Mary Castle Elementary School 4th grader Jake Keefer may just call them Mom and Dad, but to many in our community, this couple would be worthy of crowning Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Township. Jack and Jan Keefer are passionate about Lawrence Township schools, personally and professionally.
Jan Keefer’s day job is as an accomplished attorney for Bingham McHale law firm. She concentrates her practice in the area of complex family law matters, including dissolution of marriage, adoption, child custody, child support, prenuptial agreements and guardianship matters. Professionally, Jan also has significant experience in business and civil litigation and continues to devote a part of her practice to these matters. Aside from being a well respected attorney, Jan is a “ super volunteer,” having given generously of her time and talents to many groups from the Junior League, the Kappa Alpha Theta fraternity alumni, Indianapolis 500 Festival and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Board, just to name a few.
Jan is known for her “can do” attitude and leadership in her various volunteer capacities. Currently, these talents are being showcased as the President of the Lawrence Township School Foundation Board of Directors (did I mention she is also co-chairing the annual LTSF Gala at the same time!).
Husband Jack is a teacher and head coach of the Lawrence North Wildcats Varsity Basketball team. Jack is a local celebrity, having been called the “Dean” of Marion County coaches, and is in his 32nd season coaching the Wildcats (as the only varsity basketball coach in Lawrence North’s history). There is not any current Indiana high school basketball coach with that length of tenure at the same school.
In March of 2007, Coach Keefer received the ultimate honor for anyone associated with basketball in the Hoosier state. He was inducted as a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2006, Coach Keefer also achieved a coaching honor that has never been bestowed upon an Indiana high school coach — even with the great tradition of basketball in our state and its storied history. USA Today, Sports Illustrated and the National High School Coach’s Association recognized Coach Keefer as the National High School Coach of the Year! Coach Keefer’s winning record places him among an elite group of Indiana coaches.
Several of Coach Keefer’s players have also played professional basketball. Currently, Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. play in the NBA, and Chris Hill plays professionally in a European league. Lawrence North is also proud that Oden was selected as the No. 1 draft pick in the 2007 draft, and Conley was No. 4. No high school teammates have ever been selected together that high in the NBA draft in the same year. In addition to winning State Championships, the Lawrence North basketball team as a whole has maintained at least a B+ average over the last few years.
Jan Keefer was modest when asked to talk about her contributions but said of her husband: “I have great admiration for Jack’s daily efforts to mentor the students he coaches, making a difference in their lives by providing the tools and life lessons for success.”
These lessons go beyond books and basketball. The Keefers consider the players extended family, and Jan has spent time tutoring several players over the years. Her own community commitment is put into action with the Lawrence Township School Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organization where Jan feels she can utilize her particular talents in event planning and fundraising. Her leadership, along with the Foundation staff, board and supporters, is used to support all Lawrence students by raising funds to build confidence, expand opportunities and raise achievement levels for every student, in every school, every day.
“We can all make a difference, even if an individual can’t be a tutor or volunteer their time,” Jan said.
LTSF provides numerous programs which need funding, including Creative Class Grants which offer teachers financial support to reach students with innovative programs; funds for AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) and MAC (My Achievement Centers, tutoring centers in both high schools); the new My Community Gets Healthy student fitness program; as well as character building programs in all township schools. (For more information and to support Lawrence Township School Foundation programs, visit www.msdltf.org or call 423-8300).
“Our goal is to impact the mental, physical and moral well-being of all children,” Jan explains. She closed our conversation with her and Jack’s favorite quote by Marian Wright Edelman: “Children must have at least one person who believes in them. It could be a counselor, a teacher, a preacher, a friend. It could be you. You never know when a little love, a little support, will plant a small seed of hope.”
Kudos to Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Township!