Dearborn County Retired Teachers Take Honors


Dearborn County Retired Teachers’ delegates to the Indiana Retired Teachers Association’s Representative Assembly on June 13 at Ben Davis High School returned home excited and proud of the recognition and awards received by the local chapter.


The Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association was only one of two local associations in the state to receive Outstanding Recognition in its Public Relations’ area. This recognition consists of local association newsletters, press releases, and website work.


In volunteer service Dearborn County led the state in the collection and recording of volunteer hours for the second year.  A total of 53,396 hours was recorded by Dearborn County retired teachers.  The total state recorded hours were 910,231.  According to the Independent Sector organization at Washington D.C., each volunteer hour is valued at $24.69.  Thus Dearborn County hours totaled $1,318,347.24 of the state’s $22,473,603.39 hours.  Volunteer hours are used by retired teachers to negotiate for state benefits.


The National Retired Teachers Association each year sponsor a “With Our Youth” award for individuals in our nation that have done outstanding volunteer youth-centered service.  This year, Dearborn County’s retired teacher, Gerri Barber was the recipient of this outstanding award.  Gerri has been the organizer of the Pillowcase Dress and Shorts program that the Dearborn County Retired Teachers have been doing for a number of years.  This is the second time that Dearborn County has led Indiana in winning this prestigious award.


Dearborn County is a very active chapter in the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. The Association meets formally four times a year.  Remaining meetings for 2018 are August 21 and October 23.  The association meets in the Greendale Middle School at Lawrenceburg and all retired teachers, active teachers, or friends of education are welcome to attend. Current co-presidents Kim McGranahan and Jim Pierce preside over the meetings.




Gerri Barber – NRTA National Award Winner


Gerri Barber, DCRTA member, won the prestigious National Retired Teachers’ With Our Youth Award in recognition for her work with the Dearborn County Retired Teachers’ Pillowcase Dresses and shorts project for overseas missions.  The project which began in 2012 has sent over 5000 dresses and 1000 pairs of shorts all over the world.  Examples of destinations include orphanages and tent cities in Haiti, missions in Tanzania; Goiania, Brazil; Toga, and Manaus, Brazil.


The With Our Youth Award is presented yearly to a retired teacher who has done outstanding service for youth.  Recipients are selected by an independent panel and scored for how well the project addresses the five promises to our youth (provide caring adults, a safe place to learn and grow, health/wellness, effective education, and opportunity to serve).


Currently the retired teachers are working with Kids Against Hunger, which is partnered with A Child’s Hope International, to send dresses and shorts along with the vitamin-fortified rice that is sent to various missions.  Barber has personally taken dresses and afgans to a cousin’s church in Florida who serves a lot of Hispanic families.


In addition to her work with the Pillowcase Dresses and Shorts, Barber additionally donates time to various other local organizations, some of which includes the Dearborn County Social Council’s Friendly Visiting program, the Pregnancy Care Center, the Clearinghouse Store, PAWS, and Headstart.






The Passing of DCRTA’s Beloved President, Denise Kaffenberger


It is with much sadness that we report the death of our beloved Dearborn County Retired Teacher President Denise Kaffenberger on November 6, 2017, at the age of seventy.   Denise was such a willing volunteer.  She served both as President and Vice-President of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association.  She also was an incorporating member of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Foundation where she served as the Vice-Chair.  Retired teacher news was published by Denise in the award-winning Recess Bell, the Foundation newsletter, and the DCRTF’s Annual Report.  Additionally, she served on the Indiana Retired Teachers’ State Community Service Committee and was a member of DCRTF’s Indiana Association of Public Education Foundations.  Denise organized the 2017 outing to Beef ‘n Boards with Dearborn and Ripley counties.  The retired teachers in Dearborn County won state and national recognition under her leadership.  To say she will missed is an understatement.


Denise retired from the Lawrenceburg Community Schools where she was the Gifted/Talented Teacher.



IRTA Representative Assembly Award


The Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association returned from the Indiana Retired Teachers Association Representative Assembly jubilant over the recognition received during the Assembly.  DCRTA was recognized for the second year in a row as the leading county in the state for collection of volunteer hours.  A total of 52,639 hours were recorded by the members of the Association.  These hours are important for use with the state association in negotiating with the state legislature for a stipend or COLA to the teachers’ retirement pension.  


Also awarded at the Representative Assembly were three Outstanding Awards for Public Service Recognition.  Denise Kaffenberger received the award for the DCRTA newsletter, The Recess Bell, Betty Bourquein received the award for DCRTA/DCRTF news releases, and Dennis Bourquein received the award for the DCRTA/

DCRTF website.


Dennis Bourquein, former President of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers, was recognized for his service to the Indiana Retired Teachers Association, having served four years as Area Director, two years as Secretary-Treasurer, two years as President-elect, and two years as State President.  Dennis’ last official duty as President was presiding over the 2017 Representative Assembly.  He remains on the IRTA Board of Directors as the Immediate Past President.  The new IRTA President for 2017-2019 is Jane Boultinghouse of Spencer, Indiana. 


