Longtime educators Cari (left) and Vern Andrews of Holton will be inducted into the Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame for their work in the community — Vern with Charitable Vending and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and Cari with the Banner Creek Science Center and Observatory. (Photo by Brian Sanders)

Vern and Cari Andrews named to Chamber Hall of Fame

Vern and Cari Andrews of Holton are, first and foremost, educators — he at Jackson Heights High School, she at Holton Elementary School.

But they’re also promoters of the community they call home, Vern through his work with the Charitable Vending program and its affiliation with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and Cari through her work at the Banner Creek Science Center and Observatory.

That involvement has earned them a place among this year’s Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce honorees, which Cari said left her “shocked” at first.

“I prefer to be in the background,” she said.

They’ll be honored alongside David and Evelyn Allen, Chris Mercer and Dean Tuley at the upcoming Hall of Fame recognition banquet this coming February.

Their respective work with Charitable Vending and the Science Center stands as a reflection of their upbringing, a fact evident when Vern talks about his younger years in Marquette, a farm community west of Lindsborg where he was among the last class of high school graduates before the schools consolidated into the Smoky Valley district.

“I really didn’t know at that point what I wanted to be,” he said. “We grew up very poor. But I knew that I was going to go to college. I knew I was going to do something.”

Cari, who grew up in Lawrence, knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher, following in the footsteps of her parents and her grandfather.

“I always knew that this is what I was called to do,” she said. “There were other things that I was interested in doing, but nothing as much as teaching.”

Vern decided during his college years to seek a career in teaching as well, and after college, he found himself at Jackson Heights. Meanwhile, Cari graduated from college and took a teaching job at Tonganoxie, where Vern’s sister-in-law worked as a speech pathologist and invited the two of them over to play cards one night.

The next weekend, the two of them started dating, and they eventually married in 1994. Cari took some substitute teaching work at Holton’s elementary schools before joining the district full-time in the 1995-96 school year, teaching fifth-grade classes for most of that time while Vern continued at JHHS, where he worked to expand technology available to students and staff.

“I’ve always felt that it doesn’t matter whether you’re from a small school or a big school, it should never be a limiting factor,” he said. “Just because you’re from a small school doesn’t mean you can’t do great things.”

Cari also made a contribution during her years at Central Elementary School, starting the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site and a butterfly garden at the school in an effort to “bring hands-on science to students.”

“Kids love to observe and notice how things grow,” she said of her work with the OWLS project. “I know people like to say that reading is the most important thing, but you can’t do anything without science, either. It really is the basis for everything.”

For more on this and other stories, log in to your holtonrecorder.net account and select the Nov. 24, 2021 edition under “E-Editions.”

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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