William Hetrick

Retired, McAllen ISD
Edmund J Farrell Lifetime Service Award

In 1969, the Beatles recorded Abbey Road, Golda Meier became prime minister of Israel, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was established, and Mr. William Hetrick began his teaching career. Arguably, the most significant of these events is the genesis of a career teacher whose work has affected the lives of decades of students. 

His curriculum vita is impressive, as he has supervised student teachers, chaired committees, spoken at conferences, served in leadership roles in professional organizations, and received awards and accolades. He has been an active member of TCTELA and NCTE since 1974. He believes, however, that his true success lies in the connections he has made with individual students over the past half century. In his own eloquent words: 

Every morning, I enjoy going to school, absolutely certain that I will enjoy the day. Blessed with a keen sense of humor, a positive attitude, and a level of maturity that promises an interesting, successful day, each of my students is a miracle. I am determined to prepare him or her for the future. While it is true that content is important, I feel that I must respect each student as a person. 

Mr. Hetrick credits, by name, his own teachers for his remarkable career: Annie Laurie Wolfrum, Marie Lydia Rodriquez, and Robert Fulton—all former teachers in Mission, Texas. They helped shape his views toward the importance of student talk in the classroom and the damaging nature of formulaic writing. Just as their names are etched on his heart and mind, his own name is etched into the hearts and minds of incalculable numbers of students. He exemplifies the legacy that is teaching. Of his own career, he says this: 

I will not apologize. I am in the classroom to stay. I refuse to bow to unfavorable press. I refuse to be degraded by anyone not in—or even in—a position to know my professionalism. I refuse to betray students by leaving the profession. In recognition of new attitudes toward them, true educators—including me—will accept today’s challenges, as well as tomorrow’s, by staying true to our most prized possessions, our students. 

Because this award in its very name honors a lifetime of service and of learning, TCTELA proudly awards the 2016 Ed Farrell Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. William Hetrick.