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Markham's teaching roots help tap potential

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- An instructor's legacy of caring has earned him applause from a civic group.

Houston Markham, instructional systems specialist in curriculum development for the Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development, received the Young Professional of the Year Award from Emerge Montgomery Feb. 6.

He credits his strong support system of family and co-workers who encouraged him since he was an intern at Maxwell in 1995.

"This award is not all about me. It's about them," he said.

His empathy for those new to the base helps him as an instructor and course director for Civilian Acculturation Leadership Training, or CALT. "I see myself in a lot of those young people," he said.

The two-week course is designed for civilians with two to five years of experience and no prior military background - "OTS for civilians, for lack of a better term," said Markham. The civilians are housed on the Officer Training School campus, immersed in Air Force culture and develop leadership skills.

He also teaches and evaluates as part of the academic instructor course for newly hired instructors at OTS as well as courses for Air Force Junior Reserve Office Training Corps and AFROTC instructors, impacting more than 2,500 instructors, according to the information submitted for the award nomination.

Markam was a major player in the Holm Center's curriculum branch receiving an "Outstanding" from the Air Education and Training Command Inspector General in 2011.

He reviews content, quality and method of academic programs, researches and adapts new educational programs and evaluation procedures within the Holm Center.

Through his work as an instructor and curriculum designer, he also impacted an assortment of people in the community, including Alabama Department of Transportation employees, Montgomery Public School administrators and instructors, and youth at Frazier Memorial United Methodist Church and Alabama State University.

For example, he provided more than 250 hours of curriculum design instruction to more than 500 Montgomery Public School administrators and instructors.

Novadean Watson-Stone, chief of instructor education and evaluation, lauded Markam's ability to assess the strengths and needs of those he teaches and pull "from his pool of knowledge to help that person," she said. "He's able to walk into a classroom and walk out having made a difference."

Watson-Stone said she's not the only one impressed by his abilities. She pointed out that students regularly praise Markam in after-class assessments.

"He definitely has a strong passion for academic excellence," she said.

Markham has worked at Air University Headquarters and Air War College, but found his niche as an instructor.

Markham works in Building 803, which is now known as the Air University Academic Facility. However, it used to be the Academic Instructor School, and it is here he cut his teeth as an instructor after "leaders and bosses determined my skills would be useful at the Academic Instructor School," he said.

Though he was a bit awed by the responsibility - "I was frightened to death," he admitted - he drew upon the encouragement of others to help him realize his potential. Both his parents are educators, his mother an English teacher, his father a football coach at Alabama State University. Markam said the greatest reward he has experienced is the feedback from students he was able to help.

"It's great to hear that you made a difference in their growth and their lives," he said. "That's what I cherish about this profession. ... This award is about giving of self. If more people were willing to give, the world would be a better place."

In addition to helping others learn, Markam is continuing his education, pursuing a doctorate in adult education with a tentative completion date of December 2013.