Carol Plassman Creates Endowment to Benefit Student Teachers

carol plassmann with two local residents
Carol Plassman (left) with local residents.

Retired teacher recalls sharing her vacation treasures with middle school students

By Julie Cooper

Carol Plassmann (B.S. ’69) says she always knew she wanted to be an educator. As the only child of a teacher, she would often visit her mother’s classroom and would play school with her friends. In high school, she was part of a future teachers group.

Even in retirement, she hasn’t stopped thinking like an educator. In the spring, Carol and her husband, Charles Plassmann, toured Tanzania and had the opportunity to visit schools. Charles says that they visited two schools — a Masai village preschool that had no roof and the Kibaoni Primary School in the Arusha Region with as many as 100 students in a classroom. The couple also had the opportunity to make a donation to both schools. Carol enjoyed the children and visiting with the teachers. “She established a good connection,” Charles says.

It is that kind of teacher connection that has prompted the couple to establish an endowment at Texas State University. The Carol Plassmann Endowed Scholarship will benefit students pursuing their teacher certification while student teaching. It is the first of its kind for the College of Education.

“We’re very grateful to the Plassmanns for their generosity and also their leadership in establishing our first endowed scholarship specifically for student teachers,” says College of Education Dean Michael O’Malley. “Support for student teachers is a priority for us, given that our aspiring teachers can experience unique financial stressors in their last semester due to the full-time nature of unpaid student teaching in tandem with related university coursework, which limits time available for income from part-time work. This scholarship will help students complete their degree and make the most of their student teaching experience to become the highest quality teachers for the schools of Texas.”

Carol is a native Texan. Her father, Louis James, attended Texas State for one year before the start of World War II. He enlisted in 1943 and served as a combat cameraman in the Pacific Theater. After returning home to Belton, he ran a successful photography business and his wife, Marie, taught school in Belton. The family moved to Austin in the 1960s.

When it came time for college, Carol says she was ready to leave Austin and Texas State was close enough to please her parents.

“It was just wonderful. I am glad I went here because it was what I needed,” she says. She immediately joined the Delta Zeta sorority.

“The professors were wonderful — so kind. I remember Dr. Little, a history professor who would loan me books from his personal library. I also had a geography teacher who was there when I needed help,” she says.

When she graduated in 1969 with a degree in elementary education, Carol was married and had a son, John. She would later earn her K-12 teaching certification.

She did student teaching in a Del Valle first-grade class. When it came time to teach full time, Carol opted for middle school history. She says she mentored at least three student teachers during her career. “I was not ever going to turn one down,” she says. “They were great teachers, but they were apprehensive (at first),” she says.

Asked to give advice to new student teachers, Carol hesitates only slightly. She urges student teachers to be observant, take notes, and make students comfortable. “Relax, enjoy it, and don’t let it overcome you,” she says.

Carol retired in 2004 after a career teaching in private and public schools in Spring and Tyler.

The Plassmanns will celebrate 40 years of marriage in 2020.

They met in 1979 when Charles, a veteran, was a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin. In addition to her son, the couple has a daughter, Elizabeth Ann Hildenbrand.

Carol and her husband reminisce about vacations spent at historical sites around the U.S. “We dragged our daughter along the Oregon Trail route, and we went to just about every Civil War battle site in Tennessee and Virginia,” Charles says. Carol enjoyed sharing these experiences with her students, returning each fall with treasures collected along the way. “I never really taught in affluent surroundings,” she says.

Her teaching included trying to find “off-the-wall things to tell them about history — and to see their eyes light up.”

Charles says Carol was a good disciplinarian as a teacher. She says her mother taught her “the look” that kept the students in line.

“I loved every minute,” she says, before Charles adds one more comment.

“She loved it when kids would come up to her and say, ‘Hi Ms. Plassmann. You’re my favorite teacher.’”