Karen Poole flipped through her Fairmont State yearbook recently and realized how significant so many professors and friends who she met while attending college were to her success in life.
“Back then, I did not realize how important they were and that someday I would be in a position to give back in such a major way,” said Poole, who recently made Fairmont State University the beneficiary of 5 percent of the residuary of her estate to support the School of Education, Health & Human Performance.
Planned gifts, either through a bequest like Poole’s, making Fairmont State University the beneficiary of an IRA or life insurance policy or even creating an income producing charitable gift annuity help Fairmont State to plan for the future and supports growth.
“A great university is defined by more than a beautiful campus and excellent academic programs. Its most important asset is its people,” Dr. Mirta Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “Karen Poole’s generous gift is a testament to the fact that Fairmont State has long been home to dedicated teacher-mentors who have passionately educated generation after generation of Falcon alumni. And Karen herself is the perfect example of what we hope all our alumni can strive to become – service-minded, caring people who give back to their communities. Her gift will help us continue our tradition of educating civic-minded leaders of tomorrow”
Karen (Lucas) Poole grew up in Newell, WV, and graduated in 1965 from Oak Glen High School, located in the upper tip of the Northern Panhandle.
She had considered going to school closer to home but was afraid that she would be expected to be back home every weekend. Many of her friends chose to go to college in Morgantown, WV, but being a “small-town gal” she wanted a smaller school with a similar environment.
“I liked the community feel of ‘The College on the Hill’ and knew my innate fear of getting lost would not be a problem there,” she said. “I auditioned for and got a spot on the majorette squad of the Fighting Falcon Marching Band, so I packed my bags and headed to Fairmont.”
She started her education as a math major but soon realized that elementary education was a better fit. She lived all four years in Morrow Hall -- the first year as a freshman requirement and the next three years as a resident assistant.
Dr. Edmund E. Collins’ physical science class was her favorite, and he became her unofficial advisor.
“I still think that he was responsible for me being selected as Student Teacher of the Year in ‘69, and I know he was instrumental in getting me my first teaching job in Monongalia County,” she said.
She also has fond memories of Lawrence Waller who taught speech and was feared by many students for his gruff approach.
“He forced me out of my public speaking fear and helped me develop a new sense of self-confidence,” she said.
The summer after graduating, Karen married William Poole, who still had a year left before graduating from West Virginia University.
“I was the bread-winner,” she said. “I began teaching second and third grades in Summers Elementary, a four-room school located on a mountain beyond Sabraton. The next summer Bill got drafted and joined the Army, so I returned home to teach in the elementary school I had attended, with many of the same teachers who had taught me!”
Karen joined Bill in Frankfurt, Germany, after a year and taught in the Department of Defense elementary school on base. The couple returned to the United States in 1973 and settled in Virginia, where she began an 18-year career of middle school teaching. During that time, she earned a master’s in secondary administration and supervision and soon accepted a position as a middle school assistant principal and finished out the remaining 12 years of her career.
The couple wanted to do something that will impact future generations and hopefully make the world a better place because they were once in it, she said. They have also been impressed with the expansion of programs and facilities at Fairmont over the years.
“Bill and I both grew up as the oldest child in small-town families with financial challenges and would have been unable to go to college without assistance from loans and scholarships,” she said. “Those small towns have not survived well, but because we had good educations, we were able to find employment and opportunities in other locations. We feel very blessed, and fortunate, that we were able to do so and want others to have the same opportunities.”
Poole’s gift was made through the Fairmont State Foundation Inc., the non-profit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of the Fairmont State University.