Sunday, May 20, 2012


If you were anywhere just west of middle Tennessee the past two weeks of May, you may have heard shouts going up!  Scott’s Hill High School in Reagan, Riverside High School in Decarturville and Perry County High School in Linden were the sites of The Ayers Foundation End of Year Celebrations for the Class of 2012.

Graduating seniors and their parents were guests of Jim and Janet Ayers at these annual celebrations hosted by The Ayers Foundation.  When the program first began the celebration was held as a banquet in a central location.  With the growth in the number of schools and scholars and with the emphasis on the students these have become individualized events at the student’s school with their accomplishments being the focal point of the event.  The combined total of attendance was over 800!  Mr. and Mrs. Ayers addressed each group of students in person and surprised the attendees with a personal video message from Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Graduating seniors are offered last dollar scholarships from the Ayers Foundation to pursue post-secondary education in the amount of up to $4,000 per year, up to 4 years.  In addition The Ayers Foundation employs in each of the schools a College Access Counselor who works with the students starting with their freshman year in high school and until they complete their post-secondary education.  With this year’s graduating class, this fall the Ayers’ scholars will total almost 800 students enrolled in some form of post-secondary education.

Scotts Hill High / Ayers Foundation Scholars - Class of 2012

Over 2000 students have been awarded scholarships since the program began in 1999.  The total contribution of the Ayers’ scholarships is over $10 million and outside scholarships totaling over $20 million.  The original goal of the program was for 75% of the graduating seniors to continue their education past high school – now that number is reaching almost 90% of the students attending post-secondary educational institutions.  The Ayers program attributes this great success primarily to the counselors employed by the program and the excellent working relationship with the school system and the community as a whole. 

Riverside High / Ayers Foundation Scholars - Class of 2012

In his address to the students, Jim Ayers challenged the students to realize how the decisions they make at this point in life will have an affect over their lives for the next 60+ years.  Ayers Foundation president, Janet Ayers encouraged the students with Jeremiah 29:11 and a life with hope and a future.  The charge to the students was that it is now their choice of what to do with this great opportunity.  Jim Ayers exclaimed
“while we have given each of you something tonight, we are also taking something from you …the excuse that you could not afford to continue your education”.

Perry County High / Ayers Foundation Scholars - Class of 2012

Governor Haslam’s video message was delivered through a special text code to the students to use on their cell phones.  Haslam congratulated the students on their graduation stating “Today marks the end of one journey, but the beginning of a new adventure – your first one as a full-fledged adult.  Today, I set a challenge for you to be life-long learners!  A student for life”.  Haslam also thanked Jim and Janet Ayers and The Ayers Foundation for their work to make education accessible to young people in Tennessee.