MOBILE — Chloe Giardina, a graduate of Robertsdale High School and a student at the University of South Alabama, is the first recipient of the William “Willie” Peck Memorial Scholarship.
Peck, a native of Sicily Island, Louisiana, longtime resident of Elberta and graduate of the University of South Alabama, died Feb. 14 from complications of COVID pneumonia.
He spent his entire career as a social studies teacher at Robertsdale, teaching government and economics.
On Dec. 18, the last day of school for the fall semester, Peck was named “Teacher of the Year at Robertsdale High School.
According to a written statement released Monday, Feb. 15 by RHS Principal Joe Sharp, that would be his last day at the school.
Peck called in sick during the return from Christmas break. On Jan. 10 he was admitted to the hospital in Pensacola and never released.
“Mr. Peck was an outstanding teacher admired by his colleagues and respected by his students,” Sharp said. “He never failed to perform his duty and he never complained. Mr. Peck was a positive presence at Robertsdale High School.”
According to a release issued Nov. 10 by the University of South Alabama College of Education and Professional Studies, soon after his passing, the William “Willie” Peck Memorial Scholarship was formed by two of Peck’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers, Ed Donaldson and Michael Summar, both alumni of the university.
“He lived the creed of our fraternity and was the epitome of ‘The True Gentleman,’” Donaldson said. “To maintain those fraternal relationships, he was part of a core group, including Michael, that began a yearly fishing trip in Orange Beach for SAE alumni. With his continued efforts, that event has occurred every year for the last 27 years.”
Summar described Peck as a leader who had a passion for education.
“Even from his early days at the University of South Alabama, Willie taught and educated his family, friends and colleagues every day,” Summar said. “He always had something new to share and a way to explain it so that everyone would understand.”
Each year a student from Robertsdale High School who plans to major in the College of Education and Professional Studies is chosen to receive the award, according to the release. The recipient must be an undergraduate student with a GPA of 3.0 and a score of 23 or higher on the ACT.
A 2021 graduate of RHS, Giardina is a freshman majoring in elementary education at USA.
“Mr. Peck was an exceptional teacher and a kind man,” Giardina said. “He fully immersed himself into his teaching career and ensured that every student's life was changed for the better when they stepped foot into his classroom. Mr. Peck was a loyal man who made everyone, including myself, feel important. He leaves behind many friends and students in my community who adore him and mourn him. I am so thankful to have been chosen to represent the life’s work of such a stellar man.”
According to the release, Giardina chose the university after taking a tour during her sophomore year in high school. Both her parents are alumni of the university.
“Chloe Giardina was an outstanding student while attending Robertsdale High School,” Sharp said. “I am sure she will make a fantastic teacher after she graduates.”
To learn more about the scholarship, visit giving.southalabama.edu/peck.