Retired Windham Teacher Establishes YSU Scholarship

WINDHAM, Ohio – Following his graduation from Youngstown State University in 1973, Robert Kimes taught 15 years at Windham High School before retiring. And now, he’s giving something back – a lot back, really — to the two schools to which he dedicated his life.

Kimes, a modest man, established an endowed scholarship at the university for graduates of the high school.

“I’m still coming to grips with it; $491,000 is an amazing amount of money,” Windham Village Exempted School District Superintendent Gregg Isler said Wednesday at the high school. “Knowing the opportunities our kids will have from that, I think, is what Mr. Kimes wanted. And for it to play out forever, we’re all very excited.”

Kimes taught Isler science when he was in fifth grade. In the classroom, Kimes was “definitely task-oriented, but always cared about the kids,” the superintendent, a graduate of Windham High, said.

“Everything is good memories. I’m probably going to pay him a visit and thank him for this. I’m excited about doing that,” he continued.

The scholarship is available to all Windham graduates who attend YSU beginning this fall, have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and demonstrate financial need. It will pay for a year of full-time tuition, books and fees and can be renewed up to three years as long as the student remains eligible. So far, seven seniors at Windham High School have been accepted at the university for the next school year.

The YSU Foundation began working with Kimes to create the endowment six months ago, said development officer Brian Wolf at the announcement Wednesday. Kimes didn’t attend, Wolf explained, because he didn’t want to be in the spotlight.

“He’s a humble guy,” Wolf said. “We tried to get him here but he said it wasn’t his thing. He wanted everyone to know how highly he regarded Windham schools. … That’s what this is about. He and his wife of 60 years decided that the future of society is in education.”

In a release, YSU noted that Kimes made the donation in memory of his wife, Anneliese, his sister-in-law, Maria, and his mother-in-law, Wilhelmina Berg.

With the cost of college rising across the board, YSU President Jim Tressel said that whenever a scholarship is created – there are more than 700 available at YSU – the burden on a student is eased.

“It’s particularly neat to create an endowment that will last forever, that will give young people a chance to chase their dreams, and do it in a way that doesn’t leave the [students] financially strapped when they finish,” he said.

The scholarship also helps expand the area where the university draws its students. Since taking office, Tressel has worked to expand awareness of YSU beyond Mahoning and Trumbull counties. While the Windham village limits border Trumbull County, it lies entirely within Portage County, giving YSU a stronger foothold there.

“When there’s an initiative like this to widen your footprint, and all of a sudden a graduate creates a scholarship outside our traditional area, it’s a huge beginning,” the president said.

With the first recipients of the scholarship most likely to begin their college careers at Youngstown State in August, Isler said the full effects of the scholarship might not be felt immediately but they have the potential to reach across the Mahoning Valley.

“It gives long-term hope for a lot of things. With limited debt, it opens a lot of doors for a lot of kids,” he said. “As these kids get involved with Youngstown State, they probably stay in the valley and figure out how they fit into this community. They can become a part of how we continue to prosper.”

Pictured: YSU President Jim Tressel address Windham staff and students at the press event.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.