Built by Biles


Photo provided by Martha Greco

Andrew Biles uses the 3D printer in his classroom.

Martha Greco, News Editor

When thinking of RJ Reynolds High School’s Neo-Classical Revival style campus, many quickly recall the landing at the school’s entrance or the stunning Auditorium that houses the performing arts. However, many first don’t think of Room 018. Secluded in the back of the history building through Room 017, this hidden gem is home to Career and Technical Education teacher Andrew Biles and his drafting class. After completing 30 years of teaching at Reynolds in January, Biles’ journey amid the pines is ending as he enters retirement. 

Finding his love for building after taking a woodworking class in high school, Biles won awards and then pursued a degree in industrial arts. 

“Taking those woodworking classes and having a good teacher in high school, I decided that that was something I wanted to pursue,” Biles said. “We went to state competitions, and I got second place in the state my senior year in high school for a slant-top desk I made.”

Once he decided he wanted to become an educator, Biles received his teaching degree and joined the demon staff as a student teacher. From there, he set up shop on the first floor of the history building and has since become one of RJR’s longest-serving teachers, even being awarded the academic honor of Teacher of the Year throughout his career. 

“I did my student teaching at Reynolds, and I was hired by Stan Elrod,” Biles said. “I have either been in 017 or 018 for 29 years.”

Drafting is a CTE class incorporating architecture, manufacturing, engineering, science, and mathematics skills. The course allows students to choose their own projects and physically create them. 

“My favorite project was designing and building a house out of balsa wood,” junior Peter Brown said. 

Not only does Biles create structures in Room 018, but he also creates a healthy classroom environment. 

“I try to give everybody an equal opportunity in my classroom,” Biles said. 

By creating an equal chance at success, Biles teaches and mentors student progress throughout their projects. 

“Mr. Biles is a teacher who knows what he is talking about and is always willing to help but also gives you the freedom to choose how you want to go about completing a project,” Brown said. 

As Biles’ teaching chapter is writing its final page, Biles will miss his students and classroom the most following his departure. Although still hidden in the history building, Biles has built a drafting legacy that will continue to live on even after his retirement.