By John McGreevy, TJJD Communications
When a valued part of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department community heads off into retirement, it’s always a bittersweet experience. We’re sad to see them go, but grateful for their time and dedication to helping the youths in our care. In this case, we wish a very happy and fulfilling retirement to Marie Welsch, who served at the TJJD since before it was even known as TJJD. Her good work for us goes back to 2003, when TJJD was known as the Texas Youth Commission.
“I’ve worked with juvenile justice alternative education programs (JJAEP) for the last ten years,” said Welsch, who was an education specialist in the Probation, Reentry and Community Services Department, “and I’m really going to miss these people who care so much about the kids they work with."
"People are not always very positive about working with these kids, but the people on the staff that we have are wonderful. They work so hard to help these kids get back on the right track and it’s been an honor to be with all of them. I’ve had lots of jobs with TYC and TJJD and this has been my favorite.”
The feeling was certainly mutual. Welsch leaves behind a score of admirers among her former coworkers.
“Marie brought great passion about the education of youth in our system to her daily work,” said colleague Amy Miller, director of Probation in the Probation and Community Services Dept.. “She was always determined to do her part when she worked in TJJD facilities and with Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs to make sure justice-involved youth weren’t left behind academically, and she excelled in that endeavor. As a co-worker, she was supportive and a great asset to every team or project.”
Reflecting on her 22 years of TJJD service, Welsch said if there was one thing she wishes the public knew more about it would be “how hard the probation departments are working to help get these kids back on the right path. They’re supportive of getting the kids what they need and that they go beyond focusing only on the offense. They go in and find out about the youths’ families and find out what help they need, they try to find the best placement for these kids. The probation departments are out there every day in the communities, doing what they can to keep the community safer and to help the kids that come through their doors.”
Marie's advice: Share the knowledge
Her advice for her peers and people starting careers with TJJD is straightforward. “Get to know the staff at the various programs,” she said. “See all the positive things they do, and share that technical assistance with everybody, because they all have such good ideas that are really good for supporting each other.”
She’s looking forward to the next chapter of her life, which is to devote more of her time to creative efforts. “I’ve been building my infrastructure for retirement for a long time,” she said. “I sew and paint and play with glass fusing and I plan to enter shows, participate with my art in the community, and more actively rejoin my sewing groups. I want to share my work and have a good time. I’ve been doing this since the 90s and it’s all been part-time. Now I get to spend more time doing all of that.”
"She was always open and willing to share her knowledge, and eager to learn new things, Miller said. “I know I speak for the entire probation services team and many others in TJJD offices and probation programs across the state when I say it has been an honor to work with her.”
Summing it up, Welsch said she’s grateful for the time she’s had to work with the people of TJJD and help the youth in care.
“I’ll miss the people the most. Being involved with them, letting them know that I’m here if there’s any way I can advocate for them.”
“It’s time for me to retire, but I have loved this job.”