor of Palko’s many years as a teacher.

“I have known Irene for over 60 years, starting back when she was Sister Hyacinth,” Dan Watercutter said. “It all began when she was my first- and second-grade teacher in McCartyville. She was not only my teacher, but also a mentor in life lessons.”

At age 17, Palko entered the Sisters of the Precious Blood Convent and trained as a teacher. She taught elementary school in McCartyville, Ohio and several other locations before being assigned principal at two different grade schools in Indiana. She then resigned her position as a Sister of the Precious Blood, moved to Anna, Ohio, and began the final phase of her professional career as a teacher at Anna Elementary.

Palko was known for always encouraging each student to do their best with a “you can do it” approach to learning and her smile and calming voice was always present in her classroom. As a Precious Blood nun early in her career, Palko taught her students that God loved everyone.

“As Irene’s students went on to graduate from high school, I am sure Irene’s gift she gave each one lives on in their lives,” Nita Watercutter said.

The Watercutters would like to encourage anyone whose life Palko touched to consider contributing to the Irene Palko Scholarship fund to keep the scholarship possible for years to come.

The Community Foundation houses more than 110 local scholarships totaling more than $160,000 in one-time and renewable awards. To support the Irene Palko Scholarship or any existing scholarship or to find out how you can create your own, contact the Community Foundation at 937-497-7800 or visit The Community Foundation has been helping people help others since 1952 by managing many charitable funds created by local residents or organizations to support favorite causes and organizations.


Staff report