10 Nov

Texas Retired Teachers Foundation’s “A Helping Hand” Program in Action

Jane Pickett’s eyes come alive when she’s talking about jump rope. Her voice steadies and her confidence soars as she explains the techniques and intricacies involved in a sport that she coached for 25 years.

Since she was four years old, Pickett knew that she wanted to teach physical education, and after she grew up, she was so entwined with the education of jump rope that she earned the title of “The Grandmother of Jump Rope.”

Pickett’s greatest joy during her teaching career was seeing her children succeed at jump rope and in school.

“I had kids that traveled to Iceland, Canada, Japan, all over Europe, Guatemala and everywhere in the United States. These kids got quite an education through jump rope,” Pickett said. “It was wonderful. You felt like you really did have an impact just by offering the opportunity.”

However, Pickett’s time as a coach and a teacher was cut short as her body began to fail her. She retired from teaching elementary jump rope in 1995. Many years later, Pickett faced a difficult medical decision. Her teeth were experiencing a variety of issues, and after consulting specialists in Boerne and San Antonio, Pickett discovered that the procedures to fix her dental issues amounted to $7,000. If Pickett did not receive the necessary dental operations, she risked losing her teeth.

As a retired schoolteacher on disability, Pickett did not have the money to cover these costs. She was in dire straights when she attended a Hill Country Retired School Employees Association (HCRSEA) meeting. Marjorie Morgan, HCRSEA’s Foundation Representative, delivered a talk about the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) and the “A Helping Hand” program at the meeting. “A Helping Hand” provides funding to retired educators experiencing critical financial emergencies.

“I had never in my life heard of Helping Hands,” said Pickett.

Pickett filed a request for assistance through “A Helping Hand” for $1,000. She received $1,500 from TRTF. With the help of a similar program in her Presbyterian Church, Pickett was able to pay for her dental surgeries.

“It was pretty overwhelming. You don’t think once you retire, and you’re pretty much out of the picture, that anybody is thinking about you or cares about you,” Pickett said. “It was like God had sent me a tremendous blessing. It took a lot of pressure off.”

“A Helping Hand” has a tangible impact on its recipients, allowing them to resolve emergencies that otherwise could have left them homeless, unable to buy food, or left with no resources to pay for essential medical services.

More than 30% of public education retirees in Texas earn less than $1000 per month through their monthly TRS annuity. Your donations to this vital program make a huge difference in the quality of life for many retirees across the state!

Since its inception, TRTF has provided more than $200,000 to educators of the past, present and future, including more than $80,000 to retirees in dire financial need through “A Helping Hand.”

Please help us continue TRTF’s good works by donating to “A Helping Hand.” You can donate online here or over the phone by calling 1.800.880.1650.

To learn more about “A Helping Hand” or to apply for assistance, send an email to


Thank you for all that you do to support the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation and the many teachers, students and retirees whose lives are changed every day by your generosity!

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03 Nov

TRTF Classroom Assistance Grants Enabling Educators’ Successes

As each class ends, Teresa Carroll has her students form a line. She gives each child a hug, wishes them well and sends them on their way.

Carroll doesn’t get to see her students as often as she would like or for as long as she would like, but she makes the best of her circumstances by exuding energy in each facet of her teaching.

Carroll is a math interventionist at Williams Elementary, a Title I school in Georgetown. She has held her current position for seven years, and those years of experience have allowed her to master her craft. She helps poverty stricken students grasp the fundamental math concepts necessary to be successful in life.

Carroll receives the students who are struggling the most with math, and uses her 45-minute class three times a week to improve the students’ perceptions about math and about themselves.

“There’s a quote outside my door that I talk about every year with my kids, and it says something like, ‘Good mathematics is not about how many answers you know, but it’s about how you act when you don’t know,’” said Carroll.

Many of Carroll’s students already have started to give up on themselves when they first come to her classroom. Carroll describes their psyche as, “‘Oh I can’t do it, so why am I going to try?’”

To combat these negative feelings, Carroll brings the best out in her students by engaging them in fun, easy-to-use games and avoids doling out spreadsheets.

