David Kreutz: The Man of Multiple Careers


Photo courtesy of Olivia Griffith

Mr. Kreutz has created many things that have helped people and companies all over the world.

Olivia Griffith, Staff Writer

Human physiology teacher David Kreutz is not the usual teacher in that he doesn’t spend the majority of his time grading schoolwork or tests. Instead, he works on inventions and how to teach his discoveries to his students.

As a kid, he was a part of a single-parent household. With his mom balancing two jobs, he believed he had a choice. He could either keep doing what his family was doing, living off each paycheck as it came and wondering where dinner might be coming from, or he could keep going and become something more.

“I never want to go back to where I started in life, which was essentially nothing,” said Mr. Kreutz.

Since then, he has invented many things. One of the first things he came up with was a system that recovered dried droplets of paint, from a spray applied to cars, off the ground around 1983. Although he only changed a process that was already being used, it saved companies millions.

He also created a chemical cleaner for lacrosse balls. It gets rid of the dirt and gunk that covers them during lacrosse games and practices, allowing them to be re-used.

“People don’t really consider processes as inventing, however you’re inventing how to do something better,” said Mr. Kreutz on the matter.

Mr. Kreutz has been granted many awards. These include the National Presidential award in math/science; the Senator Herb Kohl Fellowship Award; an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee; induction into the Wisconsin Educator Hall of Fame; the Business Friend of Education Award; the RadioShack National Teacher of the Year; the Wisconsin Presidential Award in Math/Science; the American Chemical Society Teacher of the Year; and the State of Wisconsin Citation of Excellence from Madison.

As well as these awards, he was also awarded the Aurora Health Care’s “Aurora Star.” Even though these awards are generally only given to employees of the health care system, Mr. Kreutz received one. He was given this award by a doctor in the building whose daughters were both taught by Mr. Kreutz.

He is an unusual inventor in that he doesn’t patent his processes. To him, there is no point as someone could take the recipe, change one little thing and then release it as something completely different. Mr. Kreutz lives by the philosophy of sharing.

He uses his experience with inventing and incorporates it into his teaching. Instead of some teachers, who rely on facts or give examples and hope their students catch on, he goes a different route and does something he calls “guiding or mentoring.” This allows him to put his students in a place where they almost come up with the answer themselves. He believes it allows them to become more self-sufficient when it comes to work.

Mr. Kreutz is also the leader of the Cosmetic Club at LHS. He teaches students how to make lip balm, perfume, sugar scrubs, and more. According to him, some days he will even take time out of class to allow some students to try making some of these items.

Summer allows Mr. Kreutz to further develop and create processes, when he gets bored.

“They take time, but sooner or later, you’ll get the right process. And it usually is a process you’re looking for,” Mr. Kreutz acknowledged.

However, he says he also enjoys teaching, as it gives him a the chance to interact with a bunch of unique people.

When it comes to what inspires him to teach, his is not a particular student. Instead, it is a reaction given by students.

“It’s really not a person, it’s that point at the end of the year or further on when I get that email from a student and they tell me how much I’ve helped them. Or when they tell me that they hated science but now they’re getting a PhD in it. And they thank me for that,” he said.

Mr. Kreutz is someone who enjoys helping students. Two of his students, with his help, started up their own lip balm and perfume company. After taking one of his classes (on how to create compounds and different products), they decided on beginning a company. Mr. Kreutz helped them get a business plan together as well as a startup. He also allowed them to use his lab in Lake Geneva to make the product. They made more than 1,000 tubes of lip balm per day and sold it for $1.50 each. It took them about $.55 to make each tube. After they finished high school, they abandoned their company and went to college.

Since Mr. Kreutz arrived at LHS, he has made numerous friends and acquaintances. Many of them admire both him and his work.

“He’s a very fun, energetic person who really enjoys what he’s doing. He’s someone who wants to build relationships. Even though when he first got here he wasn’t as social because he didn’t know many people, he has really opened up since,” said chemistry honors teacher Mr. Pete Dawson, who has known Mr. Kreutz since he first interviewed with the school.