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Jo Ryman Scott

Photo of Jo Ryman Scott
Categories: 2010 Alumnae, Education


A Fairbanks resident for the past 57 years, Jo Ryman Scott is known as a passionate educator and advocate of the Arts. She has received numerous awards for her contributions in these areas, including two Governors Awards for the Arts and an honorary Doctorate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Scott grew up on a farm in South Dakota. Her first teaching experience was at Wright School, a charming one-room country school about 14 miles south of Aberdeen. She cherishes the memories of her three years teaching the wonderful children there plus carrying water every day, starting the fires on cold winter mornings, being the janitor and playing outdoor games with the kids at noon and recess. Scott credits those years as being the spring-board for developing the courage and stamina to go on to get her college degree, something many farm girls didn’t do in those days. Scott graduated from San Jose State in 1953 and decided to go to Alaska to teach rather than go to Venezuela – as some of her friends were doing. She accepted a teaching position in Fairbanks primarily because at that time, Fairbanks was the only community in Alaska that had the University.

Scott has always had creative ideas for youth. In addition to teaching in the public schools in Fairbanks, she founded Fairbanks’ first educational pre-school (1962) and a Jr. High fine arts camp (1976) held in the Scott’s yard.

Then in 1980, Scott realized her dream of establishing a study-performance arts festival in Fairbanks. She called on her friend, Eddie Madden (Boston) who knew the talented musicians to invite and the classes and concerts to offer. This event came to be known as the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival which is produced in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Scott has received many honors over the last 30 years. To name a few: Two Governor’s Awards for the Arts; an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and this year, she is honored to be inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame. She retired last summer after 30 successful seasons of producing the Festival. She is happy to help her long-time friend, Terese Kaptur in any way she can as Terese leads the Festival onward with her own creative ideas.

Dick and Jo have three children: Julie Scott and her husband, John Ryer; Bryan and his wife Lyn Collaton and their son, Ayden; and their youngest daughter, Shirley Scott. We will remember Shirley’s son, Benji, who passed away three years ago.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech