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2012 Inductees - Kathy Brack and TJ Croco

Kathy BrackKathy Brack

Kathy Brack was a teacher with the Clear Creek and Clear Creek Amana Community School District for 34 years. In the fall of 1974 Ms. Brack began her career as a teacher’s aide at Cosgrove. The next year she was hired as a teacher and had the honor of teaching her own brother’s class, which some have said taught her how to manage a classroom. She was hired as a middle school language arts teacher.

Over the years Ms. Brack directed the school play, coached high school speech, chaperoned cheerleaders, kept score at athletic events, announced athletic events, chaperoned dances, mentored teachers, and for ten years took groups of students to Washington DC over Spring break.

To say that Kathy Brack has been involved in the school is a gross understatement. For many years she showed a passion for students and teaching that was evident the second you walked into her classroom. Students did not always appreciate Ms. Brack’s demand for respect and passion in the classroom until years after they had left her lessons. Many students over the years have reflected on the impact that Ms. Brack had on their lives. Students also came to understand that her passion and excitement was driven by a love for kids. One of Ms. Brack’s favorite things to do today is share with others what former CCA students are now doing— keeping track of them in person and via Facebook. She is a firm believer in being a lifelong learner and never tires of sharing that with her former students.

Ms. Brack was a pioneer at Clear Creek Amana for incorporating technology into her classroom instruction. She not only requested, but wrote and received grants to purchase technology for student use. She truly was a leader that paved the way for technology and instruction at our school.

Although Ms. Brack retired from Clear Creek Amana in 2008, she has not gone away! Yes, she has taken trips to Alaska, Florida, Ireland, Germany, Austria, North Carolina, New York, Maryland and cruised the Caribbean but she also continues to volunteer and substitute in the Clear Creek Amana District. She has volunteered as a Junior Achievement teacher at Clear Creek Elementary. She is also an avid knitter that knits caps for premature infants at the University of Iowa Hospital. Ms. Brack has also donated gallons of blood over the years as a blood donor. She loves to read and do counted cross-stitch in her spare time. Kathy Brack tries to attend many Clear Creek Amana events— supporting academic and extra- curricular excellence.

Ms. Brack currently lives in her home in Oxford. She’s an active member of St Mary’s Church where she is a lector, Eucharistic minister, religious education teacher, church secretary/bookkeeper, and recently named as pastoral associate. She has also volunteered as chaperone for youth trips to the National Catholic Youth Conference.

Ms. Brack has a daughter Sara and a grandson Tyler. She also has a large extended family— all within 30 minutes of Oxford. Ms. Brack regularly hosts 25+ family members and former students at various holidays and celebrations.

Congratulations Kathy on your induction into the 2012 Hall of Fame!

TJ Croco

TJ Croco grew up in Laramie, Wyoming. He earned three degrees from the University of Wyoming and became a counselor at Corwith-Wesley, Iowa from 1973-1976 and at West Branch from 1977-1983. He joined the Clear Creek Amana Community School District as the counselor in 1983. At the old Amana school TJ also taught biology, chemistry, physics, computer technology, and environmental issues. After the merger, he worked in the middle school building. Since retirement he has continued to substitute in the district.

TJ has been a bus driver since he moved to the district in 1983. For 20 years he has been the Pool director at the Amana Site. Since Pat Kellenberger retired TJ has also been the maintenance person for the pool. He has been the coach of the CCA Middle School Swim Team since 1992. TJ was a Student Council Sponsor, first at Amana and then with the Middle School.

TJ started at Amana as a volunteer for the old Amana VIP Golf Tournament. After its demise TJ, Arlene McBride, and Marilyn Jeck took the lead in championing many activities that enriched student experiences, the school, and the community. Many projects led to memorable trips for students (Chicago, Omaha, St. Louis, etc.), breakout day classes, skiing, equipment for the schools, carnivals at Oktoberfests, and holiday food donations for needy families. The CCA Middle School Student Council started the District Wide Food Bank. TJ took this on until his retirement. Since retirement he has continued to be the “point person” for the Amana end of the district.

TJ joined Boy Scouts in first grade and has been involved since then. He has been an assistant scoutmaster and is currently on the board of Troop 223.

Mental health is an important issue for everyone in our district. TJ is currently serving on the board of directors for the Community Mental Health Center in Iowa City. This outstanding organization serves people in both Johnson and Iowa Counties.

The American Red Cross has always been an important part of TJ’s life. He recently received his 40-year volunteer service pin. He is a long-time member of the Board of Directors. First Aid, CPR, swimming, and lifeguarding have been his areas of interest. He continues to teach these courses. He teaches Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguarding Instructor courses for the University of Iowa Recreation Services.

TJ has served on many school/community groups during his years in the area. He was active in the merger of the districts, long-range planning and improvement, and building project committees. He is a member of the CCA Foundation that promotes scholarships.

He also is the president of the Board of Advisors for Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at the University of Iowa. He has also been involved in politics and in his church.

TJ is married to Janet. Janet is a microbiologist and is also among the “working-retired.” She works part-time at JMI in North Liberty. All four of their children graduated from Clear Creek Amana. Matthew, his wife, Liz, and their kids, Samantha, Dillon, and Kathryn, live in Coralville where he operates Croco Orthodontics. Kathryn and husband, Joe, live in Denver where she is a lawyer and a librarian for the Colorado Supreme Court. Erinn taught in Harlem, New York City for Teach for America and is planning to attend medical school. Alana is a Treatment Counselor for Tanager Place in Cedar Rapids. TJ’s father, Joe, is 95 and lives in Colonial Manor in Amana.

As a retiree TJ keeps busy. In addition to volunteering, subbing, and working at the pool, he is completing a mountain cabin near Laramie, Wyoming. He enjoys working in his garden and engaging in the construction trades. He always looks forward to catching up on the lives of former students. TJ says, “My philosophy has always been that people are essentially good. It’s wonderful to see familiar faces of former students and to catch up on their lives. I’ve never lost my interest in the people of our community. I look forward to many more years of school and community involvement.”

Congratulations TJ for your continued support and service to the CCA Community.