Hall of Leaders - Volunteers

Jan Mees

Jan Mees served the Columbia Public Schools as a library clerk for four years at Fairview Elementary and then as a library media specialist for 17 years, including as the media director at Hickman and as the specialist at Lange and multiple elementary schools. Following her retirement, she continued to serve the community and the schools. Jan was elected to the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education in 2007 and served four terms, including three years as president of the school board.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree in French secondary education from Purdue University and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Jan also is past president of the Missouri School Boards Association and has been a delegate to the National School Boards Association. Among her honors, she is the recipient of the Columbia Fund for Academic Excellence Award as the Outstanding Educator in a Specialized Area and as the Columbia Community Teachers Association Award for Secondary Educator of the Year.

Lisa Fritsche

Lisa Fritsche began volunteering for the Columbia Public Schools the day her oldest child entered kindergarten in 1990. She remained a tireless volunteer through the day her fourth child graduated in 2012, and today still volunteers weekly in a fifth-grade classroom at Paxton Keely Elementary. She has also volunteered at Fairview Elementary, Smithton Middle School, West Junior High School, and Hickman High School.

Lisa has served on the PTSA board at Smithton Middle and Hickman High Schools and as a three-time co-chair of the Senior All Night Party for graduating seniors.

In addition to her work on behalf of the schools, she has been a troop leader for three different Girl Scout troops. She also is a member of the Children’s Grove board and serves as the Kindness Library Chair. She serves the Columbia Public Library as the co-manager of the Friends’ Children’s Books. A history buff, she appeared as a contestant on the television game show “Jeopardy” in 2008.

Karen Rawlings

Karen Rawlings has been an active volunteer with the Columbia Public Schools since 1975. She has volunteered in the library, health room, at field days, book fairs, science fairs, and as PTA president, as well as PTSA president at Hickman High School. She chaired the Hickman Music Boosters organization, which raised more than $40,000 to send the school chamber choir to Vienna, Austria. She was the first non-student to receive the Super Kewp Award.

When the Volunteers in Columbia Schools and the Partners in Education program were being established, Karen worked closely with Jolene Schulz at CPS to bring these two opportunities in volunteerism to fruition. Karen remembers spending time in nearly every school in the district, training teachers, parents and community volunteers in the merits of these programs. She was recognized by the National Association of Volunteers in 1991 for these contributions.

In addition to her numerous community involvement with other organizations, Karen volunteers at the Early Childhood Learning Center through the Partners in Education program. Karen and her husband, Dave, are founding members of the Columbia Public Schools Foundation, and Karen is also a past CPSF board member.

Traci Rogers

Traci Rogers moved to Columbia from Atlanta, Georgia, and has been an active volunteer and PTA officer at three schools. Traci is an IBM project manager and mother of two CPS students. She has logged more than 1,250 volunteer hours through the IBM Volunteer program, which issues grants for organizations each year. By logging over 100 hours annually, Traci has received four $2,000 grants for Paxton Keely Elementary and Jefferson Middle School.

Traci also has served as PTA president for the past four years at Paxton and Jefferson and led several committees for each school. She volunteers additional hours on the weekends to support all-day events such as the Robotics Regional Tournament. Traci also joined a CPS boundary committee to balance middle school populations.

Traci was nominated for an Outstanding Volunteer in Education by the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Hero Awards. She also was a 2017 IBM Volunteer Finalist and one of 36 nominees chosen globally.

Carol Almony

Carol Almony taught grades kindergarten to fourth in the Columbia Public Schools from 1984 until her retirement from teaching in 2007. After a distinguished career as a CPS teacher, Carol has volunteered her time and talents to benefit even more generations of Columbia’s students. As a volunteer, she has assisted kindergarten to fourth-grade students daily at Fairview Elementary from 2013 to the present, working with students on academic and literacy skills, helping at-risk students and providing enrichment and extension activities such as nonfiction research.

Carol spends an average of nine hours per week at Fairview during the school year. She also has mentored a child for the past two years. She helps with classroom parties, kindergarten field days and field trips, and also provides classroom supplies, books or snacks to classrooms as needed. Carol works with individual students, small groups and whole group activities with classrooms.

