By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
Long-time Leander ISD volunteer Nancy Kotlarz closes the chapter of nearly two decades of local volunteering after her youngest child graduated from Vandegrift this month.
“Staying involved with your kids and their school is key to their success,” said Kotlarz, a resident of River Place. “You may think that sending in brownies for a luncheon means very little, but you are wrong. It means a lot.”
A stay-at-home mom for the lifetime of her three children, Kotlarz volunteered in local schools for the past 17 years accruing a record of dedicated service and participation in a little LISD history.
Kotlarz helped open most of the local Four Points campuses and others too. She also donated labor to just about each one including Steiner Ranch, Laura Welch Bush and River Place elementary schools, Cedar Park, Canyon Ridge and Four Points middle schools, and, finally, Cedar Park High School and VHS.
Kotlarz concentrated most of her efforts with PTAs or PTSAs, gradually, adding in booster club work as her children progressed in school.
Scanning through memories of elementary school talent shows up to Project Graduation, she said it is hard to name the most rewarding project.
“I was honored to have worked with the kids at Steiner Ranch Elementary at the Winter Festival after 9/11 when they made those beautiful wreaths that I delivered to Ground Zero to the New York City police department, the port authority police and the fire department,” she recalled.
“Volunteering was always very fulfilling to me, and if it wasn’t one of my kids that needed me or my help, it was a teacher or another student, and I always tried my best not to let anyone down,” Kotlarz said.
Jana McCurdy thinks it would be difficult to find someone disappointed with Kotlarz.
McCurdy worked with her on various school projects from 2002 to 2013. “She organized teacher appreciation lunches and snacks for them on testing days. And whatever any kid needed, she did it for them,” McCurdy said.
Kotlarz’s compassion, McCurdy noted, went beyond campus borders. She told of a student in whom Kotlarz took an exceptional interest, even attending his graduation from the military’s basic training program after high school.
Also, after the Steiner Ranch fires, Kotlarz tried to gather replacement yearbooks for students whose’ copies burned along with their homes. “I don’t know that we got one to everybody,” she noted.
Kotlarz brushes off much more than a ‘thank you’ for her acts of uncommon empathy and kindness. “There have always been amazing women around me that have also given so much of their time. And the LISD staff I have worked with, also just amazing,” she said.
To her family, she also gives praise. “I do credit my family for always understanding my passion to volunteer.”
Kotlarz’s husband, George, is associate general counsel for IBM. Their three children are Jessica, who lives and works in Dallas, Alex, a senior at Southwestern University, and Jacqueline, who will enroll this fall at Texas Christian University.
With an empty nest but full closets, Kotlarz said, “Now, I’m going to clean my house! I have those closets that you open the door a little to throw one thing in before another falls out.”
“Kidding aside,” she concluded, “I’m ready for the next chapter in my life and the lives of my kids.”