SKCTC a family tradition for professor

Published 9:45 am Saturday, October 20, 2018

Southeast Professor Rhonda Creech values family and tradition. In fact, years before she joined the faculty at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, she was a student on the Cumberland campus.

“My mother had gone to Southeast in 1964,” says Creech. “She loved Southeast and wanted me to have the same positive experience.” From fall 1983-spring 1985, Creech pursued her associate in science degree from the college with assistance from a Rotary Club scholarship.

Upon graduation, she received a full transfer scholarship to the University of Kentucky and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in education. Later, while teaching at Cumberland High School, she earned a master of arts in education from Morehead State University.

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“These were the days before online classes,” Creech says. “I drove to Prestonsburg and took night classes after work.”

As it turns out, Creech had a specific goal in mind. She kept in touch with Southeast Professor Dr. Odell Wilson, and with his encouragement, kept taking graduate level math courses. She eventually earned the credentials needed to apply for a position at the college. Says Creech, “Southeast faculty and staff were already like family to me. I knew that teaching at Southeast was what I was destined to do in life.”

Looking back, Creech says that Southeast fully prepared her academically for her transfer to UK. She is so confident in the college’s academic and social preparation, that she enrolled both of her children. Her son Paul David graduated from Southeast with an associate in arts and associate in science, received a full scholarship to the University of Kentucky, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering, and now works as a mining engineer. Her daughter Anna Jo completed dual associate degrees from Southeast, received a full scholarship to UK, and has earned her BA and MA in education. She currently teaches English at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester.

Creech feels that Southeast not only prepared her academically, but she gained several lifelong role models along the way. Dr. Odell Wilson “made mathematics meaningful.” She credits Faye Simpson, who taught her education courses, for showing her how to be a good teacher. “I especially liked her immediate feedback and positive reinforcement,” she says. Dr. Vivian Blevins, president of what was then Southeast Community College, impressed her as a successful woman in a male-dominant career: “She used her discretionary funds to sponsor three other young women and me at a women’s leadership conference in Washington, D.C.”

Creech also learned the importance of spending quality time with her students outside of the classroom. English Professor Bruce Ayers and Student Activities Director Red Sellars would “hang out” in the grill and play ping pong with the students. (Dr. Ayers would eventually become Southeast’s eighth president (1987-2013) and Red Sellars, vice president of student affairs.) She became so accomplished, in fact, that when she transferred to UK, she was asked to play for the UK ping pong team. She declined, however, because of her busy schedule.

Creech has now entered her 21st year teaching math for Southeast. She lives in Blair, Kentucky with David, her husband of 32 years. They have 12 goats, several chickens and four dogs, including a border collie named Lucy who is “more intelligent than many people I know.”

Of her years at the college, Professor Creech says, “I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend and work for SKCTC. I have learned so much here as a student and an employee. I could never repay the college for the lessons I have learned or the lasting friendships I have made with the students, faculty and staff. Southeast is my second home and where a big part of my heart lives.”