The Kingfisher County Retired Educators’ Association meeting was held at the Kingfisher Memorial Library on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at 10:00 a.m., with three guests and nine members present.

Guest speakers David Blair and Tanya Cameron discussed the new SWARM (Students With A Role Model) program implemented in grades PreK – 6th grade during the 2023-2024 school year. This program aims to provide younger students with mentors and role models who volunteer one hour per week during the school year at Gilmour, Heritage, and KUE schools.

David Blair currently serves as president of the Kingfisher Education Foundation. Blair mentioned that both of his parents were educators, so he realizes teachers’ tremendous impact on children’s lives. Blair works for Mercy Hospital in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, as Executive Director of Revenue Cycle Performance.

He discussed the history of the Kingfisher Education Foundation, which was founded in 1985 to help provide grant funding for classrooms, school libraries, and other programs in the Kingfisher school system. As a result of the foundation’s fund-raising efforts, over $750,000.00 has been raised, resulting in nearly $1,000,000 in assets for the foundation. Last year. KEF provided $50,000 in school grants to KPS educators.

Blair stated that the foundation became aware of a need for role models and mentors for children through the efforts of KEF member Tanya Cameron, who taught for twenty-three years. Although she is now employed by NBC Bank in Kingfisher, she still has a heart for children, especially those needing additional emotional support. The SWARM program was her vision to improve public education in Kingfisher.

Kingfisher Public School counselors helped create and assemble a SWARM guide manual with helpful ideas and suggestions for mentors to use while working with children during their weekly volunteer time. The SWARM program started the year with twenty-five volunteers and is seeking additional volunteers as the need for mentors is great. If additional volunteers are available, the program may be expanded to serve older students during the upcoming school year.

In order to serve as a SWARM volunteer, individuals are required to attend a one-hour mandatory Onboard Training session held during the first week of September, following the start of the new school year. The information will be posted on the Kingfisher Education Foundation website with a link to the SWARM program.

In other business, KCREA Secretary Kathy Kadavy read the minutes from the January meeting which featured information regarding stroke prevention and awareness. Treasurer Dana Golbek stated that the KCREA bank account contained $1,041.98. Interest rates had recently risen to 3%.

Membership Chairperson LaRita Sipe stated that she is working on a flier regarding the KCREA organization; these fliers will be distributed to county educators retiring in May.

KCREA Facebook and Publicity Chairperson Deborah Maehs discussed the $5,000.00 death benefit available to retired educators through the Oklahoma Teacher Retirement System. Copies of the new form were distributed to members to complete and mail to OTRS. The form allows members to designate a funeral service to receive the full $5,000.00 death benefit, thus avoiding taxes from the state and federal governments if the benefit was distributed to an individual who was the beneficiary.

Regarding community outreach, LaRita mentioned that the Kingfisher County Fine Arts contest would be held on April 3 -4, 2024. Volunteers are needed to serve as judges and support people at the various locations. Poetry will be held at the Kingfisher First Baptist Church building on April 3, and Piano will be held at the Heritage School building on April 4.

The next KCREA Meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. at the Kingfisher Memorial Library. The guest speaker will be Kennedy Winters with Wilson Funeral Home.

Pictured Left to Right:

Cathy Howard, KCREA President; Tonya Cameron, SWARM creator; David Blair, KEF President, Debby Jorgensen, KCREA Vice-President

Submitted by: Deborah Maehs

P.O. Box 341

Kingfisher, OK  73750

(405) 368-4394