PLAN 69:
Inspiring Education

Giving to Teach Teaching: Joe and Rita Scheller

A pressing challenge facing America is the high number of students reluctant to pursue an interest in science and technology. One approach to this problem is to develop inspiring and knowledgeable teachers. The Teacher Education Program at MIT under Professor Eric Klopfer does just this.

This program is now named the Rita P. and Joseph B. Scheller (1954 GM) Teacher Education Program (STEP) to recognize the Scheller's gift to fully endow this program. STEP leads to certification for MIT students to teach math and science in grades 5-12, and also conducts research into new educational technologies.

The Schellers believe that as a leader in advancing knowledge, MIT can encourage other schools to develop highly qualified teachers. They know America needs many more educators than MIT will graduate. "We hope STEP will become a role model for other colleges and universities by showing that teacher certification programs can be successfully partnered with math, science and technology at the undergraduate level."

The Schellers worked on this challenge even prior to their retirement 10 years ago. Rita, a teacher with a master's degree in Reading, was a member of a community school system-business partnership to encourage students to graduate high school. Joe had been Chairman and CEO of Silberline Manufacturing Co., a producer of aluminum pigments. As the company's operations and its associated technologies continually advanced, employees were encouraged to further their education. Some employees attended community colleges to earn associate degrees, while others went further to obtain bachelor's and/or master's degrees.

The Schellers believe everyone should learn teaching skills to be more effective as both parents and leaders in a technologically complex world. "Teaching is an everyday occurrence and ;getting a grounding in teaching means you can pass on what you learn to someone else, and then go onto other challenges."

What is an Endowed Gift?

When you give an "endowed" gift to MIT, SA+P, a department or center, or a program like the Scheller Teacher Education Program, your gift is invested in the MIT endowment. Whether unrestricted to benefit all areas of MIT or earmarked to support a targeted need, your gift provides a perpetual source of financial support to create a lasting, long-term impact.

The MIT endowment is managed by the MIT Investment Company, led by Seth Alexander. As of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007, the MIT endowment had grown 22.1 percent over the previous fiscal year due to gifts and investments to reach a total of $9.98 billion in assets. For the past 10 years, the Institute has realized an average annual return of 15.4 percent.

While SA+P receives important support from unrestricted gifts to the MIT endowment, only a small fraction of the Institute's overall endowment is designated specifically to support the people and programs of the School of Architecture and Planning. As of June 30, 2007, the SA+P endowment stood at $290.1 million.

Advantage of Endowed Gifts

When you designate your endowed gift to the School of Architecture and Planning, you give SA+P the independence to invest in the power of design to improve the quality of human lives, and the societies and spaces we live in. You can establish an endowed fund to support a program, professor or student, or endow an unrestricted fund to give any area of the School the simple ability to respond quickly to opportunity and circumstance.

An endowed fund can be built up over time and pledge payments can be made in increments over a three-to-five year period. When fully established, income is distributed annually to support the area you have identified for support. MIT sets a distribution rate of approximately 5% to preserve the purchasing power of the endowment over time. For more information on establishing an endowed fund in the School of Architecture and Planning, please call 617-253-8896 or email

Posted December 2007