St. Lucie County Classroom Teachers’ Association and Classified Unit
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Always on call and at the ready
When Barbara Kaste retired from her job as a data processor at Floresta Elementary School in 2008, she took on the role of building her retiree chapter. There were just four members at the time, but today the chapter is 49 members strong and growing. In expanding the retiree chapter, Kaste wanted to focus on giving back to the educators and the community.
She is always looking for ideas to help mitigate the effects of the inevitable budget cuts that school districts often face. “Budgets get cut. I know, because it happened every year I worked at Floresta,” says Kaste. Each year, she and her members sponsor a “Free Market” during the local’s new teacher orientation. The event allows the novice teachers to shop for school supplies, new and used books, paper and other classroom items that the retiree chapter has collected. The goal is for new teachers to start out with many of the things they need, without having to pay for the items out of their own pockets. “It’s amazing to see the looks on their faces,” says Kaste.
The retired PSRP also had success with enlisting retiree members to help teachers fix up their classrooms at the beginning of the school year. She will try anything to make life “easier and less stressful” for teachers, Kaste says. “Teachers have enough going on that they shouldn’t have to worry.” This year, the chapter started the Retired School Volunteers Program or RSVP to help mentor new teachers.
Kaste also thinks about what the retiree chapter can do for the community. Each year, the retirees hold a food drive, and they also have collected toys for children in need and held dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The retirees also are politically active and work closely with the teachers to support them when necessary. “We are always on call and at the ready,” she says.