Alumna plans Alleman scholarship in Gau's name

Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2014, 7:20 pm
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John Marx,
ROCK ISLAND -- Debbie Schweibert is bright, articulate, faith-filled, civic-minded and caring.
In addition to having a successful management career with Deere & Co., she and husband Mark have championed hundreds of local worthy causes.

An Alleman High School alum, Schweibert has been generous through the years, assisting in a variety of ways at the "Little School on the Hill,'' as she calls it.

As the 2014 school year begins, Schweibert wants to -- with backing from many friends of Alleman -- establish a scholarship at the school in the name of Michelle Gau. Gau, who after 32 years of dedicated service to the school, was dismissed without explanation in June from her post as assistant principal.

The dismissal caused a firestorm of support for Gau from students, alumni, parents and school staffers.

"Like many who love Alleman and still hold it dear, I was shocked by what happened to such a great person, such a tremendous administrator and outstanding educator,'' Schweibert said, adding she has not talked with Gau or Alleman administrators about the scholarship.

"I still do not understand the why of all this and quite frankly -- like many who have been left in the dark -- remain upset. This is the best way I know to honor Michelle Gau's amazing 32 years of service.''

Schweibert wants it known that Gau was tireless in her post as assistant principal, that Gau helped students gather more than 2 million pounds of food in the last decade for the Student Hunger Drive, that she founded a student ambassador program and created the Sigma Alpha Delta program, where kids take the pledge not to drink alcohol.

Gau, a mathematics whiz, tutored hundreds of students through the years and gave countless hours to help the drama department with lights and sound through its various productions. She assisted the athletic and development departments and the booster club in a variety of manners.

Gau, Schweibert says, began each day at 7 a.m., rarely left the school before 10 p.m. and worked weekends. She handled content for the school's website and even made sandwiches for the football team to eat after on-the-road football games.

Schweibert said the ball is already rolling on behalf of the scholarship in Gau's name, which will be used to help offset the cost of tuition for an Alleman student in need. The first wave of letters to what she believes will be receptive parties has been mailed.

"I have spoken with a number of individuals about a way to recognize Michelle that would be timeless and benefit the school she loves so much,'' Schweibert said. "Some of us believe a scholarship in Michelle's honor would provide a lasting tribute to her work as an educator, administrator and tireless supporter of the school.''

To contact Debbie Schweibert, call 309-278-3699.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or


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