Editor’s note: Former Brownwood resident Dr. Juan Andrade Jr., president of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, wrote this tribute in honor of teachrs including Chock Wetzel, who died in 2010.
It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. Anyone who has ever gone to school can remember teachers for something they may have said or done, who knew their subject impressively well, or did not, or maybe took time to care for their students. We all had teachers that we remember for one reason or another.
I remember one who said in 1959 “If you needed a doctor you wouldn’t want one who cheated his way through medical school; so don’t cheat. Do your own work.” I had a civics teacher in 1964 who made politics and public policy very interesting. I have made it my life’s work for 56 years.
I had a teacher who said I would never amount to anything and I became the only student from that high school and my college to receive a medal from a President of the United States “for the performance of exemplary deeds of service for the nation.”
I had a teacher who was a much better basketball coach than a history teacher. I learned nothing from him, but in college I majored in history and politics.
Mr. “Choc” Wetzel was my elementary school teacher and coach. A role model who really cared for his students. He taught us what we needed to learn academically, but also made good adults out of his kids. In him we saw strong values, honesty, and good character. We learned to play sports and to be good sports. I have always appreciated him.
His students from the 1950's later played professional football and baseball. Four Mexican-Americans earned doctoral degrees. Others became lawyers, administrators, teachers and social workers. He loved to ride his horse in parades and would always call us by our last name when we waved at him as he passed by.
Fifty years after my last class with him, he came to see me at a college recruitment fair my organization was hosting at Coggin Avenue Baptist. He said, “Read about you in the newspaper and just wanted to stop by and tell you that I’m very proud of you.” He was a teacher who cared for us, taught us to care for others, and never forgot his kids.