Teaching is far more than a job. For many it’s a calling — a deep desire to help children learn and gain knowledge and skills that will help them in life.

That doesn’t necessarily end in retirement. The Bartholomew County Retired Teachers Association (BARTA) is a perfect example.

The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. BARTA started in 1966 to support schools and promote the welfare and fellowship of retired educators. It’s been successful on both fronts.

BARTA includes teachers from Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. and Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp., and has 330 members, some living as far away as Arizona and California.

The organization also supports schools through donations, member-funded grants and volunteerism.

Last year, BARTA members donated nearly 40,000 hours of help worth an estimated in-kind value of nearly $1 million. The organization provides annual grants — usually worth $450 to $600 — to nonprofit groups to support education and students. Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, Book Buddies and the Simmons Schoolhouse in Hope are among past recipients.

BARTA members also dig into their own pockets to provide up to $1,500 annually for grants to teachers and administrators. The grants assist with classroom materials, field trips, conference expenses and guest speakers, for example.

The organization and its members are to be commended for their half-century of contributions. The assistance BARTA members provide, both financially and hands-on to educators and organizations, and to each other through support, has been a tremendous benefit for the community and those who have made it their life’s work to teach.

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