Heritage High School teacher Gabe Fain was named the Tom Norris Texas Academic Decathlon Coach of the Year for medium-sized schools at the Texas Academic Decathlon State Meet in El Paso in February.
Fain teaches GT Humanities and coaches Academic Decathlon (Ac Dec) at Heritage High School. He joined the campus in 2009 when it opened.
Fain was selected by coaches from across the state after a nomination process. He was awarded a trophy and $1,000 prize at the meet.
“Each year as the Ac Dec Head Coach, he has the responsibility to recruit, inspire and prepare his students for success,” Heritage Principal Mark Mimms wrote in support of Fain’s nomination. “His goal is to always instill in them a belief that they are capable of accomplishing goals beyond which they think they are capable. He does this through a love and devotion to his students and this creates in them a belief that regardless of the circumstances, they will succeed.”
Academic Decathlon teams spend hours working with their coaches. The coaches become mentors to their students.
Mimms observed, “Mr. Fain not only displays excellence, but strength of character as well. He has a quiet confidence about him, and never neglects the details, nor fails to give the extra effort. He is sensitive to the needs of others, often doing something quietly for a student or staff member while always giving those additional few minutes of his time.”
Each year, Ac Dec teams have a different theme to study for the competition. Fain says his favorite theme so far has been “Age of Empire” which was 2011-12’s focus. He enjoys the challenge of preparing students for the rigorous competition.
“I always tell people that students who are in Academic Decathlon are taking about seven extra classes – but they are all compressed into 90 minutes every other day,” he said.