Mickey and Jeanne Klein

Description: Mickey and Jeanna Klein

Photograph by Michael L. Gillette

“There’s an old saying: ‘To those who much is given, much is expected’, and it is very satisfying to give back to this world.”

Michael (Mickey) and Jeanne Klein have been part of the UT Elementary family for eight years. In addition to being members of Visualize Graduation Society and generous supporters of UT Elementary’s capital campaign, they support the school as members of the Development Council capital campaign committee. Mickey additionally volunteers regularly in the school’s fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms, and Jeanne supports the school’s social and emotional learning program (SEL).

“Jeanne and her friend, Betsy Abell, made the SEL program what it is today,” said development officer, Angie Yowell.

It was social and emotional learning – the capacity to recognize and manage emotions, solve problems effectively, and establish positive relationships with others – at UT Elementary that initially attracted the Kleins to the school.

“We like that the students at UT Elementary are getting the requisite support they need when it comes to matters other than the solid subject,” said Mr. Klein.

From the beginning, it was clear to the Kleins that they shared many values with UT Elementary.

“Put simply,” said Mr. Klein, “it was a good fit. It felt right, and every day that I’m here it feels more and more right.”

When asked what he hopes his and his wife’s contribution to the school will be, Mr. Klein said simply: “I want [UT Elementary students] to know that someone else cares about them.”

Fifteen years ago, Mickey and Jeanne created an opportunity for teenage boys from Houston to attend Magic Johnson’s basketball camp in California.

“The idea was for us to get to know them, them to know us, stay in touch, and help them with their college education,” said Mickey.

From 300 applicants, the Kliens with the help of some friends selected 20 to attend the camp. They would fly with them to California, and stay with them during the week of the camp. They did this for six years, and during their second year there, Magic Johnson spoke to the Kleins. He thanked them for the support they were providing to these kids, and told them how he had similar support growing up.

“He told us how the main thing we were doing for these kids was showing them that someone else cares about them and their future,” said Mr. Klein.

“That’s all we can do for [UT Elementary students],” said Mr. Klein humbly. “We can’t influence them to become doctors or police officers. We can’t teach them science or spelling –they have great teachers for that – but we can show them that someone else cares.”

Mickey and Jeanne’s support and influence is evident throughout the school’s curriculum, facilities, and most importantly in the classrooms.

“By interacting on a very personal level with my fifth graders during their social studies and service learning lessons, Mr. Klein has brought a whole new level of understanding and appreciation for history and philanthropy to my classroom,” said fifth-grade teacher, Mary Ledbetter.

“What could be more meaningful during an immigration unit than hearing about how both his grandparents and Mrs. Klein’s grandparents arrived in the U.S. together at Ellis Island? It means so much to our Little Longhorn philanthropists to be told that they are making a difference in the world from someone who does so much for us.”

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