Civil War buff given classroom command
Now he has the opportunity to teach an entire class on the subject as part of Lone Star College’s retrospective on the 150th anniversary of the conflict.
Derks, who worked for many years in the business world before receiving his master’s degree in military history from Sam Houston State University, has served as an adjunct professor at the Kingwood and Woodlands campuses of Lone Star College, and this will be his first opportunity to teach a class that is specifically about his favorite historical topic.
“(The Civil War) is what first got me interested in history,” Derks said. “I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t interested in it.”
Derks credits two life experiences from his youth for sparking his interest in the war. The first was a direct family connection to war.
“I have a brother who’s much older than I am, and he was serving in Vietnam,” Derks said. “There was that military aspect of things that I as a young child was trying to understand.”
The second experience came from a much lighter source, though one should never underestimate the influence of entertainment media on a developing mind.
“There was a really not-so-good movie called ‘Shenandoah’ with James Stewart,” Derks said. “There was a younger character in the story, and I identified with that. Not that it’s historically correct or anything, but that’s how that got started.”
Many years later, Derks is spreading this love of history to younger generations. He credits faculty member Craig Livingston with doing most of the legwork, but when Livingston offered him the opportunity to present a lecture to the community, he happily accepted. The two also collaborated on a re-enactment of the march to Gettysburg.
“I had three classes at the school, and I was very proud of the fact that I had all three classes participate in large numbers,” Derks said.
This semester, Derks and Livingston will be collaborating on a class that focuses on the military and political history of the war. Although the idea sprang from the war’s 150th anniversary, Derks hopes it can become a recurring course at the school.
“It probably wouldn’t be something that we could do every semester, but maybe once a year, it might be something we tackle if the interest is there,” Derks said.
About Tracy Derks
Occupation: Adjunct professor at Lone Star College
Community Connection: Lives in Kingwood
Fast Fact: Also works as full-time instructor for an online university
Chris Marshall is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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