Donald Lahr and his wife Cindy recently decided to fund scholarships at the School of Education. Their decision came from Lahr’s own life experiences – and the impact education has had on his life.
Lahr’s mother passed away when he was four, and his father struggled to provide for him and his two siblings. At times they were homeless if not for help from some of their relatives, but his father always aspired to send his children to college.
“My father had to start working at an early age so he wanted me to attain an education beyond what he had. As a kid, I grew up wanting to go to IU, but my father had other ideas. But visiting the IU campus and talking to counselors helped me conclude that going to IU was where I really wanted to attend college,” Lahr said.
Getting accepted to IU was a concern. His family continued to struggle at times in finding a place to live, putting food on the table and dealing with some health issues, so academics often took a back burner.
“I didn’t have the best class standing,” said Lahr, joking, “but I was accepted on ‘super secret double probation.’ I know I wouldn’t be accepted in today’s world.”
While at IU, Lahr decided he wanted to be a teacher to grow and challenge students’ minds. He studied social studies education and completed his student teaching at Bedford North Lawrence High School. Times were still tough for Lahr: “I was so poor, I couldn’t afford new clothes. My long sleeved shirts had holes in the elbows, so a friend cut them off and turned them in to short sleeve shirts. They were clean and ironed, but my supervising teacher gave me a very difficult time about my clothes.”