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Teeing off for teaching: Golf tournament unites educators to raise funds for schools

A trio of Banfield Elementary teachers use the game of golf to stay in touch over the summer, but they got together to golf for a different reason at Austin Country Club on Monday.

Banfield’s Jamie Braaten, Jared Finer and Tammy Wiste teamed up with Eric Kossoris, a teacher at Neveln Elementary, along with 64 other golfers who were competing in the 22nd annual Packer Classic, which is hosted by the Austin Public Education Foundation.

The tournament included golfers from across the community and it raised funds that benefit K-12 students through APE grants.

Jared Finer, a teacher at Banfield, putts at Austin Country Club as fellow Banfield teachers Jamie Braaten and Tammy Wiste look on in Austin Country Club Monday. The three teachers golf once a month during the summer to stay in touch. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Braaten has played in the tournament for 15 years, but this year he was playing on a team that was sponsored by Austin Education Association. It is the first year that AEA has had a team in the tournament.

“It’s just a nice chance for us to give back to our community and have a little fun at the same time,” Braaten said. “It’s not a bad perk (for teachers) to play a little golf. It’s a very social sport. You’re playing a game, but really you’re visiting the whole time and staying in touch with each other’s lives.”

Finer, Braaten and Wiste all played high school sports and they love to get out and compete against each other in the summer. Their matchups on the greens can sometimes get a little intense, but Monday’s sessions was much more laid back.

“It’s cool to come and check out a new course. It’s a great fundraiser for the schools and I get to see a lot of coworkers,” Finer said. “(Braaten, Wiste and I) are very involved in sports so we have a common bond in golf. We banter back and forth throughout the year and then we get a chance to hang out during the summer on the golf course. It’s a good way for us to get together.”

Wiste said it’s nice to be part of a golf event event that gives back to schools.

“It helps fill our classrooms with supplies and a lot of donations have been made for listening centers and those types of things,” she said.

Kossoris said the entire event is productive for teacher bonds and classrooms in general.

“It’s wonderful and it’s vital for the success of our schools,” he said. “It’s fun to get the teachers out here and play some golf. Any chance you can get teachers together, I think it strengthens the unity.”

Jamie Braaten, a teacher at Banfield Elementary, tees off on hole No. 4 at Austin Country Club Monday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com