Alumna Has Sewn More than 5,000 Masks During the Pandemic
Since graduating from TCU, Kat Deichler Schwaberow has made a positive impact around the world, first as a teacher and now sewing more than 5,000 masks to donate to frontline workers and vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schwaberow completed the College of Education’s Accelerated Master’s program, earning her bachelor of science in early childhood-6th grade education in 2010 and her master’s degree in special education in 2011. Inspired by her experience teaching in The Netherlands her senior year, she moved to Qatar following graduation and worked at the first special education school in the Middle East for two years. She also taught in Peru and Mexico before returning to the United States and settling in north Texas with her family.
She is now a special education inclusion teacher in the Carrollton Farmer’s Branch school district and said her global and local connections are what prompted requests for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as the donations and materials needed to fulfill those requests. With the help of family, friends, her Facebook group and donations, she has sent PPE to hospitals, Native American reservations, schools, businesses, organizations and individuals in 27 states and five countries.
“My husband is a high school principal; we are all about education and we wanted our girls to know that we can do this together and take care of people,” she said.
Schwaberow said she is a multi-tasker and made time before, during and after remote teaching to make masks and scrub caps. At the height of the pandemic, she sewed for 10 to 12 hours per day, first inspired by friends in China and then by her neighbor, a hospice nurse, for American nurses and doctors working in the COVID-19 frontlines.
She makes many of her masks with brightly patterned fabric and donated rolls of HEPA filters. She is now focusing on making clear mouth masks for deaf educators and for schools so children can better understand their teachers. Her district started the school year with remote learning and transitioned to in-person classes for many students in September. She said the public mindset about teachers has shifted throughout the pandemic, from high praise to high expectations, but she said her students are always her priority.
“As a teacher, you weigh the risks between getting the virus and having the kids fall way behind. There’s no substitute for in-person learning for many students,” she said. “I’m so hopeful that we are doing everything we can to help these kids, spending all summer preparing and taking supplies to their homes.”