Kidz Connection liaison retires after 36 years of service
By BY CAROLINA ASTRAIN - CASTRAIN@VICAD.COM
Feb. 2, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 1, 2013 at 8:02 p.m.
If they didn't have a roof over their heads, Mary Post tried her best to get them one.
Photos of students with their families cover a small piece of wall in her executive-sized office.
A plaque on her door cleverly labeled "Post's Office" greets visitors to the homeless and students-at-risk center across the street from Patti Welder Middle School.
Post turned in her keys Thursday afternoon after having served as VISD's lead teacher liaison for Kidz Connection for the last 16 years and as a district employee for 36 years.
She started out as a basketball coach for VISD in 1977.
"I trained the first Lady Comets," said Post with nostalgia glossed over her eyes. "It was the first year we had sports for middle schools in Victoria."
During the time she coached the Lady Comets, the team had a 22-game winning streak. And she stood on the court as their coach on the night of their first loss.
"I cried and cried," Post said. "I still try to get together with former Lady Comets today."
Post also coached basketball at Travis Middle School and St. Joseph High School.
Post was teaching science at Patti Welder Middle before she took on a new role as a teacher liaison for Kidz Connection in 1997.
"Our goal was to get homeless and at-risk students to enroll, attend and succeed in school," she said.
And since, Post said the program has managed to build a good rapport with area families in need.
"It's hard for a child to learn without some sort of stability in life," Post said. "I knew a homeless family of six that was sleeping in the parking lot of a hospital."
Post said she helped that same family find a home and avenues of success within the school district.
"That family is no longer homeless," Post said. "It was one of my first cases at the center."
The Kidz Connection mission started in 1994, but the program was suspended after they lost grant monies need to fund the program.
A few years later the program recouped its funding through the Texas Homeless Education Office and local donations.
New shoes, socks and baby clothes are just a few of the items high on the organization's list of priority donations.
"There are always going to be children sleeping on the streets," Post said. "Our goal is to get them a home, get them furniture and attend school."
Aside from providing homeless, at-risk students with housing, the center also coaches students on goal setting.
"We stress that education is the main way to get out of a bad situation or homelessness," Post said. "For goal setting, we like to focus mainly on secondary education students."
Although Post said she plans on returning to the center as a part-time employee, her last day was Thursday, after a month of retirement.
In late January, family and friends gathered to wish the retiree luck in her new adventures outside the office with cake and barbecue.
"I think it's too bad, but I think she deserves it," said former choir teacher Lynn Gallager. "She's not going to disappear in the fog."
Post said she had mixed emotions during her last days of work.
"I'm already starting to miss the kids," Post said through tears over the phone before her last day at work. "Whether it's a student from Kidz Connection or any of the places I've taught at, I know they will always remember me, and I'll always remember them."