When he was a child, and poor by his estimate, Blake Bradley suffered from an immune disorder and needed expert medical help. The team that worked on him impressed him. He decided to become a doctor.
As he grew older he started thinking about teaching instead.
"You are creating with the kids when you are teaching," he said. "I wanted to help improve people's lives."
"I felt I could reach even more students as an administrator so after I started teaching chemistry here at Eldorado High School, I began working on my masters at (Southern Illinois University-Carbondale) in the evenings."
He taught chemistry at the high school for nine years, then an opportunity presented itself he could not pass up.
Eldorado Elementary School Principal returned to the classroom and the school board voted Bradley into the principal's position. Bradley liked Eldorado and wanted to stay. When the opportunity to move up came his way, he took it.
"The first thing I noticed about the staff in this school is their compassion. The kids have so much of the energy of youth. And the teachers have the energy to teach!"
After years teaching high school kids, elementary pupils are a different breed.
"Being around these kids is fun and exciting. There is a difference between them and high school age students," he said.
He found the high school student were more analytical.
"The elementary students are more trusting. After you prove yourself to high school students they start to trust you. It's all about relationship building. The people who have taught me the most are the one's I have had a real relationship with," Bradley said.
Bradley believes the characteristics of a good teacher are the desire to share knowledge, being a life-long learner themselves, patience and empathy and having the boldness to teach.
Bradley is no bureaucrat.
"Too many regulations shackle good teachers. Regulations can take away the art from teaching and reduce it to a science. Free thought suffers," he said.
Bradley said he grew up poor.
"Education gave me the skill to rise above poverty. It is a bridge to so much potential for success. Being able to contribute to positive changes in people is a great honor."