Leadership in public education, at least at Blaine High School, looks a whole lot like Ross Eichele.
By day he’s a renowned English teacher, doing such a good job that last year he was a finalist for Education Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year award. But by night and weekends, Eichele is an award winning speech and debate coach.
Though, he isn’t just helping students – he’s also helping and teaching his fellow coaches. It’s for that work that on Dec. 12, it was announced Eichele had received the “Distinguished Service Key” from the National Forensic League, a speech and debate honor society. Only 340 people have been given the honor since 1925, according to National Forensic League Executive Director J. Scott Wunn.
“It is nice to be recognized and honored for the help I’ve given to other coaches so students can compete in speech and debate,” Eichele said. “Helping others creates opportunities for all students, which is important to me.”
Wunn said the service award is given to coaches who devote themselves to others, demonstrating the spirit of the National Forensic League. Last year, Blaine High School and Eichele’s team hosted the state speech tournament, which will be returning to the school again in 2014.
Eichele said he works hard to help other schools and coaches when they host speech and debate tournaments, and offers advice and personal time to help whenever he can.
“Everyone I know cares about their students and wants them to do well. I’m the same in this respect,” Eichele said. “I want to see everyone do well because the world is a better place when everyone is doing well. Because of that I’m always willing to help.”
And while he loves coaching, the skills he’s learned leading the school’s speech and debate teams, Eichele said, loops right back to his English classroom.
“Thinking about what each student needs to improve their speaking, listening, and writing skills and differentiating instruction to help students improve creates success for everyone,” he said. “I know I’m a better teacher because of coaching.”