you were to ask educators why they picked teaching for their lifetime contribution
to the world, you would primarily get one of two answers.
When they were
growing up, they had a teacher who told them that the reason that the student
was not doing well was because he or she was incapable of learning the subject.
Usually those were opines offered without substantive evidence. Interestingly
those students vowed to show them otherwise, and almost always did.
iconic math teacher, Dan Reeves, became a math professor because a high school
teacher had bluntly told him that he was too dumb to learn algebra.
was going to prove her wrong, and I did,” he told me when I interviewed him in
1999. “She was the one with the problem….she couldn’t teach.”
later, not only had Reeves successfully taught high school and college mathematics
to thousands, but when he retired, Sam Houston State University named its mathematics
center after him.
Fortunately there are many more that bonded with a favorite
teacher, and then went into that profession to emulating them.
is a story dedicated especially to the Ball High School teaching successes
of George L. Morton, Frank J. Vollert, Cpt. Charles Welch, and M. Sgt.
In the mid and late 1950s, Morton was principal,
Vollert was vice principal, Welch was the ROTC PMS&T and Prentice was the other
Todd, Trish, Mark, Scott Dierlam|
courtesy of Mark Dierlam, III.
Mark John Dierlam, III graduated from Ball High in 1956, he had earned
the rank of captain in the ROTC, and that foundation convinced him to make the
military his career. |
His father had been an ensign on a World
War I battleship, then a merchant captain until World
War II broke out.
“Victory ships were (being) produced at a rapid
rate, and the Navy needed experienced captains to certify them as sea worthy,
and then to take them out for shakedown cruises, so that was what he did until
the end of the war,” Mark Dierlam told me.
Dierlam went to A&M University,
got his degree in electrical engineering, then joined the Air Force and became
a pilot. He moved through the ranks and retired as Col. Mark J. Dierlam, III.
his higher education and his career, he had built on the specific mentoring he
had gotten from his father and from Morton, Vollert, Welch and Prentice, while
he was at Ball High School.
When he became a father himself, he passed
what he had learned from his mentors to his three children, Todd, Trish and Scott.
of them now holds the same rank as their dad in the Air Force. All three are
And all three of them attended and graduated from the Air Force
Academy in Colorado Springs.
Todd will soon be moving to Patrick Air Force
Base in Florida, Trish is stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas,
and Scott is at the Air Force Academy office in Washington D.C.
other Ball High students, Col. Mark Dierlam was mentored and taught by Reeves,
Welch and Prentice, as proud administrators Morton and Vollert made certain that
a fine high school education was possible for all Ball High students who wanted
And that military mentoring foundation multiplied as Col. Mark Dierlam
drew on it to help his children, Todd, Trish and Scott, to achieve their remarkable
academic and military successes.
Of course congratulations are due to
the extraordinary accomplishments of the Dierlam family.
are also due to Morton, Vollert, Welch and Prentice who laid the foundation that
continues to reap benefits nearly 60 years later, and will ultimately be passed
on to Mark and Kay Dierlam's grandchildren.
Both are stories that grab
Copyright William S. Cherry. All rights reserved
Cherry's Galveston Memories
Related Topics: Texas
Schoolhouses/Education | People
a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime columnist for "The Galveston
County Daily News." His book, Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold
thousands, and is still available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other
Cherry's Galveston Memories|