KATY MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2019
By Addie Davis
For nearly two decades, Katy Area Retired Teachers (KARE) has fostered an educational community for former teachers, administrators and school staff while investing in the future generations of teachers.
Retired Educators Unite
In 2000, a group of 16 retired teachers met to form a local unit of the state organization, Texas Retired Teachers Association, called KARE. Today, this chapter consists of 235 members and expects more to join in the fall. Members stay in touch with former colleagues and meet new ones through the KARE-sponsored events, meetings and volunteer opportunities.
KARE Shows They Care
After dedicating their careers to helping Katy students, KARE members now enjoy the chance to give back to the community and connect with other former teachers.
“KARE members provide over 42,000 hours of community service to the Katy area,” said 2019-2020 KARE President Earlene Hopkins.
Members donate their time mentoring and tutoring students and volunteering in local schools for a variety of projects and events. Last year, KARE members volunteered in programs such as KEYS Mentors, Promise to Read, substituting, Angler Education and the Katy ISD Education Foundation.
KARE members at the Texas State Capitol for Rally Day
KARE has several committees within the organization that oversee events, fundraising, membership and wellness. They also have an active legislative committee that works with local and state officials to improve benefits such as pensions and insurance.
"KARE is an education-centered organization of retired public school employees that advocates for member benefits and promotes the well-being of its members," said Hopkins.
Katy ISD elementary school namesake Jamie Wolman is KARE's Chairman of the Community Volunteer Services Committee.
“KARE is an amazing organization that keeps retired educators informed of legislative issues, health care issues, community activities, school news, volunteer opportunities, fellowship and many relaxed laughs with former educators,” says Wolman. "It is amazing how much these retirees continue to give back to our community.”
Nurturing the Future
KARE is committed to helping students pursuing careers in education through scholarships. In April of this year, KARE awarded eight Katy ISD high school seniors with $1200 scholarships, each, to help them pursue their degree in education.
Applicants were required to meet specific criteria to be considered for a scholarship. They presented clearly defined career goals for teaching grades K-12, indicating what grade level and subject. Candidates were also required to prove financial need and have at least a 3.0 GPA.
Fred and Patti Shafer have their name on another elementary school in Katy, and are members of KARE. "The KARE scholarships provide financial support to deserving students who are going into the field of education," says the Shafers. "Many of the students who graduate with a degree in education will come back to work in Katy ISD. In a way it helps to ensure the district continues to employ quality teachers."
KARE raised the funds for scholarships through raffles, events and donations. Raffles are held at every KARE meeting and donations are solicited from local businesses and organizations. Several KARE members, known as “namesakes,” help provide funds as well.
Supporting Katy ISD Libraries
“We have an annual book drive with members giving books and funds to purchase books to several local schools, libraries, and community organizations,” says Hopkins.
Dr. Ann Lalime (Golbow Principal) Melinda Webb (Golbow Librarian) with Mark Shaver (author of "Dakota's Daring Adventures") and KARE members Cindy Katz and Karen Attaway.
This year KARE members collected 1811 books and donated them to the elementary school libraries at Golbow, West Memorial, Cimarron and Franz.
“This year four schools were chosen for a variety of reasons, such as building classroom libraries, special programs, and summer reading programs,” said Cindy Katz, Co-chairperson for the 2018-2019 KARE Book Project.
“KARE represents anyone who has worked in a school district and retired through TRS,” says Brenda Shaver, KARE Publicity. “This includes all employees from custodian to superintendent.”
Other people who are interested in supporting the goals of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) are welcome to join as associate members.
Tom Wilson, KARE member, also has an elementary school in the district named for him as a tribute to his dedication to education in the community. He understands the importance of KARE and encourages more people to join.
“Every retired Katy ISD employee or Katy-area former educator should join KARE," Wilson says. "Meeting each month helps to keep those friendships and professional relationships together. KARE also keeps you abreast of the latest activities with State education and teacher agencies as well as local educational issues.”
The theme for KARE this year is: KARE…solving the puzzle of an A+ Retirement. Categories/puzzle pieces of retirement will include: Travel, hobbies, family and friends, volunteerism and personal development.
“All the pieces of the puzzle for an active and satisfying retirement will be covered in our programs, projects, and events that we hold during the school year,” says Hopkins.
From Left: Karen Thornton, Andrea Duhon, May Dell Jenks, Earlene Hopkins, John Zerwas, Mike Schofield, Marsha Smith, Valeree Swanson, Mike Collier, Rita Lucido, John “Hawk” Hawkins, Meghan Scoggins, Gina Calanni, Dorsey Reese.
KARE will begin their year on August 14 with their annual “Hooky Day” meeting. The event will be held at the Merrell Center ESC from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm on August 14.
KARE Officers for the 2019-2020 School Year
President: Earlene Hopkins
1st Vice President: Lee Ann Nuckles
Co-1st Vice President: Felice Bryant
2nd Vice President: Marsha Smith
Historian: Karen Thornton
Treasurer: Kathy Land
Secretary: May Dell Jenks
Immediate Past President: Gerald Young
All public school employees who retired under the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) are welcome to attend and bring a retired educator, friend or neighbor who is not a current member to meetings.
To become a member of KARE, attend a meeting, or donate a book, visit their website.