“He helped me through so many things from second to sixth grade, and I don’t think I’ve ever properly thanked him for that. Thank you, Mr. Gudgel!”
— Zoe Hamilton, Class of 2023
Year after year, the Yellow Springs News prints a booklet featuring members of the Yellow Springs High School graduating class. In it, students are encouraged to write essays talking about their experiences throughout their career at the school, the people who impacted them, and the memories they will carry as they enter adulthood. Each year students talk about a teacher, administrator, or coach who inspired or influenced them, and each year John Gudgel’s name is mentioned.
A stalwart face in the Yellow Springs district, Gudgel has served as a teacher, coach, principal and guidance counselor in his nearly 40-year career with the district beginning in 1979. Gudgel said he always knew he wanted to pursue a degree in education, but he initially decided to go into business education after taking a typing class at Yellow Springs High School.
“I could type faster than anybody else,” Gudgel said. “But I also had this love of history.”
So, “as many students do,” Gudgel said he switched his major from business to history, deciding that it would provide long-term stability and an opportunity to approach learning and teaching in a different manner.
“Becoming a social studies teacher provided me an opportunity in terms of social awareness, social conscience — all those things that sometimes we forget about as human beings,” Gudgel said. “[Social studies teaches] the importance of getting along with others, living in a world where we have to learn how to understand and work with people from different backgrounds and cultures.”
Gudgel said he particularly liked finding ways to teach about those differences through subjects like geography.