Audrey Casasent:

The following account was published in the Katy News on May 6, 2006.  Ms. Casasent was one of those rare teachers who engaged her students in and out of the classroom.  I'm guessing that none who had her for their teacher will ever forget her.  Ms. Casasent passed away on June 12, 2009 after a battle with cancer.

Audrey Casasent, a Latin teacher at Cinco Ranch high School, was selected as Texas Foreign Language Association's (TFLA) Latin Teacher of the Year for 2006.  Casasent was honored at the organization's annual Spring Conference, held recently at the Radisson Hotel in South Padre Island, Texas.

Each year, TFLA recognizes Teachers of the Year for the various languages, a college university Teacher of the Year, and an outstanding first-year Teacher of the Year.

"Ms. Casasent instills in her students a compassion for the Latin language and embellishes the Latin cultures through her enthusiasm and commitment to share this love of the language," said MayDell Jenks, director for Other Languages.  "She exhibits superior academic leadership by maintaining high standards of professionalism in education."

Casasent has played an integral part in the development of the district's newly developed vertical and horizontal curriculum.  She has also developed the district's Latin semester and final exams for all levels.  In order to stay current with Advanced Placement (AP) course requirements, Casasent has attended AP training workshops in Dallas and California.

"Magistra Casasent has a unique ability to connect with her students on a personal level, and she inspires us to achieve by using life lessons in her teaching that we can relate to," said student Lindsey Handley, who is co-vice president of Cinco Ranch's Latin Club and chair of the Junior Classical League (JCL) Area A.  "She deserves the recognition not only because she knows so much about Latin, but because of her dedication to our Latin Club and the Latin Program," added Latin Club President Kristen Dodd, who also serves as a JCL chairman.

In a career spanning 17 years, Casasent has taught Latin, English and World Mythology for three different districts.  She began her teaching career at J. F. Dulles High School in Fort Bend ISD and then spent three years teaching in South  Carolina.  She returned to the Houston area in 1999, where she took up her current position at Cinco Ranch high school.  This year, she has also taught Latin classes at Seven Lakes High School, which opened in the fall of 2005.

In addition to membership in the TFLA, Casasent is an active member of the Texas State Teachers Association, the Association for Texas Professional Educators, and the Houston Area Teachers of foreign language.  She contributes professionally to the Texas Junior Classical League and is the organizer of this year's Latin Symposium, which took place last February at Cinco Ranch High School.  Casasent chaired the district's Latin Committee in 1992 and 2004, and served on the state's Latin Textbook Review Committee for the past textbook adoption.  She is a three-time member of the Who's Who Among American Teachers program and is a past recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Casasent holds a Bachelor's degree, majoring in Classics and English, from the University of Illinois.  She earned her master's degree in Education from the University of Houston.

Founded in 1953, TFLA is a non-profit organization aimed at the advancement of the study of modern and classical languages and their literatures and cultures at all levels of instruction.

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After winning that accolade, Ms. Casasent was told by Dr. Harris, Director of Human Resources for Katy ISD,  that she could no longer "just' be at Cinco Ranch High School but had to also divide her time between Cinco Ranch and Seven Lakes AND do without a conference period!  Ms. Casasent retired immediately. What a way to treat such an outstanding teacher!  Ms. Casasent was a frequent attendee at Katy Citizen Watchdogs' events, and we welcomed her support.  When she retired, Ms. Casasent had to appeal to the AG to keep "KISD  from taking a percentage of her sick pay benefits."  I don't know if she was successful in that effort. If anyone knows about this matter (the District taking a percentage of teachers' sick pay benefits when they retire), I would also appreciate hearing about that!

Ms. Casasent was also opposed to the KMAC usurpation of teachers' lesson plans.  I agreed with her.  The reader will probably be amused at this email I sent to Audrey, but it is exactly how I feel about lesson plans!


Many teachers have told me the same thing.

I know how I would have felt when I taught if anyone had forced me to share my lesson plans with the world.  My lessons were unique to me, my knowledge, and my style of teaching.  I shared them with my friends if I thought they were smart enough to do what I had done.  I didn't want to see, at a later point in time, that someone had messed up while using my stuff.

This whole lesson plan thing has always been a bugaboo for me.  When I was a teacher myself, I dug my heels in and refused to turn in lesson plans when "they" first started asking for them.  The truth was, I didn't have any.  I was smart enough and knew enough to walk in every day cold and teach my subjects.  I'm betting you could do the same.  How hard is it, anyway if one is smarter than the students?

After "they" insisted, I wrote up junk lesson plans, because I didn't want them pilfering my stuff. I turned in the same ones year after year because I knew they didn't look at them.  I was the one who had gone to all the trouble to create them, do the research, find and read all the resources, and I didn't think it was right for some other teacher to get a free ride on my back!

Guess I don't have a very good attitude! The idea of "can't we all just get along" no matter where it presents itself is always anathema to me.


Ms. Casasent was a unique person and teacher.  They don't make them like Audrey any more.

Here is her obituary: 

Audrey Joyce Malinowski Casasent

AUDREY JOYCE MALINOWSKI CASASENT, 66, of Katy, died June 8, 2009 after a battle with cancer. She was born October 18, 1942 to Victor and Lillian (Wisniewski) Malinowski in Chicago, and attended to University of Illinois, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in classical languages. She later earned a Master's of Education from the University of Houston. Audrey was a dedicated teacher of Latin, which she loved, bringing to life a so-called dead language for hundreds of students. She was Junior Classical League sponsor for generations of beloved Latin students, and was a lifetime member of the American Classical League. She is survived by her son, Tod Casasent of Houston, Texas; son, Jon and his wife Beccy and granddaughter, Jade Casasent of Katy, Texas; brother, Robert "Bob" and his wife Barbara Malinowski of Oceanside, California; special lifelong friends, Nancy Snyder of Woodridge, Illinois, Steven Snyder of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Scott Snyder and his wife Tracy of Hollywood, California; longtime friend, Patricia Varvel of Katy, and Brian and his wife Terri and their daughter Lexi Varvel of Katy; and longtime teaching friends, Heidi and Rick Kirby and their daughters, Sarah and Hannah of Katy; sister-in-law, Ruth Malinowski of Bloomingdale, Illinois; niece, Caryn and her husband Jason Shields and great-niece, Chelsea Alden and great-nephews, Zachary and Eric Shields of Pleasanton, California; niece, Julie and her husband Bruce Stelzner and great-nephews, Ryan and Nicholas of Carlsbad, California; nephew, Michael and his wife Melanie Malinowski and great-nephews Miles and Maclain of Austin, Texas. She was preceded in death by her parents; and brother, Victor Malinowski. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, 2009 at the Schmidt Funeral Home Chapel, in Katy, with Rev. Mike McGown officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, Texas 77210-4486 or to Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, 3601 Fannin, Houston, Texas 77004. Schmidt Funeral Home 1508 East Ave., Katy, TX 77493 (281) 391-2424