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Teacher helps apply lessons
SHS's McCombs happy to assist in competitions
W Richard McCombs
Statesboro High student Supriya Immaneni and science teacher Richard McCombs discuss her research. - photo by Special

If there were game stats for academics, Statesboro High School science teacher Richard McCombs would be one of science’s most winning coaches. 
His success is an ability to help students apply science to reality, and their projects are earning numerous state and national awards.
“I never question whether his students are learning,” said Marty Waters, Statesboro High principal. “I provide the resources he needs and get out of the way.”
Outside the classroom, McCombs coaches and travels with six different extra-curricular clubs and activities including Chess Club, Science, Quiz Bowl, Science Fair, Science Olympiad and Odyssey of the Mind. 
“My weekends are full, but the kids want to compete, and I enjoy watching them succeed,” he said.
In the recent Science, Engineering, Communications, Mathematics Enhancement Program national competition, his students swept the first place spots in all four high school divisions at both the regional and state levels, as they did the previous two years. In June the team will travel to the national SECME event at the University of Alabama. to compete in engineering design, essay and water rocket design. Last year’s water rocket team won the national championship title.
“The students’ ability to do mass flow calculations amazes me,” McCombs said. 
The Science Quiz Bowl, Science Olympiad, and Odyssey of the Mind Teams all advanced to state-level competitions after taking top spots at regionals. At the recent Regional Science Fair, three of his students won nine awards. Seven were won by Supriya Immaneni for her tick DNA extraction and Q fever detection project.
“For my research, he arranged times for me to attend Dr. Quentin Fang’s biology classes at Georgia Southern University,” Immaneni said.
McCombs partners with SHS’s Career Technical and Agriculture Education faculty to help his students research projects that are applicable across many fields of study.
“I tell my students to develop one great thing; do it well, and it leads to other things in life,” he said.
They now produce projects that are allowing them to crossover from science competitions to CTAE and FFA events as well. He helps students see science in agricultural, culinary arts and other industries, so they begin to see possible careers.
“He’s a knowledgeable teacher, and his students are truly fortunate,” said SHS agriscience/FFA teacher Allen Waters.
For McCombs science and education are a family affair. His wife Kathy is a special education teacher at Portal Middle/High School, and his son Ricky actively competes in science events with his dad and plans to pursue mechanical engineering. His son Jordan, an eighth grader at William James Middle School, competes with the SHS Science Olympiad team.
McCombs is a three-time teacher of the year receiving the coveted accolade at all three schools he’s served: Pahokee Middle Senior and Lake Worth High Schools in Florida and SHS. He was also a top-three finalist for the SECME National Teacher of the Year.
As a family man, teacher, Boy Scout Troop Master and National Guard veteran, life is busy but exciting.
“He’s the only person I know who can get more than 24 hours out of a day,” Waters said.

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