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HAMMOCK: Golf, grandkids and more up next for Karen Francoeur

It takes practice to keep up with the golfing Francoeurs.

Jeff, the current Kansas City Royals outfielder, is an avid player, as is older brother D.J. Their father, Dave, was on the golf team at Vanderbilt.

Karen Francoeur, Jeff and D.J.'s mother and Dave's wife, never had that kind of time for golf. She was busy with her children's lives and a longterm dedication to teaching.

But she was a pretty good golfer herself growing up in tiny Brillion, Wisc., where she played for her high school team. While she doesn't expect to regain her teenage golfing form, working on her game is now on her to-do list after her retirement this month. She spent 26 years teaching, the last 20 in the Gwinnett County Public Schools system.

"I used to play golf before the kids, but golf is a time-consuming sport," said Karen Francoeur, a longtime math teacher who finishes up her duties next week at Camp Creek Elementary. "When D.J. played golf at Parkview, I walked all the tournaments. I love golf. It's definitely my goal, and David's goal, to play more golf. I want to get back to playing golf."

It's hardly her only plans, though.

Francoeur's major focus will be on her four grandchildren --daughter Heather has two girls and D.J. has a boy and a girl --who are all younger than 5. Jeff doesn't have any children yet, but his parents transport his three dogs multiple times a year back and forth from Kansas City. So she has grand-dog duty, too.

Francoeur and her husband, who retired from the education field in 2006, also hope to do more traveling. Many of those trips will be to see Royals' games.

"(Retirement) will give her an opportunity to see me play, which I'm happy about," Jeff said of his mother. "And she'll get to spend more time with Heather and D.J.'s kids. She's done so much (in the schools) for so long, this is a chance for her to rest and relax a little bit. I'm happy for her that she'll get some time to herself and some more time with my dad."

While she officially retired from teaching, Francoeur is quick to tell you it isn't a full retirement. She hopes to continue teaching math somewhere, either on a part-time basis or as a private tutor, a job she held for 12 years when her children were young (which puts her at 38 years in the education field counting her 26 in school systems).

She spent time at both Camp Creek and at Trickum Middle School over the past 20 years.

"I still want to teach somewhere part-time," Francoeur said. "I'm not ready to give it up completely. I love it too much. It's still in my blood. I'm not ready to go cold turkey. ... I'll miss seeing the kids day to day and all the contact with the students. What's so cool to me, even after this many years of teaching, is there's always something new.

"The kids come up with these sayings that are new. Just listening to students and watching them develop is great. And I love math. I want kids to love it, too."

People may not realize it, but she loves golf, too.

Hopefully she'll have time to work on her game in the near future, and make up for lost time. Maybe she'll even close the distance between her scores and those of Dave, D.J. and Jeff.

"She won't be up there with us, but she's good," Jeff laughed. "She's good. She used to play all the time in college and right after. She loves playing."

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.