Don Hendricks. Or, is his last name spelled H-e-n-d-r-i-c-h-s?

Hmmm, funny how your memory fades a little after 50 years. (Well, maybe it isn't funny.)

While over the years I may have forgotten how to spell my first basketball coach's last name correctly, I will not forget him. He had the patience of a saint.

Same applies with Mrs. Wuest. (Or, is it Weist?) Anyway, I shall never forget my seventh-grade teacher who took an interest in each of her students. She had some great ways to remember the spelling of some words. (For instance, want to know the difference between "dessert" and "desert"? She explained that dessert is when you had too much, which is why there are two s's instead of one. Meanwhile, she said it is very hot in the desert, so that's why there is only one "s.")

Some things you just do not forget. Teachers have that power. They can have a tremendous influence on your life.

Bill Ward is another instructor that comes to mind. My initial journalism teacher, who also happened to be the head of the Journalism Department, was not an easy guy to please. He scrutinized everything you did and questioned each word you might have used in an assignment.

He demanded your interest and your hard work. Nothing else would do. He made sure that you did your best. He knew when you slacked off. He'd tell you point blank. You could not deny it. He made you feel like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

Now, I know there were some students who did not like Bill Ward's teaching style or approach. Looking back, I think those were the students who were struggling and just could not take the instructor's relentless pursuit of perfection. In my book, Bill Ward was a class guy who helped me move forward in my career path.

Nominations Being Accepted

Certainly each one of you had an instructor who helped you tremendously in your HVACR career path. This teacher possibly took you aside and helped you with all of your problems.

She - or, he - was the one who cared enough to meet you after class to answer all of your questions. He - or, she - could have demanded so much from you that it ticked you off, but in the end you did exactly as requested because it was the right thing to do.

I know each one of you has at least one story to tell about your favorite HVACR teacher. But, that's not what I'm here for. Rather, I'm here to inform you that you can thank this instructor by submitting his or her name into our annual "HVACR Instructor Of The Year" contest.

It's the least you can do for the person who took the time to have an interest in you, for the person who pushed you to become the successful contractor, technician, or installer that you are today.

To give you the fine print up front, nominees should be from a vocational school, community college, apprenticeship, or adult education program. The list excludes manufacturer-distributor trainers and seminar speakers.

If you have not entered an instructor during the previous five years of our contest, please do so this year. The News and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), co-sponsors of the contest, have been honoring the industry's best instructors since 1998, as we believe they deserve a firm pat on the back for a job well done.

To participate, please fill out the nomination form on page 34 in this issue. You can fax the completed form (248-244-2905) or mail it (Mark Skaer, Instructor Contest, The News, 24 Orchard View Court, Belleville, IL 62221).

You can also submit a nomination electronically, as there is an entry form on our Web site, The deadline for entries is June 17.

There are no excuses for not entering. Take the time. Chances are your instructor took time for you. It's the least you can do for him (or her).

And, if you are not sure of the exact spelling of your instructor's last name, do your best.

Mark Skaer is senior editor. He can be reached at 618-239-0288 or

Publication date: 03/28/2005