Students studying history at Ball High School will now be studying Ball High School in history, among other things. It’s all part of a new course created and taught by William Schuster. The History of Galveston is now an official course selection that will spend an entire semester focusing on the island and its amazing past.
“There is a section in our U.S. history book that mentions Galveston during the progressive era,” Schuster points out. “It talks about how, right after the 1900 storm, Galveston adopted the commission management form of government that was then adopted by more than 500 U.S. cities at the time. Galveston has so much impactful history like this that I just thought, why not have the course.”
This will be Schuster’s ninth year teaching at his alma mater after teaching for three years in Houston. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas State. In addition to his U.S. History and History of Galveston courses, he coaches baseball and volleyball. In his “spare” time he sits on the city council for the City of Galveston, which he feels will be beneficial to his students who take his course.
“It fits into our economic development and comprehensive plan with the city. Workforce training can help students if they work jobs in any tourism or hospitality roles where it could really be an asset to be knowledgeable about our history,” explains Schuster.
About 100 students have signed up for the class so far. And it’s not only popular with kids...adults in the community are clamoring to somehow be a part of Schuster’s innovative brainchild.
“This is the first time in my teaching career that it feels a little overwhelming because there is so much community outreach and interest about this course,” admits Schuster. “I never had anyone approach me about coming to give a presentation in my U.S. history class and now all of a sudden I have dozens of people who want to come speak and have ideas, and really that just shows you that what we do on the island really does change the universe.”
He may have been slightly joking with the “universe” comment, but Galveston does have a history of being a trendsetter for the nation. In May, the city council voted to declare Juneteenth an official holiday for city employees, an initiative that Schuster put in motion. Juneteenth is a holiday that began in Texas and commemorates General Order No. 3, the official announcement, made in Galveston, that all slaves are free.
“If you Google Juneteenth, there is a push to make it a federal holiday, so why is it that the city where General Order No. 3 was read is not honoring the date? So I talked to the mayor and put it on the agenda.”
Not only is Schuster one of the youngest Galveston councilmen at age 33, he’s teaching a never-before-taught high school course that he invented, and he’s playing a key role in making sure Galveston continues to make its mark in the history books.
“One thing that Galveston has is a lot of people with passion and pride for the community,” boasts Schuster. “This is a city grown out of our history of developing a culture of resiliency, a hard work ethic, and our blue collar community, which has definitely molded into what you see today.”
Schuster’s passion for his hometown and his love for education and coaching has been perfectly woven into this moment where he is truly making history...while teaching it.
“Sometimes it can seem like each school year feels like the last one but this is different, something new, something exciting. I feel like I’m carrying a lot of weight on my shoulders with this new course, but it’s going to be so fun and I’m looking forward to it.”