Memorial Scholarship Established to Honor Salamanca Teacher

Nelson Beard’s love for teaching took him across the globe – to South Korea and China to Hoke County, North Carolina – but he found a home as an educator in Salamanca. 

Mr. Beard, who passed away unexpectedly in 2017 at the age of 35, became a fixture in Salamanca in just three years as a member of the technology community, the building improvement teams and instructional teams of both elementary buildings, as well as the district’s professional development cabinet.

Mr. Beard faithfully and energetically taught the first, second and sixth grade classes.
His dedication to the school community led the Salamanca board of education to vote unanimously to grant him tenure posthumously.

Mr. Beard was a life-long learner. A native of Youngstown, NY, he graduated from Ithaca College with a bachelor’s degree in English before receiving a master’s in education from Niagara University.

His family, though, remembers him as a creative problem solver who looked outside of the box for answers.

Mr. Beard’s creative and pragmatic approach to teaching is best remembered by his quote, “I choose to teach kids everything they need regardless of what it is, when it is, or how often they need it.”

Though Mr. Beard may have had a short time of service in Salamanca, his impact on his students and the school community is a lasting one.

And so the Nelson M. Beard Memorial Scholarship, established at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation by the Beard Family, celebrates Beard’s impact at Salamanca City Central School and his creative problem solving for students who embody his dedication and creativity.

An annual $1,000 minimum scholarship award, the Beard scholarship will be for a student from the Salamanca City Central School District who is planning to attend a 2- or 4-year college or trade/technical school (first preference). Second preference is for a student from any school in Cattaraugus County who is planning to attend a 2- or 4-year college or trade/technical school. 

The student must be in good academic standing and should demonstrate a passion for their intended area of post-secondary study in their application goal statement. 

The award will also be for a student who demonstrates a need for financial support to attend college.

Outside of school, Mr. Beard loved cooking, fishing, and the outdoors. He applied the same passion for teaching to his hobbies, working to perfect his meat smoking techniques by building his own smoker. He especially loved his dog “Roy.”

CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit celebrated the Beard family’s tribute through this scholarship fund.

“Educators like Mr. Beard are pillars of the school community and the community as a whole,” said Buchheit. “People like Mr. Beard set an example that students aspire to.

“We at CRCF are honored to help preserve the legacy of someone who worked so hard to make his community, and by extension the world as a whole, a better place,” she concluded.

Donations can be made to the Nelson M. Beard Scholarship Endowed Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union St., Suite 203 in Olean, NY 14760 or online at cattfoundation.org.

- Cattaraugus Region  Community Foundation