Among her honors, she received the Ray Lewis Outstanding Elementary Educator of the Year Award for grades PreK-3. She is a member of the Missouri Retired Teachers Association.

Stephen Calloway

Stephen Calloway served as a member of the Columbia Public Schools District Board of Education. He is a leader dedicated to eliminating the achievement gap in public education and has served in various organizations and capacities working to address this gap in our community.

-Founding member, past president and current board member of Columbia Parents for Public Schools. The group was first formed in 1999 in response to the failure of a CPS bond/tax levy.

-Currently serves as National Board President of Parents for Public Schools, Inc. of which Columbia Parents for Public Schools is an outstanding member Chapter.

-President of the Minority Men’s Network (MMN), a local civic group made up largely of African American professional men serving the community. The

-MMN Educational Foundation has provided scholarships to CPS students since 2003. Drs. Eliot Battle and Arvarh Strickland were the co-conveners of the Minority Men’s Network.

-West Boulevard “Stand-By-Me” Program Mentor, 2004-2007

-Co-Chair of Columbia Public Schools (CPS) Achievement Gap Task Force, 2003-2004 with Mr. Skip Deming; 2005-2006 CPS Achievement Gap Task Force co-chair with Dr. Cheryl Cozette

-Elected to Columbia Public Schools District Board of Education, serving from 2006-2009; Board Vice-President and Finance Committee Chair 2008-2009. Our Board was responsible for hiring Dr. Chris Belcher as Superintendent in 2009.

-Helped plan and conduct CPS World Café Discussion Series on the Achievement Gap beginning in November 2010; coordinated Community Work Groups formed as a result of the World Café meetings.

-Founding member and Co-Chair of Cradle-to-Career Alliance, part of the StriveTogether Network. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network is a national network of 63 community partnerships in 32 states and Washington, D.C. working to improve educational success for every child by bringing together cross-sector partners around a common vision.

Much of my interaction with Columbia Public Schools has been the result of my awareness and concern about the achievement gap. The Columbia Public Schools District is exceptional, and Iris and I are thankful that both our adult sons received a quality public school education. As an African American male and the father of two African American males, it concerns me greatly that too many of our African American males are not finding success in school and life. Doing everything I can to support efforts to close the achievement gap and personally contribute to the success of African American males especially, is what motivates my involvement with CPS and our community. Columbia is a resource-rich district that provides high-quality instruction and diverse extracurricular opportunities and programs, and benefits from amazing community volunteers. I believe our educators, CPS leadership and the Board of Education are committed to the success of all students, but the community needs to be “all-in” if we’re going to eliminate the achievement gap. We can do this!”

– Stephen Calloway


Kerri Packard

Kerri Packard has been a dedicated supporter of Columbia Public Schools, where she served as a volunteer, PTA member, and music booster, among many other roles.

-Member of PTA and volunteer for various school events and committees at Benton, Fairview, Paxton Keeley and Smithton including Library Volunteer Coordinator, 5th Grade Party Committee, Nominating Committees, and Room Parent.

-Awarded Missouri PTA Volunteer Award in 2009

-Member of PTSA and President of VIBCOR (Vikings in Band, Choir and Orchestra) at West Junior High School

-Member of PTSA and volunteer for various school events at Hickman High School and Rock Bridge High School

-Member of the Hickman High School Music Boosters and held the following positions: President 2010-11, Vice President 2009-10, Uniform Committee Chair 2009-12, Teacher Appreciation Committee 2009-12, Choir Motivation Committee Chair 2011-12, Choir Fundraising Chair 2010-11

I had the greatest role models of this saying in my parents: A.W. and Judy Bradley. They volunteered in the community and in the schools. I witnessed firsthand the benefits that came to the school, staff, students and even to the volunteers. When my own children started school, there was no question that I would be involved. Little did I know how enriched my life would be through my work with CPS. I will always think fondly of the times I helped a child select a “just right” book in the library, brought in a meal for conference-weary teachers or handed out water to a thirsty marching band member. Great memories and friendships were made along the way. I wasn’t paid in money but in smiles! I am humbled to be recognized by the Columbia Public Schools Foundation and grateful for the opportunity to do something for our schools.”

– Kerri Packard

Libby Reid

Don Ludwig

Wally Pfeffer

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