Two outstanding Dickinson High School graduates designated College of the Mainland professors Dr. Bernie Smiley and Dr. Tracy Orr as “Seed Sower” teachers, educators who had made the greatest impact on their lives. At the Dickinson ISD Foundation Gala, the top 20 graduates of Dickinson ISD each recognized a significant teacher. Top 20 graduate Christian Carlin named Smiley, an English professor, and top 20 graduate Joann Chacko recognized Orr, a professor of anatomy and physiology.

As Collegiate High School students at COM, Carlin and Chacko were also full-time college students. This spring, in addition to graduating from Dickinson High School, both graduated with an Associate of Science from COM.
Both students excelled at COM. “Chris is a very smart and has a sense of humor,” said Smiley, who taught Carlin in English for two semesters. “He would stop by my office and show me things he discovered and tell me a joke.”
Joann Chacko was in the COM Sigma Delta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national two-year college honor society, and also involved in the Biology Club, of which Orr was a sponsor. After completing her associate degree, Chacko was accepted to the clinical laboratory sciences program at University of Texas-Medical Branch. “She’s an excellent student,” said Orr. “She’ll make an excellent medical professional.”

Chacko remembers her time at COM as pivotal experience. “Taking part in this program was the best decision I've ever made,” said Chacko. “I finished two years of college and met some amazing people, including Dr. Orr. He has been by my side for the past year, although I only took his summer classes. He is dedicated to push his students to achieve greater [things]. Because of his class, I was able to affirm that I wanted to pursue my career in the medical field.”