East West

“He organizes things, keeps us on track, and actually cares what happens to us. He is here for us all the way, through rain or shine,” Serafino Bland, team member.

Mr. Frank Dressel is the fuel that drives the engine of Team 931. As Head Coach, Mr. Dressel leads, inspires, and empowers us to do our best. He is an effective communicator; he listens and is very resourceful. Because of how he listens to us and his ability to solve problems, Mr. Dressel encourages each of us to maximize our potential.

As students, we often meet teachers who only want to talk; however, Mr. Dressel gives us the chance to speak first. He makes it so that we’re the ones who lead discussions. This year he split us into three groups – Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. After Kick-off, each group developed a game strategy, designed a robot and began building prototypes. This got more students involved in the design process than ever before. Each group presented its plan and the entire team discussed its pros and cons. With this sort of openness to student ideas, Mr. Dressel creates an environment where every member can contribute.

Team member Samuel Harrington describes a personal experience with Mr. Dressel. “He taught me how to cut metal. I was really intimidated by the machinery and the noise, but then Mr. Dressel started to break down the procedure. The first time I began cutting I was really nervous and was going way too slow. He just smiled and encouraged me to go faster. That was the first time that I felt like I learned something useful, it was the first time that I felt like a teacher really cared about my learning.”

Mr. Dressel is also incredibly resourceful. He isn’t afraid to make personal sacrifices and the answers he finds to our problems always move the team forward. When we earned the opportunity to attend Championship last year our budget was running low. With the registration deadline approaching and our sponsors lagging behind, Mr. Dressel charged $5,000 to his personal credit card. However, his investments extend beyond his willingness to open his wallet. For the second consecutive year, we hosted the St. Louis Regional Fall Training Camp, the brainchild of Mr. Dressel. Our camp helped bring teams together from across the region. Although we intended this camp to help struggling teams, our team benefited just as much from the exchange of ideas and the relationships that were formed.

The greatest asset that Mr. Dressel has is his ability to get students involved. This strength manifests in two ways – with students on our team and those of other teams. Because of the approachable way that he teaches, our team is able to express ideas, experiment, and learn. He encourages us to never give up and learn from our mistakes, even if it’s frustrating. This attitude ripples out to other teams. Mr. Dressel has helped to generate seventeen local teams that represent over twenty-four high schools. Additionally he has started three FVC Teams and supported numerous FLL Teams. His gift to enthuse and motivate is helping to change the way students see learning about science and technology.

One of our team members Kirsten Jones said it best, “He’s the man who brings us together. Start to finish Mr. Dressel exemplifies the work ethic, dedication, and spirit that makes Team 931 successful.” 2005 St. Louis Regional judges were in agreement. They named Mr. Dressel “Volunteer of the Year,” saying that “because of his leadership and mentoring Team 931 has become the master teacher for our regional teams.”