​Jean & Betty Schmalz

  • Betty Swogetinsky was born on a farm on the Katy prairie in 1926, the second child in a family of eight children. "My teachers were my role models. I saw where college got them, and the esteem the community had for them," she says. 

    Betty graduated from Katy High School in 1943 and enrolled at Baylor University. In 1947, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and began teaching in Orange, Texas. But in 1951, Katy ISD Superintendent James E. Taylor needed a high school English teacher, and Business Manager W.D. Fussell reminded him that Betty was teaching in Orange. When Mr. Taylor called,Betty handed in her resignation at mid-term and began her 40-year career at Katy High School as the 11th and 12th grade English teacher. She spent her summers working on a master's degree, and when time allowed, traveled to Europe. She received her master's from the University of Houston in 1954, became the school librarian in 1962, and earned a master of library science degree from the University of Texas in 1967.

    Jean Schmalz was born in Marlin, Texas in 1924. One of his teachers encouraged and nurtured his art talent until he graduated from high school in 1942 and enrolled at Sam Houston State Teachers' College. But World War II was rampaging, and at the end of Jean's first semester, he received a letter from the U.S. Army that began, "Greetings..". At the age of 19, he was in the middle of the action in the Pacific Theatre and spent his 21st birthday in post-war Japan. He returned to Sam Houston State, and in 1949 earned a Bachelor of Science degree. That summer, Jean began working on his master's degree. In between his studies, he investigated school districts and sent an application to Katy ISD. He was hired as the Katy Junior and Senior High art teacher with the added responsibility of driving a school bus. In 1951, he married Katy Junior High English teacher, Lillie Bing, and in 1956, received a master's degree from the University of Houston. In 1961, Lillie died leaving Jean with two small children. In 1965, he was assigned exclusively to the high school. On his way to the school bus, Jean started making regular trips to the library and soon was dating the librarian. A week after Betty received her master s degree, Jean and Betty were married. Because Jean was a widower with two small children, Betty instantly became a mother as well as a wife.

    Betty's goal was to have a good library program at Katy High School. "I bought all the books and reference material we could afford but I didn't want the books to stay on the shelves," she said.  "I took the books to students and even let them check the reference books out overnight." During the summers, Betty and Jean often took students and adults on six-week educational tours of Europe.

    In 1981, Jean retired but was a most requested substitute teacher. Well known for his artistic talent, he helps churches with their art and visual displays. He designed the banners for the First United Methodist Church and made life-size paper-mache figures for religious services. Betty retired in 1990.