When students don’t put in the work to live up to their potential, teachers have two options, Hillsboro High School technology teacher Creigh Bell said recently. They can push their students to persevere and achieve what they’re capable of, or they can accept “good enough.”
“If we say it’s good enough and they walk out these doors and the world knocks them down, it’s our fault,” Bell said.
In an effort to prepare students for the world beyond high school, he tries to relate what he teaches to the workplace. If a student puts a decimal point in the wrong spot, it is easy to dismiss, but if an accountant makes the same mistake, it could cost thousands of dollars. If an engineer makes that mistake, people could die.
Student Aaron Slater appreciates Bell’s high expectations.
“It helps you, not relying on teachers giving you freebies,” Slater said.
Attention to detail and safety are two parts of a larger lesson Bell works to impart to his students.
“I think the most important thing to teach is you get out what you put in,” he said.
Teaching industrial arts helps that lesson get through to students, because they can see the tangible results of their work. Seeing those results can be an excellent motivator, he said.
Bell didn’t always know he wanted to teach. He worked in automotive repair after high school, but decided he didn’t want to make a career of it. He knew he wanted to do something with technology and industrial arts, so he asked his high school industrial arts teacher for advice.
After weighing his options, Bell enrolled at Fort Hays State University, eventually earning a bachelor of science degree in technology studies.
HHS has been his only teaching job, and it was the first school that interviewed him. He has taught at the school since 1997.
Bell and his wife, Keri, have two daughters, 8-year-old Surinda and 4-year-old Sonareigh.