Teaching Giants Espinoza, Gullick Selected for SHHS Hall of Honor

Teaching Giants Espinoza, Gullick Selected for SHHS Hall of Honor
Posted on 07/10/2017
This is the image for the news article titled Teaching Giants Espinoza, Gullick Selected for SHHS Hall of Honorgerardo espinoza and jerry gullick
Gerardo Espinoza (left) as a South Houston assistant football coach; Jerry Gullick (right) in his classroom.

Approaching his mid-50s – and distancing himself from a career that had included a stint with the CIA and forays into the highest ranks of industrial management -- Jerry Gullick thought he was finally settling into retirement. Then one day his stepdaughter came home with a problem.

The problem became Gullick’s opportunity for another re-invention of himself.

Stepdaughter Stephanie explained that she was having trouble in her high school calculus class.

Gullick decided to tutor her – and, with his help, her grade went from a “D” to an “A.” As for Gullick, he decided he wasn’t a spent bullet after all. He went to work on his teaching credentials and launched a new career as a math instructor at South Houston High School.

This fall Gullick, who died five years ago while still on the South Houston faculty, will be inducted into the school’s Teacher and Staff Hall of Honor.

Gullick’s selection was announced Monday, along with that of the late Gerardo Espinoza, a track and cross country coach at South Houston for 25 years who earned community-wide acclaim for his four decades as director of the City of Pasadena’s summer youth track program. Espinoza, who also coached 10 years at Sam Rayburn High, died in March of last year.

A campus reception honoring the two – as well as three Alumni Hall of Honor inductees to be named in August -- will be held during a campus open house at South Houston’s homecoming on Oct. 6. All five inductees will also be honored before the kickoff of South Houston’s homecoming football game the following day.

This year’s South Houston homecoming celebration will be held in conjunction with the school’s 60th anniversary observance.

For more than four decades Espinoza was the face of youth track competition in Pasadena. He arrived at South Houston in 1978 as an assistant football coach, track coach and Spanish teacher. He assumed the reins of the Trojans’ girls cross country and track teams, serving in those roles until 2002, when he moved to Sam Rayburn High for the opportunity to coach his son during his senior year.

But Espinoza’s legacy was formed on track ovals all across Pasadena. For more than 40 years, he directed the city’s summer track program, a launching point for more than 1,000 youngsters with hopes of high school careers in track and other sports. Dozens of his young athletes advanced to state and national competition through the Hershey Games and Texas Amateur Athletic Federation program.

To many Pasadena kids, he was a true father figure -- and in his later years, a true grandfather figure.

Espinoza was the consummate volunteer and facilitator. He could be found on steamy summer mornings setting up course cones in area parks. Nearly every summer track participant to receive a track ribbon during Coach Espinoza’s time as director received it directly from him. He volunteered at a local special needs center and resurfaced, following his retirement in 2012, as track coach at First Baptist Academy in Pasadena.

Students in his Spanish and biology classes considered him one of the most skilled and personable teachers on campus. In his decade of coaching at Rayburn, his boys cross country team won five straight district titles.

Following his death in March of 2016, the city named a track meet in his honor.

Gullick possessed perhaps the most unique background of any teacher to serve on the South Houston faculty. Prior to his career as an educator, he served in the Coast Guard and with the CIA. He later studied electrical engineering and held a variety of positions in the public sector, including oil-rig engineer and plant manager.

He joined the Trojan faculty in 2003 and immediately established himself as one of the jewels of the math department, a self-taught master teacher who successfully guided scores of students through the rigors of Advanced Placement Calculus and other courses.

Gullick succumbed to cancer in early 2012 while still on the South Houston faculty. His death loss deeply impacted his students, his former students and fellow educators.

A Galena Park High graduate, Gullick joined the Coast Guard in 1996 and was recruited into the CIA four years later. He was stationed along the Russia-Iran border, where he monitored Russian missile launches. He left the CIA and returned to Texas, where he attended San Jacinto College on the GI Bill and earned an electrical engineering degree from Texas A&M in 1977.

Gullick applied his talents as an engineer and manager to positions with Schlumberger, U.S. Gypsum and Tenneco, and at one point ran his own consulting company.

A voracious learner, Mr. Gullick developed an ability to convey that knowledge to others -- and, in doing to, proved to be a source of encouragement and inspiration to those who entered his classroom.