Graduating Greyhounds 2014: Everett “French” Reese, M.A. in Teaching

French Reese, who will receive his Master of Arts in Teaching from Loyola, always knew in the back of his mind that he wanted to be a teacher one day

By Matthew D. Kudler, '06

Shortly after Everett “French” Reese graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in English, he joined the Marine Corps.

After his military service he spent 18 years at KPMG, working his way up to managing partner with a worldwide practice.

Next was a move to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), where French served as chief of staff to Mary Shapiro, who would become chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

For most, this would have been the culmination of a successful and distinguished career. But not for French Reese, who always knew in the back of his mind that he wanted one day to be a teacher.

He decided at the pinnacle of his business career to take his leap of faith, moving from a high-salaried position to become a full-time student in training to teach.

After earning a second bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland and a Master of Arts in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, French enrolled in Loyola’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program to help fulfill his lifelong dream.

On the eve of Commencement, French spoke to Loyola magazine about his journey and future inside the classroom…

French Reese in the classroom with his students at Northeast High School. Photo submitted by French Reese.

You have always dreamed of becoming a teacher. What led you finally take the leap in the middle of a successful business career?

There were two major factors that drove me to become a teacher at this point in my life.

First, I have always dreamed of teaching students. In fact, I told my wife before we were married that I would eventually become a teacher.

Second, I had reached a point in my life when I knew that if I was ever going to leave the business world and have a meaningful career as a teacher, now was the time. Taking the step was a bit scary, but it has been well worth it.

What does it mean to you to have achieved your goal? Do you feel like you are coming full circle with your ambition?

I like the idea of a circle—it implies unity—but for me, this has been more of a life-long journey. In a sense, my life has taken me on many different paths, but my true vocation has always been to teach children. After careers in the military and in business, I can finally say I am finally “coming home” to my true calling.

Getting to this goal has been significant, but it pales compared to the satisfaction (and challenges) I will have in the classroom in the years ahead. Being named a Teacher of Promise for 2014 by the Maryland State Department of Education was a terrific honor, and it validated my feeling that teaching students is where I was always meant to be.

How did your military and work experience, combined with your love of the liberal arts, prepare you to become an effective educator?

It has been essential to my development. My military and business experience has helped me to manage my classroom more effectively. “Big deals” for many young or inexperienced teachers are simply not as important as they seem. I can prioritize quickly, and I can draw on my experience to bring relevant examples into what I teach.

The liberal arts… well, it is part of my DNA. It helps me to focus my students on learning about both themselves and the world around them. I try to teach them how to appreciate literature and historical texts. I also teach them how to write with clarity, and to understand that writing needs to be an expression of each student’s unique voice.

What subject or topics would you like to teach, and how do you envision your future classroom?

You really made me think about this one. I love both history and English, and my dream job would incorporate both subjects.

I would want to have a classroom with a lot of diversity: My students teach me through their own life experiences, and this makes me a better person each day. Other than that, I would say that my dream job is any classroom, any time, and any place at all.

Which elements of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program stand out to you the most in hindsight?

The mentoring that you receive during your internship is extremely valuable. Stacy Williams, my mentor, is extremely passionate about teaching, and she gave me excellent feedback during the year. All of the professors at Loyola are passionate, diligent instructors.

Is there any advice that you would give to future teachers considering the MAT?

I would advise any future MAT students to look at why they want a Master of Arts in Teaching.

If you are passionate about teaching children, and you want to learn from knowledgeable, motivated professors, and you are willing to work hard to achieve your goal… then Loyola is the place you want to go to get your MAT.

French is currently working in the classroom as a long-term substitute teacher at Northeast Senior High School in Pasadena, Md., as he finishes the MAT program. He has also taught English at Anne Arundel Community College while in the program. French will hear about his long-term teaching placement later this summer, although he hopes to remain at Northeast. He lives in Sherwood Forest, Md.

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1 Comment

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