Dearborn County Project Activities


Dearborn County Retired Teachers have many projects and activities throughout the year. The Dearborn County Retired Teachers Foundation provides classroom grants to active teachers.  Any teacher teaching in Dearborn County is eligible to apply for the Educator Grant/Award.  To date over $11,000 has been given to teachers in the local schools.  The grant application is available on this website.


Another project that has far-reaching effects is the Pillowcase Dresses and Shorts project.  This project has brought state recognition to the Association.  Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. various members of the Association and friends gather at the Lawrenceburg Community Center to sew and make pillowcase dresses and shorts to send overseas to foreign missions. Participants do not necessarily need to know how to sew as many jobs including cutting, pinning, etc are needed.  The group is headed by Gerri Barber, a retired teacher.  Over the years the retired teachers have made and given away over three thousand dresses and two thousand shorts to children and adults in Brazil, Haiti, South Sudan, Tonga, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and India.  “Love the Hungry” out of Louisville has taken items many times along with food packages on their mission trips. The group is always looking for new participants, so if you would like to help, just show up at the Community Center on Thursday morning.  Be sure to bring your sack lunch and your machine if you wish to sew.








Each year the local chapters of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association keep track of their volunteer hours to help with State Legislative negotiations for better pension benefits for Indiana retired teachers.  Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association set an all time record for 2015 with 53,689 volunteer hours.  A total of 287 members reported hours.  Of this total 13,274 hours were with the youth of Dearborn County and 40,415 were with civic, social, church, and other community organizations. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics conversion scale at the U.S. Department of Labor, this converts to $1,210,686.95 worth of volunteer service.  Congratulation DCRTA and THANK YOU retired teachers for your service and dedication to the students and communities in Dearborn County.





Dear Dearborn County Retired Teachers,

Thank you very much for your participation in the 2015 Salvation Army Kettle Drive.  With your help, we will again be able to provide funds for those in need from Dearborn and Ohio counties.  Your efforts directly helped raise $945.08 of this year’s total of $26,607.45. 

God Bless You,

Sue Manford, Kettle Coordinator







Jessica Barber is awarded Active Teacher Grant for Area 10



Jessica Barber, a senior and an education major at the University of Evansville, was named the Area 10 winner of the Indiana Retired Teachers Foundation Scholarship for 2015. Jessica is a graduate of Lawrenceburg High School and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success at Evansville. She is the daughter of John and Ginger Barber and the granddaughter of Chase and Jeraldine Barber who are members of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association and the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. The local members of DCRTA are very proud of Jessica and her accomplishments. Area 10 includes nine counties in southeastern Indiana. This is the first time DCRTA has had a winner in recent memory. The Indiana Retired Teachers Foundation gives a scholarship each year to one student in each of the ten areas in the state. In order to apply for this scholarship a student must be an education major at an Indiana university or college and can apply with sophomore class standing for their junior year, or junior class standing for their senior year. The student must be an Indiana resident and the son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, legal dependent or spouse of an active, retired or deceased member of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association (IRTA).








State Superintendent Glenda Ritz was the guest speaker at the October 6th meeting of the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association. Approximately eighty members and guests were in attendance at the year-end dinner meeting which was held in the South Dearborn Middle School cafeteria.

Ritz discussed the goal of the Department of Education which is equality of learning opportunities and the highest quality of education for all Indiana students.  She explained that unfortunately politics have begun to interfere with the efforts of the Department with a movement to replace the Department of Education with a board appointed by the governor called the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI).


Answering questions from the retired teachers, Ritz explained how difficult it is for teachers today to do any individualized instruction in the classroom because of the need to teach “to the test.”  Teachers today are being pushed to make sure students pass state standardized tests in order for their school to achieve a passing grade as an institution and to gain the needed state financial assistance.  She explained how this stifles creativity and individualized achievements.  Ritz stated that “we are not creating learners.  We are creating test takers.”  She continued by adding that students need to be higher level thinkers and problem solvers, not just regurgitators of information.


Ritz went on to say that although the state Legislature has stated an interest in full day kindergarten and pre-school, it has never fully funded either program.  If fact, not one penny came out of the General Assembly for the pre-k program.


Ritz expounded on the new law to allow any college educated person with a “B” average to earn a K-12 teaching license in Indiana.   She explained that this had been a contentious element of teaching licensing which had been promoted by her predecessor.   Critics of the law content that this allows individuals to teach in a classroom without childhood development or classroom management training.


Commenting on the school voucher system, Ritz stated that the voucher system has nothing to do with parental choice.  Instead the system steers money away from the public schools, thus promoting privatized educational institutions.  As public school money diminishes, school programs are cut, class size rises, and salaries to encourage good teachers and innovative learning shrinks, thus, the quality of education for students in Indiana deteriorates.


