Coleridge grad makes memories on trip to China

COLERIDGE — A competition in China earned a former Coleridge High School graduate and the students he now teaches, international honors.
Ryan Troxel, a 1989 Coleridge graduate, and his family moved from Charlston, South Carolina, into Coleridge the summer before he entered his senior year in high school.
Ryan’s mom, Edith Gleason Troxel, had grown up in Coleridge. His grandmother, Pat Gleason, had been the Coleridge Village Clerk for 17 years and had also been a Chaplin at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, S.D. for 15 years.
After his high school graduation, Troxel earned his teaching degree at the U.N.L., and is now the Shop instructor at Benson High School, which is part of the Omaha School System.
As part of his Shop classes, Troxel teaches construction, welding and robotics.
Robotics involves the conception, design, manufacture and operation of robots, which is done by the students along with the help from their teacher. The students build the robot, create the software and then program the robot for competitions. These students are learning lifelong skills that include teamwork, leadership and communications.
Troxel has been working with VEX Robotics, which is a two-on-two competition.
Robotics had started out as part of the after-school program at the Benson School.
“I saw how hooked the kids were on it and everything just took off,” Troxel said. “It is like an erector set that is on steroids.”
The students are given the parts to build a robot.
“It appeals to kids who like to work with their hands. Some kids really excel with this,” he said.
Out of the four years Troxel and the students at Benson have taken part in the Iowa/Nebraska Region Competition they were State runner-up for two years. Last year they won the Regions by beating all the teams from across Nebraska and Iowa.
As a Regional Division winner, Troxel and three students, who were juniors, were able to travel to China and take part in the international competition.
“It was a neat experience,” Troxel said.
Troxel and the Benson students competed against 46 other schools from around the world while in China.
Troxel and his students placed fourth at Robotcom Tournament.
They also won the “Excellence Award”.
“We had the best robot in the competition. All of the judges voted – they all voted for us,” Troxel said. “It was very intense competition.”
Competing and winning in a world competition was great but that isn’t the most important part of Troxel’s teaching career.
“I have had a lot of satisfaction working with these kids. You get to see how they learn and you are able to watch them progress,” he said. “These kids are like my sons.”
One of Troxel’s students is now attending Wayne State College and has plans to be a Shop teacher.
“Seeing this student doing this – to want to do what I am doing – is one of my highest honors,” he said.
Troxel is now married and has three daughters. His family lives in Benson.
Troxel only attended school in Coleridge for one year but he has some good memories of his time in Coleridge.
During his senior year he competed in pole-vaulting at the Nebraska State Track Meet.
“It was my first time to go to State. It was great,” he said.