Economic Crash Brings Job Success
by Kaden Starkey, staff writer
MAY 2021 – Ms. Rachel Hughes is in her 11th year of teaching and her first year at Bio-Med. She teaches two engineering courses: engineering logic to freshmen and engineering logic to seniors.
Originally, Hughes went to school to become an engineer, receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Youngstown State University and a master’s in engineering management at Kettering University. Once she graduated with her bachelor’s degree, she took a job involving a lot of programming, leading her to obtaining a master’s in information technology with a focus on cybersecurity.
Hughes worked as a wireless communication engineer before transitioning into teaching. She would train the manufacturing team how to program and prep units for shipment. The adults she worked with were afraid of the new technology, but being able to see them “go from being afraid, to not even touching the unit, [and] to being able to do it independently” was satisfying career-wise for Hughes.
When 2009 hit and the economy crashed, her company “downsized and did away with the wireless production line” resulting in her being laid off from the job.
“I had friends who were in education and they said that I should get my math certification, go be a teacher,” Hughes says.
She went on pursuing a career in teaching and later on accepting a long-term substitute position at Trumbull County Tech Center teaching engineering. Hughes says that “when I was able to teach what I love to do, it was just kind of like a new moment for me, like a new opportunity.”
Hughes says that she came to Bio-Med because “I was just kind of intrigued with how they did stuff at Bio-Med. It was really what I envisioned education to be.”
Also, with the mastery grading scale that Bio-Med uses, “you could actually go back and correct your mistakes, learn from your mistakes,” she says, reflecting on how other schools grading systems use letter grades.
Hughes also talked about how she likes the community that is encompassed in Bio-Med.
“What they teach you students outside of the content area, how to be good humans and contribute to society. I think that that’s a huge component that is needed,” she said.
Teaching during a pandemic, especially in a new school, trying to teach the curriculum to her students was a bit challenging. She hadn’t previously taught an engineering logic class before, but she knew the material, so it was hard to pace herself in a way that was good for her students. Ultimately, she said that “I kind of had to learn to give myself some grace in the process. That it’s okay that we didn’t get through every single part with the year that we had and what I did teach them. I know that it’s impacted them and that they got something out of it.”
Outside of school, Hughes loves to travel, “I would rather have experiences traveling than like materialistic things.” One of her biggest interests is learning about different cultures and people. She also loves learning new things. If she doesn’t know how to do something, no matter the situation, she will figure out how to do it. Hughes also enjoys reading. She has a dog and two cats.
Hughes has one son, “He is 17 and he goes to Mahoning County Tech Center and he’s going for aviation. So he’ll be an airline mechanic when he graduates,” she says. He also races four-wheelers and she says that she is “tied up with his races, usually most weekends.”
Hughes hopes that her students learn perseverance from her class, “that they’re able to continue on even when things don’t go well. They don’t just give up on it,” she says. In her last words, Hughes says that, “I just think that the staff and the administration and the students here are great. It’s a great place to work.”