Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dobie Yearbook Round Up #7: Mr. Richard Golenko

Full disclosure: I love Mr. G. 

Between the nearly 4000 photos I've culled from the online yearbooks this month, there will be many, many entries, but none will make me smile like watching the years go by of Mr. Golenko, always there. This will likely be the entry that departs from the yearbook photos a bit, just because it needs to. 

Did you know there is only one Richard Golenko? That's not just sentiment. I can't find another person on the internet that shares his name. As it should be.

Mr. G arrived at Dobie in the fall of 1972, teaching Latin as well as world geography, American history, and Sociology of all things, without a strand of  the amazing silver hair to show:

He wasn't working Prep Bowl that first year, and there would be no Academic Decathlon for a good while, but here was his very first Latin Club group photo and yes, I almost mistook him for a student there in the back row:

By 1973, Mr. G and Mrs. Haney were Prep Bowl sponsors for the first time.


This would be the first year of the annual Valentines Carnation Sale.
(another Round Up in the series will feature every year of the Latin club including the crazy idea that it was at Dobie prior to Mr. G.)



And now for something completely different . . .
This is a photo in the yearbook of Mr. G as sponsor of the golf team. Who knew?!?

1977 was a particularly good year . . .




(at the Latin club's toga party that year)


Mr. G's competitive streak is legendary. 
I can only imagine the fits over the continued second place finishes to Baytown Lee during these years.

And then . . .
The Start of the Dynasty




His tenth Latin club group, and my how it's grown.



1985 and the first appearance of an Academic Decathlon Team

1986 at the Latin roast

with the Academic Decathlon team

with the ever growing Latin club


one of many photos of Mr. Golenko at the Prep Bowl wiping the floor (usually) with the the student team.


with the '88 AcDec Team

and a few that didn't make the yearbook (but should've)

thanks to Geoffrey Maduzia for this one!

1989, with I, Claudius, no doubt
Look away from the orgy children!

and yes, I'm breaking the rules and pulling photos from well past our blog's era here...

The 1992 National Academic Decathlon team at the White House

And in 1993, having guided the AcDec team to the White House? He couldn't even get a raise. 
I found this among the stacks from the South Belt Ellington Leader in 1993:

But he came back. 



1996 with the second National champ Academic Decathlon team 

1997 (& bathroom passes)







2004 (last book available)

Mr. Golenko's departure from Dobie's Academic Decathlon program in 2004 left such a hole that the school, while earning a spot at the state championships every single year for decades (since 1987 by my calculations) under his leadership, did not even field a team for several years, until one of his '95 AcDec students joined the faculty and fielded a team again in 2006. There's actually a wiki on this, although it only goes back to 1990.

He retired from teaching in May 2006.

You must read the Pasadena Citizen's coverage of Mr. Golenko's Sondheim award in 2012.
There are only ten national winners of the annual prestigious Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award presented by the Kennedy Center in Washington.

screenshot from the Kennedy Center

by the way, here's Darlene back in 1973, bottom right:

Read her full nomination letter here.

And in 2013, at the inaugural Dobie Wall of Honor, Mr. Golenko was inducted with the following biography:

The guiding force behind Dobie's two national championships in Academic Decathlon, Golenko retired in 2007 after a 35-year career as a high school teacher, all of it at Dobie. He arrived at the school in 1972, just four years after it opened, and taught Latin, sociology, world geography and various American history courses. His Latin teams piled up 18 state championships over the years. His coaching efforts in Academic Decathlon struck gold in 1992 and again in 1996 when his teams won national titles. Four times his teams won state championships. He was named Dobie's teacher of the year twice and in 2006 was honored as the Pasadena ISD teacher of the year. Even in retirement, Golenko reeled in a prestigious national honor. Last year he was named recipient of the Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher of the Year Award by the Kennedy Center in Washington. 

What it failed to include, however, and what any attempt ultimately fails to do, is to adequately capture the depth and width and breadth of the lives Mr. Golenko has touched. Get any group of Dobie alumni together and talk about teachers that inspired and influenced their lives in profound ways, and this man's name is at the top of the list. 

I love you, Mr. G. And I am not alone.

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