Alumna donates to scholarship endowment

Dakota State alumna Martha Zara recently made a $20,000 contribution to the Cora Tour Canney Scholarship Endowment. The family of Mrs. Canney, including daughter Martha, established the scholarship in 1985 in memory of their mother who passed away in May of that year.

Vice President for University Advancement Judy Payne says this particular endowment is especially personal to her as Cora Canney was her 5th grade teacher at Washington Grade School in Madison.  "I have fond memories of Mrs. Canney as a teacher, particularly her teaching us the Palmer Method of cursive handwriting," says Payne. She added that working with Martha Zara to finalize the gift gave them both an opportunity to reflect on shared memories of Madison, and the impact Cora Canney had on so many school children in the area. 

Cora Tour Canney graduated from (then) Eastern State Normal School in 1919. After teaching for several years, she returned to Eastern to obtain her four-year degree. Daughter Martha graduated in 1952. Martha met her future husband Chester Zara while a college student. Chester graduated in 1956. Two of Martha's three siblings and their spouses also graduated from Dakota State. Sister Jane Bade graduated in 1956, and her late husband, Richard, in 1959. Brother Walter graduated in 1960 and his late wife, Louella, in 1958. The third sibling, Anne Fischer, is a Navy veteran.

The Canney family grew up in Madison, where Cora taught at Washington Grade School.  After college, Martha and Chester moved to Chicago, IL. Chester worked for JC Penney Co, retiring in 1985 as a regional merchandise manager. He passed away in 2010.

Martha's degree from General Beadle was a 2-year teaching certificate. She went on to earn bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees from Northern Illinois University. Martha taught school, but left after several years to open a private practice serving learning disabled and special education students.

In her practice, Martha focuses on individualized instruction and academic therapy for students with learning disabilities, and with students who are gifted underachievers. Martha does consulting work with school districts including teacher evaluations and in-service training, and serves as an expert witness in divorce and custody cases. She also uses hypnosis in her practice as a tool in learning, counseling, and personal growth. 

Martha lightened her caseload recently, but continues to see a few students out of her home in Palatine, IL.

The Cora Tour Canney endowment has been enriched over the years with donations by Martha's siblings. The scholarship is awarded to education majors in honor of Cora's years as an elementary school teacher, principal, and advisor to the Eastern State (now DSU) teacher-training program.

Last Updated: 1/10/12