Karen Reed, Employee of the Month for January, is a Special Education secretary at Hogg Middle School, a position she has held since 2012. She walked away from a lucrative career in commercial real estate to join Team HISD, after realizing that her job wasn’t meaningful enough.
“As a research analyst, I did all this work so brokers could go home with big commissions,” said Reed. “I was padding someone else’s pocketbook, but not making a difference. I wanted somewhere for my stamp to be. These kids provide me with what I need: a purpose.”
As the Special Education secretary, Reed’s main duties involve coordinating Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings, managing the department’s paperwork and calendar, and working directly with students who receive Special Education services and their parents. She also helps organize the department’s open house events, and manages detention.
Reed is a native Texan who grew up in the Porter/New Caney area. She now lives in Houston, just one street over from Hogg Middle School. When not working, Reed enjoys shopping, playing with Photoshop, and spending time with her friends and family.
“Karen is awesome,” says Principal Mina Schnitta. “I wish I had a thousand of her. True educators are in this career because it is a calling. Ms. Reed rises to that call every day and has a servant’s heart. It is such an honor to work with such a kind and gifted person.”
“Karen took a $20,000 pay cut to work in HISD,” adds Special Education chair Kyra Wright. “But she came out of a deep desire to work with children. Here, she is known as the ‘student and parent whisperer,’ because she is always professional, calm, and positive, and she takes the time to develop authentic relationships with families. She is a true example of a caring and dedication.”
“Whatever I need help with—whether it is making copies, delivering paperwork to teachers, taking care of one of my scholars who is having a bad day, or starting my day off with a cup of coffee—Ms. Reed is there,” says Special Education teacher Shaneka Jeffery. “She regularly checks on me to see if I have what I need.”