When Ryan Childress became involved in the speech and debate program at Neosho High School, he could never have imagined that he would, in a few short years, become a policy maker in the world of high school speech and debate programs.


When Ryan Childress became involved in the speech and debate program at Neosho High School, he could never have imagined that he would, in a few short years, become a policy maker in the world of high school speech and debate programs.

But now, this young man from a small town has a name in national speech and debate policy.

A very active high school student, Ryan was on the tennis team, in the National Honor Society and served as president of Key Club and his senior class. He also qualified for national competition in debate.

After graduation in 2005, Ryan took advantage of a generous scholarship and moved on to Southwest Missouri State. Now, he will graduate in May with a bachelor of science in public relations, with minors in public law and technical writing. Just as it was in high school, his college experience has been varied and interesting.

“College life has been a blast. I have been heavily involved in student government,” Ryan said. “I currently serve as the student representative on the Board of Governors. It has been an amazing experience. I get to interact with university administrators on a daily basis and really represent students on a system-wide level. I sincerely enjoy it.”

And come fall, when regular college classes began anew, Ryan will draw on a $60,000 scholarship to attend law school at the University of Tulsa.

But back to his interest in speech and debate.

For the past three years, Ryan has been an assistant speech and debate coach at Parkview High
School. He is also vice-president for research and product development with a company which sells “evidence” to high school debate teams.

However, a recent development in his life is one of his greatest achievements.

In his English 321 writing class, “Beginning Technical Writing,” Ryan was required to write a 20-page paper, but instead he wrote a 62-page paper titled “The Super-Novice File: A Guide to Entry-Level Policy Debate.”

This paper has now found its way to the National Forensics League (NFL), the nation’s oldest and largest debate and speech honor society. The NFL was so impressed with Ryan’s work that his paper has been copyrighted by the NFL and will now be the national NFL policy for the Super-Novice speech and debate program in American high schools.

According to Ryan, “There are three kinds of debate: Lincoln Douglas, policy and public forum. At the national level, there is currently not a resource for policy debate for either beginning coaches or debates. The manual is a beginner’s guide for both coaches and debaters to the basics of policy debate.”

Having a college paper turned into a national policy manual was totally unexpected.

“I honestly never thought the manual would make it past my English course. I donated it to some coaches and they were very kind in their remarks. From there, my English teacher, Mrs. Tracy Dalton, encouraged me to take it further, so I did.”

And take it further he did.

“I was, and still am, in a bit of shock. I never thought I would ever write anything that was 70 pages, let alone have that document serve as a national resource for others. I am very happy that the document may help others. I was just happy to give back to an activity that has given me so much and keeps on giving.”

Although Ryan will be going to law school, he thinks he may consider education law and one day teach undergraduate pre-law and law school courses.

“Right now, I don’t know,” he said. “They say one foot in front of the other is the best approach.
Currently, I’m doing that.”

Looking at his life thus far, Ryan reflected on how he got to this place in his life, and he
remembers who helped him along his way.

“I just want to say thanks to my family for supporting me; my English teacher at Missouri State, Mrs. Tracy Dalton, for encouraging me to take this document as far as I could; and my debate coach, Mr. David Watkins, for teaching me to shatter my own limits. I appreciate everything they all did. I will never forget it.”

And, it’s very unlikely they will ever forget Ryan, and what he has achieved in his young life.