Ray and Jamie Wolman

  • Ray and Jamie Wolman could very well sport a bumper sticker that says, “We weren’t born here, but we got here as fast as we could … and stayed.” Ray was hired fresh out of Texas A&M University in 1969 by Katy ISD superintendent James Taylor (who made him promise to drive a school bus) to teach at Katy High School, where the principal was Howard McDonald (who was “like talking to your uncle”). “I felt like I’d come home.” Jamie, a Stephen F. Austin State University graduate, started her career as an elementary teacher in Anahuac in 1970, followed by two years in Galena Park, but, longing for small town atmosphere, she came to Katy in 1974.

    The Caldwell native and the girl from Anahuac met while eating lunch in the combined school cafeteria – he a biology teacher at Katy High School, she a special-needs teacher (not to mention track coach and honor society sponsor) at Katy Jr. High, located right next door. Decades later, they admit they sent notes back and forth via student office helpers. They married in 1979.

    Ray earned his master’s degree in educational administration in 1977, Jamie in guidance and counseling in 1981. When the district opened the Outdoor Learning Center in 1981, Ray applied to be its administrator, but figured the job would go to long-time history teacher and principal Kenneth Welch. When it did, he walked into Mr. Welch’s office and said, “You’re going to have to work hard to get rid of me.” Ray’s science background was a perfect match, and for the next 12 years, he taught biology half days at KHS and worked half days at the OLC. When Mr. Welch retired in 1994, Ray became the full-time instructional officer for the Center, where he managed not only day-to-day operations, but also coordinated the annual Folk Life Festival each spring and a summer recreation program for 3rd through 7th graders.

    He retired after 40 years at Katy ISD in 2011. In 1980, Jamie traded her classroom for the counseling office at Katy Jr. High, where she stayed until 1997. That year, she moved next door to Katy High School, counseling Tigers of all stripes through career choices, college applications and adolescent angst. No rocking chair for her after her retirement from Katy High in 2007: she combined her love of the outdoors and Katy’s rich historical heritage as a community specialist with the City of Katy Parks and Recreation Department. She has served as the City’s Parks and Recreation Director since mid-2010.

    The list of the Wolmans’ colleagues over the years reads like a “Who’s Who” of Katy ISD namesakes. James Taylor hired them both. Ray taught for principal Howard McDonald; Jamie for Roosevelt Alexander (“I learned so many life lessons from him”) Rodger Beck was her counseling partner at KJH. Between the two, they’ve also worked with Edna Mae Fielder, Ellen Beck, Jack Rhodes (the stadium namesake), Jack and Sharon Rhoads (of the elementary school), Polly McRoberts, Jean and Betty Schmalz, Mike Griffin, JoElla Exley, Sue Creech, Kenneth Welch and Leonard Merrell, and count among their personal friends, members of the Beckendorff and Cardiff families. “When we drive by schools, we don’t see the buildings, we see our friends teaching and working with students,” they agree.

    On being namesakes themselves: “It crosses my mind every day: How could I be in that category?” ( Jamie) “There’s no higher honor. It’s the ultimate for an educator.” (Ray) In four decades, the Wolmans have watched Katy grow from a single AA high school and junior high in a quiet farming and ranching town to a flourishing community that is a destination for people from all over the world. The most amazing part, they say, is having been able to touch the lives of thousands of kids, watch them grow up, meet their spouses and children, and now to hear stories about their grandchildren. “It’s been a special privilege to see that all happen.” Ray chaired the City of Katy’s Heritage Parks Board during the early planning and developmental stages of the park and was honored as the Katy-Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Citizen of the Year. Jamie is active in Keep Katy Beautiful, Keep Texas Beautiful, the Katy Heritage Society and the Katy-Area Economic Development Council. She served on the Higher Education Task Force for the Katy Area and is an active volunteer for Katy ISD and the Rice Harvest Festival.