Until politics are taken out of the educational system, our schools will continue to suffer.  It is important that one’s voice be heard in the up-coming election.  Ritz was given a standing ovation at the conclusion of the meeting.









In September 2014 the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association sent 121 dresses and 52 pairs of boys’ shorts to the children of Togo.  Christy Sopcisak, a missionary teacher for Fellowship International missions, is a former student of retired East Central High School teacher, Pat Thompson.  When told of the great need for the children in this African nation, Thompson turned to the retired teachers for help.


Gerry Barber, originator of the DCRTA Pillowcase Dress project said that she never envisioned how the project would grow when she first introduced the project to the retired teachers.   Over 2300 dresses and 500 pairs of boys’ shorts have been given to underprivileged children in Haiti, Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, and now Togo.  Each dress or pair of shorts takes over an hour to assemble and sew.


The retired teachers meet faithfully each Thursday at the Lawrenceburg Community Center to sew.  One does not need to be able to sew to help with the project.  Volunteers are needed to cut out the dresses and shorts, sew buttons, decorate the dresses, and much more.  For participation in the project, contact Gerry Barber 812-536-2219, or Jean Vaughan, 812-926-1978.





The Representative Assembly of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association was held on June 18th.  Attending from Dearborn County were members Denise Kaffenberger, Etta Bostwick, Judy Mosier, and Mary Weber.  Jim Pierce, out-going Area 8 Director, and Dennis and Betty Bourquein, state officer and committee chair, were also in attendance. 


Dearborn County was the recipient of several awards.  These included

a.     Area 8 Group Community Service Project Winner – Foundation and Endowment establishment

b.     Community Service Outstanding Volunteer – Jim Pierce

c.      Honorable Mention Volunteer Award – Alma Trennepohl, Cherie Rump, and Dennis Bourquein

d.     Outstanding website – Dennis Bourquein, webmaster

e.     Outstanding newsletter – Dennis Bourquein, editor of The Recess Bell

f.      Outstanding news releases – Dennis Bourquein, Public Relations Chair





The Executive Board expresses thanks to everyone for keeping track and reporting their Community Service hours.  Dearborn County had a total of 10,514 Youth Hours, 35,373 Other Hours, for a GRAND TOTAL of 45,887 service hours!  This is great!  Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics conversion scale at the U.S. Department of Labor, this converts to $1,034,751.85!


The recording and reporting of our volunteer hours to the IRTA is crucial to our COLA negotiation work done by the IRTA Executive Director, IRTA Board of Directors and Legislative Committee.  The DCRTA Executive Committee requests all retired teachers and associate members to assist in this endeavor by keeping track and reporting of all volunteer service hours. 





The Dearborn County Retired Teachers recently sent sixty-five children’s dresses, ten mamma dresses, and twenty-seven pair of boys’ shorts to Brazil through Amazon Outreach, a non-denominational mission service group.


Jean Vaughan, Lawrenceburg, co-chair of the retired teachers’ state award-winning pillowcase dress project, recently met Della Menchhofer of Versailles, in Batesville to take the outfits to the women and children living along the Amazon River from Manaus to Parintins, Brazil.  Vaughan also shared the pillowcase dress pattern and offered lots of lace and notions for the mission project.  This year’s missionary team of fifteen to twenty volunteers will be working with the Smile Train, a group of doctors specializing in the cleft lip/cleft palette.


The Dearborn County Retired Teachers pillowcase dress project started at Hamline Chapel when co-chair Gerri Barber brought the pillowcase dress pattern to the retired teachers’ coffee group so that they could begin making dresses for a mission trip to Haiti sponsored by the church.  Jean Vaughan’s step-daughter Jennifer Vaughan hand-delivered the first fifty dresses to the tent cities in Haiti.  She came back with the story of one dress which was shared by two mothers.  One mother would wear the dress to church one week while the second mother stayed home to babysit.  The next week the women traded places.  Upon hearing that story, the project developed and expanded so that over two thousand dresses have been made and distributed to villages in Haiti, Brazil, and Tanzania.  Each of the dresses have been hand-delivered so that the dresses arrive safely to the intended people.


The retired teachers continue to meet each Thursday at the Dearborn Adult Center where their materials and notions are kept.  The Adult Center graciously sets up/tears down each week for the retirees and provides ice for the seamstresses to keep their packed lunches.


Volunteers are needed to help cut out material, sew, decorate or otherwise help with the dress-making.  One does not need to be an accomplished seamstress to participate – many non-sewing jobs are required.   For information about this project, contact Vaughan at 812-926-1978.











Dearborn County Retired Teachers were pleased to learn that its Past-president, Dennis Bourquein, was elected to the position of President-elect of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association at the May 2013 Representative Assembly.  Bourquein is the first Dearborn County member to hold a state office position.  Bourquein’s term will run from July 2013 through June 2015.  Following his term as President-elect, he will automatically move into the position of State President.



Last revision: March 3, 2018