Robert Laches was born in Elgin, North Dakota in 1953. He attended school in Mott, North Dakota and graduated from Mott Lincoln High School in 1971. After high school, Bob attended the North Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota. Graduating in 1973 with a diploma in Electronic Communications Systems, he began working in the television industry until 1977, at which time Bob was hired as an Electronics Instructor with Bismarck Public Schools, where he has been for 28 years.
As an instructor with the Bismarck Public Schools, he took an active part in SkillsUSA/VICA, becoming an advisor for the organization. Bob promoted the importance of both the leadership and technical skills students could learn. He saw the importance of allowing students to fine-tune their skills. Bob implemented a 3-hour lab every Tuesday evening for electronic students to come and practice their skills. He encouraged all students wishing to expand their knowledge through hands-on experience to take advantage of this opportunity. This selfless desire to promote knowledge among his students is one area that separates Bob from the average instructor. This type of commitment has led to Bob’s students having continual success at both state and national competitions. His students have brought home 11 national medallions and two awards in World Competitions. This commitment has also aided the Electronics program in moving from a two-year to a three-year program.
In the classroom, Bob has the reputation of being the instructor that kids respect because he respects each of them and their unique learning styles. Students know Bob is always accessible, even at home, to answer questions and provide help. Each student is given a business card at the beginning of the year with his work number as well as his home number and are encouraged to call if they have any questions. This respect is reflected by the fact that year after year, students request letters of recommendation from Bob. Students continually contact Bob with input on how the courses offered have helped in their careers. These students know that any suggestions or comments they have will be listened to and, where possible, will be implemented into the curriculum.
During his tenure as an instructor, Bob has received a variety of awards and special recognition which include being chosen as the North Dakota Curriculum consultant for MAVCC in 1980 while developing a national curriculum; chosen for Who’s Who Among American Teachers seven times; a Citation for Meritorious Achievement International Biographical Center, Cambridge England; North Dakota VICA Advisor of the year; and included in Who’s Who in the Midwest. Bob was selected as the 2002 Crystal Apple Award/Teach of the Year.
Bob’s dedication and commitment have given him many rewards during his time as an advisor. These accomplishments span almost 30 years of dedication, during which many of the National SkillsUSA/VICA conferences Bob attended with his students were paid for with personal funds.
Outstanding SkillsUSA Contributions and Achievements
Robert Laches has been active in SkillsUSA/VICA, a student organization, as the Electronics Advisor. He has also successfully implemented a 3-hour Tuesday evening open lab for the electronics students. This lab allows students the extra time and assistance to those needing special assistance or to those wishing to expand their knowledge of electronics through hands-on repair of personal electronics items. Bob is proud to say that he has successfully promoted the growth of the electronics program to three years, including an operating electronics/internetworking (Application Based) program for the advanced students, to better prepare and expand student knowledge in this career area.
Bob has served as a curriculum consultant in the development of a national curriculum in electronics, which is currently the foundation of the Bismarck Electronics Technology Program. He has been successful in promoting and implementing the first Chapter in the state of North Dakota of NTHS (National Technical Honor Society) to honor outstanding achievement of students at the Bismarck Technical Center in their technical areas at the completion of their programs. Bob has served as a test writing consultant to NOCTI (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute) in the development of National Certification tests in electronics. He has served on a number of committees including: Math Standing Committee, Technology Task Force, Vocational Standing Committee, Engineering Cluster ND Tech Prep.
Bob has used innovative methods that he has implemented for all of his students. Students of all learning styles are treated as individuals. They are given as much special and individual attention as is possible. The UNIQUE thing that is done with all students is their ability to call Bob at home at any time for assistance as needed.
At the beginning of the school year, Bob’s students are issued his business card with his home and work phone on it, and they are encouraged to call if they have difficulties with their homework. Students are also encouraged to participate in the weekly Tuesday evening open lab, to enhance their learning experience in electronics technology.
Students view Bob as a caring instructor, interested in seeing each student succeed to their highest potential; a teacher with a realistic work place approach to education and a genuine interest in the students and to the field of electronics technology.
Bob has constant contact from former students. The students honor him by asking for recommendations, and provide input to him as to the ways the program has helped them in their careers and lives as well as providing valuable feedback to him on what areas can be improved in the program to keep it up-to-date.
Bob is viewed as an outspoken instructor, yet willing to go out on a limb to maintain and improve the electronics program and Career and Technical Education in general, in the best interest of the students. Bob is constantly selected to assist on interview teams when new faculty is hired. Bob was nominated by his students and peers for the Bismarck Chamber Crystal Apple Award.
Significant Positions held: (in education or SkillsUSA)
- 1980 North Dakota Curriculum consultant in the writing of the national curriculum in electronics for MAVCC
- 1988-2005 National Technical Honor Society Chapter Advisor for Bismarck Technical Center
- 1994-2004 Society for Excellence in Business and Industry
- 1995 North Dakota VICA Advisor of the year
- 2005 North Dakota SkillsUSA Advisor of the Year
- Standing Committee for Bismarck Public Schools Vocational Technical Center
- SkillsUSA/Advisor (25 years)
Being the VICA Advisor for students that have reached their potential in the SkillsUSA-VICA Program; which includes 11 National Winners; 4 First-Place Gold Medallions, 6 Second-Place Silver Medallions, and 1 Bronze Medallion. Two International (Team USA) Competitions in Taiwan, that brought back to the United States a 2nd Place and a 4th place in World Competition in Electronics Technology and Electronics Product Servicing respectively
Honors and/or Recognitions:
- The honor of being chosen for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers
- 1990, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005
- 1994 Citation for Meritorious Achievement International Biographical Center, Cambridge England
- 1994-1995 The honor of being included in Who’s Who in the Midwest
- 2000-2001 Strathmore’s Who’s Who
- 2002 Bismarck Chamber Crystal Apple Award/Teacher of the Year
- Professional Memberships:
- 1988-2004 North Dakota Association of Career and Technical Education
- 1988-2004 National Association of Career and Technical Education
- 1988-2004 Trade, Industry, Technical and Health Association
- 1995-2004 Block captain in the neighborhood Crime Watch program in Mandan
- 1994 Citizen Police Academy
Constructed a promotional float to promote Career & Technical Education in the Folkfest parade
Other specialized SkillsUSA activities, such as community service, safety projects, or any other activity above and beyond the call of duty.
For several legislative sessions, Bob and his students have set up a promotional display at the Capitol to promote Career & Technical Education
Bob and his students have constructed a float for the Fantasy of Lights Christmas parade put on by the Downtowner’s Business Association
Bob and his students have assisted in the “Open Your Heart” campaign, by helping fill Christmas baskets for the needy
Bob has successfully implemented a 3-hour Tuesday evening open lab for the electronics students. This lab allows students the extra time and assistance to those needing special assistance or to those wishing to expand their knowledge of electronics through hands-on repair of personal electronics items.
For several summers, Bob donated his time and financial resources to accompany students to the National SkillsUSA Competition in Kansas City