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The Pow Wow

The School News Site of Bonner Springs High School

The Pow Wow

The School News Site of Bonner Springs High School

The Pow Wow

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Mr. Mellick – Craftsman On and Off Campus


Mr. Mellick has been a teacher here at BSHS for almost ten years now, having started in the 2014-2015 school year, and has been very dedicated to his craft and his students.

At Bonner, Mr. Mellick teaches Construction and Woods, but he’s taught a wide variety of subjects at previous schools. In the Shawnee Mission district, he taught a class on automotives. At a school in Columbia, MO, where he worked for six years, he taught many classes: Architecture, Woods, Construction, Space and Aeronautics, Theater Tech, and Automotive.

Woodworking has been a passion of Mr. Mellick’s since he was young. Around the age of ten, he recalls, his parents were building the house they lived in, which sparked an interest. He started out by making little toys for himself, and it’s progressed from there.

Mr. Mellick loves the transformation that happens when creating a woodworking project. “For me, it is neat to be able to take something that is flat…just a straight board, and turn it into something three-dimensional or have a tangible object from nothing,” he says.

As well as being a teacher, Mr. Mellick makes cabinetry and other woodworking projects on the side. Every summer, he does one kitchen job. During the school year, he picks up smaller jobs, such as small pieces of furniture. He builds everything in the shop he has at his house, and usually brings those completed projects in to show his students.

Each project he takes on is unique, but there have been a few particularly memorable ones. For a young family member of Officer Cullum, BSHS’s old school resource officer, he built a Cabbage Patch doll changing table. Another time, a teacher from his old school wanted a saddle stand for a horse saddle.

“Probably the one that I like doing the most…the most fun, I call it a ‘grow with me stick’,” Mr. Mellick shares, “It is how, as you grow older, your parents usually [mark] your height on the doorframe or something. Well, this is a seven-foot-long board that looks like a giant ruler. So then if you move, you don’t have to rip the door out, you just take the board with you.”

Just like outside the classroom, Mr. Mellick is very hands-on in school, too. As you may know, the BSHS woodshop class makes either a tiny house or a playhouse every year. This 6+ year old tradition was started by Mr. Mellick himself, so that students get real-world experience.

“It’s hard for me to teach kids how to mud and tape a drywall and then take all that material when you’re done and [say] ‘well, that was fun’ and throw it away,” he says.

The tiny houses are contracted and, when they’re finished, they are rented out as Airbnbs, all over the country. The first one went to Colorado, the one from last year is in Florida, and another is down in Tennessee.

BSHS isn’t the only school that builds tiny houses, Mr. Mellick says. There are five or six other schools that also do it. Each tiny house has the same basic skeleton and floor plan, but they all vary in style. “The first one we did was very rustic looking with all live edge,” says Mr. Mellick, “This last one, it was very much like a 1930s library…even though it’s the same floor plan or same skeleton, they’re all different.”

This year, the woodshop class made a playhouse. Those end up on display at the Parade of Playhouses, put on by the Home Builders Association in Kansas City. The houses on display at this event are auctioned off and the money is given to charity.

The playhouse before it was finished. Credit: Ryan Mellick
Students and Mr. Mellick posing with the finished playhouse. Credit: Rose Lietzen

Mr. Mellick feels that working with students each year to create an entire structure has its challenges, but the end result is worth it. “[the process is] stressful, hectic,” he says, “I’m playing general contractor, I’m also playing ordering agent, I’m playing teacher, but in the end it’s rewarding…It’s rewarding for me to sit on the barstool and watch the kids’ faces when they realize wow, this came in as a stack of lumber and we actually have something that’s really neat.”

His dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed. Mr. Mellick has been named the Secondary Teacher of the Year for the USD204 district. He is honored, but also has a very humble response about it. As of writing, he has moved on and become a Region 3 finalist for the Kansas Teacher of the Year 2025.

Part of this title requires giving a speech, so Mr. Mellick decided to have fun with it. Instead of writing his notes on paper notecards, he engraved his on 3×5-in pieces of wood.

“It’s all about having fun,” he says, “If you’re not having fun, then you’re not in the right field. And that’s something I’ve always told my students. Take a job that you enjoy doing, [you’ll] never work a day in your life.”

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About the Contributor
Lyra Thompson
Lyra Thompson, Writer
Lyra Thompson is 17 years old and a senior at Bonner Springs High School. She's had a passion for writing from a very young age and wants to be a fiction author and journalist in the future. In school, Lyra is involved in Scholar's Bowl, National Honors Society, FCA, and Academic Decathlon. Outside of school, she works at Cookie Co. in Lenexa. In her free time, Lyra loves to read, sing, play video games and board games, and watch TV.

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