“I’ve had to teach them that it’s okay to fail and that failure is just a learning tool that we’re going to use to improve and get better,” Carroll said.

According to the Texas Tribune, 69 percent of students at Williams Elementary are considered economically disadvantaged.

Carroll recently received help with her classroom materials through a $500 classroom assistance grant from the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF). Carroll used the grant to purchase materials for a program called Do The Math. With the program’s kit, she received six student packets, a teaching packet, a multimedia CD and teaching literature.

Carroll has found the Do The Math fractions kit to be exceptionally worthwhile.

“I have seen them grow tremendously in their conceptual understanding of fractions,” Carroll said. “They gain a much deeper understanding of the concept that I am teaching them.”

Among the successes that Carroll has discovered, she has seen her students stop counting on their fingers and more quickly compute answers in their heads.

“It is extremely rewarding when the light bulb comes on and to see when they suddenly get it,” Carroll said.

Carroll feels that the classroom assistance grant was a boon to her teaching, and she feels a deep appreciation for TRTF’s charitable works.

“If you have the capability and the ability to donate to the Foundation, it is an amazing gift that you can give to somebody,” Carroll said. “It changes lives.”

TRTF delivered 15 $500 classroom assistance grants in 2015, and the organization hopes to match that amount next year, too. You can submit a donation online here or call 1.800.880.1650 to donate over the phone. Members of TRTA also received a donation card and envelope in their third quarter issue of The VOICE, which they can use to submit donations by mail.

Help celebrate TRTF’s Foundation Month by donating to one or more of its four charitable programs: “A Helping Hand,” Classroom Assistance Grants, Student Scholarships, and the Legacy Campaign.

Thank You

Thank you for all that you do to support the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation and the many teachers, students and retirees whose lives are changed every day by your generosity! Since 2008, TRTF has given more than $200,000 to educators of the past, present and future. You can donate to TRTF here or visit to learn more.

Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to keep informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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29 Oct

TRTA Members Push Congress to Act on Medicare B Premium Hike

Phone calls from Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) members have pushed Congress towards a Medicare Part B compromise. As we reported two weeks ago, Medicare Part B premiums are set to increase next year for retirees whose premiums are not automatically deducted from their Social Security benefit payments.

The originally proposed premium increase would affect approximately 30 percent of Medicare Part B recipients, including retired educators who are impacted by the Government Pension Offset (GPO) or the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) but who do not receive enough Social Security income to have their Medicare Part B premiums automatically deducted.

Also included in the proposed premium increase are retirees who receive no Social Security income due to GPO and WEP, those who will be enrolling in Medicare Part B next year for the first time and those who have higher incomes and are charged higher premiums. The other 70 percent of Social Security recipients with Medicare Part B are held harmless from this premium hike because there is no increase projected for Social Security this year.

TRTA members rallied together on this issue, arguing that the premium increase was unfair and required immediate congressional intervention.

Congress’s proposed compromise includes reducing the premium increase to 17 percent. The original premium increase would have been 52 percent. In terms of dollars, most retirees affected by this increase would pay $120 per month for Medicare Part B (with an additional $3 per month “surcharge”) instead of the proposed $159.30 per month.

This budget deal passed the House and is off to the Senate for consideration.

TRTA still contends that no Medicare B premium increase should impact one group of retirees over another, and we are still working with our members of the Texas congressional delegation to see if more can be done to reduce the impact of this proposed increase. For now, TRTA members can feel assured that their voice is being heard, and that TRTA is working diligently to help you with this important matter.

Thank you for your tireless support and ongoing effort to get results. TRTA believes that our members are the most dedicated, organized, and active advocates in Texas and in Washington, D.C.! Please let your friends and fellow TRS retirees know that TRTA is getting results, and that we will continue to make a difference if we all rally together and stay involved in our great organization.

We will keep you posted on this important matter as it progresses through the Congressional process.

Thank You

Protecting your health care benefits is one of TRTA’s top priorities, and your participation makes all of difference! Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to stay informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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