In 1988, as a relatively new superintendent of schools in the Upper Darby School District who remembered all too well his days of growing up poor in Philadelphia, Joseph Batory decided to make a positive difference each year for a worthy graduate of Upper Darby High School. He initiated his own personally funded scholarship that year leaving the selection of the recipient to the high school scholarship committee, citing …academic potential and financial need as his only criteria. The Batory Scholarship has now been awarded annually for 33 consecutive years.
The 2021 recipient of The Joseph P. Batory Scholarship is Upper Darby High’s Derrick Mathis a conscientious and goal-oriented graduate headed for Temple University in the fall who is hoping to eventually become a high school science teacher. Derrick has intellectual inquisitiveness and determination which is unusually refreshing in a young man.
Every one of Batory’s scholarship recipients has expressed gratitude in writing. The note below is typical:
“The Joseph Batory Scholarship is worth much more than its monetary value because it is much more about your belief in me. It also reflects all the fact that the Upper Darby School District has given to me so much. And it is a reminder of what makes the diverse Upper Darby community so special. My dream is that I may someday be able to replicate what you have given to me and my family.”
“I never ceased to be amazed at the products of Upper Darby High School.” Summarized Batory. “While high schools which educate students from affluent and basically homogenized communities regularly get public acclaim, Upper Darby High is significantly underrated yet it has been and continues to be about making a difference for all who come to them.
“The brilliant student, the newcomer, the achiever who has overcome adversity, the average student, the slow learner, and those with special needs all exist in large numbers at Upper Darby High. Indeed, the diversity of Upper Darby High, academically, socio-economically, racially, and ethnically, is staggering. A majority-minority school, more than 70 different languages are spoken in Upper Darby homes. And the school system’s legacy of success stories for many thousands of pupils from all sorts of backgrounds is exemplary.”
In a world with too much cynicism and nihilism these days, take heart. There are still good young people among us, many of them at Upper Darby High School, who have the potential and just need a helping hand to make a difference for the better in the future.
Joseph P. Batory was the superintendent of schools of the Upper Darby School District from 1984 to 1999. The Joseph P. Batory Scholarship has been presented to a UDHS graduate (s) each year for more than three decades.