Catherine "GiGi" Bethke
Catherine "GiGi" Bethke began her tenure in Katy ISD when she was hired as a kindergarten team leader in 1981 at the new Williamsburg Settlement. She flourished under the direction of Principal Diane Winborn, which the school is now named after. GiGi spent 17 years at the campus, 14 with kindergarten and three with first grade. Gigi has many fond memories of her years at Winborn. The staff, students and parents became family. She remains close friends with many of the dedicated teachers she met there.
In 1998, she continued her career as a Kindergarten Team Leader at Alexander Elementary. Under the leadership of Christie Whitbeck, she continued to thrive as an educator and had the opportunity to learn and grow from what she called the “dream team” of teachers.
Two years later, Gigi opened Creech Elementary where the significance of her accomplishments culminated. As a REACH teacher, she provided direct reading instruction to small groups of students. She mentored teaching teams and coordinated adult tutors, high school PALS and student fluency friends for primary grades. Gigi implemented a literacy coaching program. She created the “1st SPARK” program, designed to promote positive parent-child interactions as they practice essential reading and math skills using enticing games. She also established Creech’s literacy library. Campus Teacher of the Year, District-Wide finalist and Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year are just a few of the numerous awards and recognitions Gigi received over the years. Even when she retired from the district after 31 years, Gigi continued to work part-time as a GT assessment proctor and volunteer in the schools.
Everyone knows that outstanding educators have a special “spark.” It is fueled by their immense love of children and passion for the teaching profession. You can see this special “spark” when you observe their classrooms and listen to their interactions with students. Teachers with “spark” encourage creativity, pride and enthusiasm for learning. These teachers have a cheerful, positive outlook on life and incorporate the efforts of peer teachers, parents and community members in educating students. This is the legacy Gigi leaves behind.
Gigi helped children develop the attitude that school is a happy place where they learn and become successful regardless of their background or experience. She modeled the value of respect, generosity and compassion and showed students the power that words and actions have in the lives of others.