Challenging

Greg Marquardt, standing, the KISD Secondary Teacher of the Year, guides students in one of his six German classes through a vocabulary exercise.

Greg Marquardt says he started at Tivy High School, 26 years ago, teaching history and two levels of German, but his German program has expanded to where he teaches six sections of German. He says a lot of his students take German because of the challenge.

“I get kids who just want to choose a different path from most, and who want to challenge themselves. That’s also the reason native Spanish speakers take German; they already know Spanish and don’t want to take the easy way out. I also find there’s a lot of German heritage in Kerrville. Some of the founding families had names like Oehler and Uecker, and their children want to learn about and honor that heritage.”

Marquardt says he was born in Webster, S.D. His father, Lewis Marquardt, was a South Dakota State Representative for a term, but later moved to Phoenix, where he earned a Ph.D. He taught at Arizona State University and Texas State University in San Marcos.

Marquardt’s mother, Judith Marquardt, completed her training to become a teacher, but the day before she was to start she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “Mom never got to teach,” Marquardt says. “But even though they had removed the tumor with part of her brain, she went on to earn her masters degree. There was nothing more important in my family than educating yourself. She died when I was 14.”

He says his father was never offered tenure, so he took up a new career selling furniture in Denver, then in Buda, where Marquardt graduated from Hays High School in 1986. When Marquardt was 15 his father married Donna Reeves, who was a professor of German at Texas State.

“I started college at Texas State,” Marquardt says. “I was a history major, with a minor in German. My step-mom set up an exchange program with Leibniz University Hannover, in Hanover, Germany. I went for a month in the summer for the first three years of the program. That’s where I really learned to love Germany, and German.”

But he says he didn’t go the fourth year, 1991. “I didn’t have a job because no one wanted to hire someone with a bachelors in history and German, so I started working on my masters. When the German students on the other end of the exchange program came to Texas State, I was one of those who volunteered to drive them around. We styled ourselves as ‘chauffeurs.’ One weekend I offered to take any of the exchange students who were interested up to Canyon Lake, where we could eat and watch the sunset. I told them I had room for five in my car, but the only one who showed up was Stefanie Holloch, so that turned into our first date. We got married in 1992.”

Marquardt says they have three daughters. In December, Anna Judith will receive her master’s degree in music from Angelo State University. Paula Lucille is a senior at Texas A&M Kingsville, studying teaching. Sofie Elie is a junior at Tivy. And yes, all three took German.

Marquardt says his road to becoming Teacher of the Year began when his fellow Tivy teachers nominated him from among Tivy teachers with at least five years of experience, as one of three candidates for Tivy Teacher of the Year. He filled out a resume, then had an interview with a committee of the principal, Shelby Balser, and former Teachers of the Year. They questioned him on his philosophy of teaching, and how he became a teacher.

He says, “My motto is, ‘Everyone can learn.’ Students need to be challenged, and teachers have to find the balance to meet each one at their level.”

Then he says as Tivy Teacher of the Year he competed with teachers from Peterson Middle School and BT Wilson Sixth Grade. He was videoed teaching, and interviewed by a committee from the Kerrville Public Schools Foundation, who sponsors the award.

Marquardt says, “The award was announced at the Zoom convocation that this year took the place of the usual end of year KISD meeting. Principal Balser knew I was to be Teacher of the Year, and they told my wife, Stefanie, to make sure I would attend. But it was hard. The day of the meeting was the day my father died. I still managed to give my virtual speech, and I dedicated it to him. Lewis Maquardt was a professor of humanities, and a true renaissance man. He taught me about life, and about what it means to be a teacher.”

Marquardt says his main hobby is fly fishing, and he ties his own flies. But a lot of his time has been spent researching and writing his book, “Wingtip to Wingtip,” which will be published in March of 2021.

He says, “Two of my uncles on my step-mother’s side, Junior Batty and Jack Batty, trained together as fighter pilots near the end of World War II. They flew together over Korea between WWII and the Korean Conflict. Junior was called back into service for the Korean war, and is still missing in action. We attend all the MIA events. Junior’s empty grave is in the “Memorial” section of Arlington National Cemetery, and Jack is buried right across the path from him, so they’re still wingtip to wingtip.”

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