Making a Difference One Student at a Time

Making a Difference One Student at a Time

There are many versions of the starfish story.

One day, a man was walking along a beach that was littered with starfish. He came upon a boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man chuckled, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and said, “I made a difference to that one!”

It’s a story Dr. Mike Watkins knows well. Mike and his wife Mary Jo (Jody) first heard the story from Raytown School District Deputy Superintendent Henry Russell. Both educators in the district, they have made a difference in the life of many students over the years. Mike was the district’s Superintendent from 1996 to 2001 and Jody taught at Robinson Elementary School for 16 years.

“Raytown is our home,” says Mike. “It’s a great community, full of good people.”

Mike and Jody WatkinsNow retired, Mike and Jody are continuing to support students in Raytown. In 2017, they used their IRA Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) to establish a scholarship fund with Truman Heartland Community Foundation. This strategy allows Mike and Jody to fulfill their RMD, lower their taxable income and give back to the community.

The Watkins Family Harbinger Scholarship benefits first-generation college students graduating from Raytown School District high schools who qualify for one of the district’s advanced diplomas and demonstrate financial need and perseverance.

Mike and Jody have enjoyed getting to know the Raytown students who’ve received their scholarship awards and have been impressed by the convenience of working with Truman Heartland.

“It’s an easy process,” says Mike, “Sending the RMD directly to the Foundation helps us take full-advantage of the tax savings and continue to make a difference, one student at a time.”


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