Faculty Focus: Dr. Reynolds

Nolan Patton, Writer

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Dr. Betty Reynolds is an Algebra teacher here at JPII. She is originally from New York, and moved to Nashville in 1995. She has been teaching for nearly 30 years, including four years as a principal at Holy Rosary Academy; this year is her third at JPII. We asked Dr. Reynolds a few questions about JPII and a couple of other fun topics.

Herald on the Hill: Why did you choose to teach at JPII?

Dr. Reynolds: I didn’t really choose to teach at JPII; it kind of chose me. Two years ago, I had planned to retire as principal at Holy Rosary Academy. I spent 16 wonderful years at HRA, the last four of which were as their principal. I really missed teaching! During the last 8th grade visit, I was sitting at lunch with Mr. Deely. He asked me to come teach at JPII, and I thought it would be a good idea. So that’s how I wound up at JPII!

Herald: Do you think JPII is hard on its students, and is this a good thing?

Reynolds: I think it depends by what you mean by “hard.” If you mean “hard” as rigorous, challenging, demanding, and getting students to think deeper about everything, then yes, JPII is “hard.” I think that’s a good thing. I really believe that everyone has a place here where their strengths are allowed to shine. I believe demanding students to do their very best while providing support creates a school culture where excellence becomes the prevailing characteristic.

Herald: What do you like and dislike about teaching JPII students?

Reynolds: I do not dislike anything about teaching JPII students. I’ve taught many, many students over my 30-year career. I’ve taught kids from all different walks of life: different ethnicities, different socio-economic status, different languages, and I even taught in Mexico for a brief period. I do not see a difference in students except that maybe kids are more “stressed” now than what I remember in the past.

Herald: What do you think your biggest strength is as a teacher?

Reynolds: I think my biggest strength as a teacher is that I love laughing. I love having fun. If something is not fun to do, then I really hate doing it. I hope to convey that to my students.

Herald: What about your biggest weakness as a teacher?

Reynolds: My greatest weakness is in organization. I tend to be a bit scattered sometimes. My comfort with technology has increased a bunch and that has helped.

Herald: What was your favorite part about being an elementary school principal that you can’t get being a high school teacher?

Reynolds: Hugs from the little kids! I miss that.

Herald: What made you decide to be a math teacher?

Reynolds: I’ve always struggled with math. I was always the kid who could never “get it.” My high school algebra teacher, who never gave up on me, inspired me. I hope that I honor her memory by doing for my students what she did for me.

Herald: Do you have any hobbies you’d like to tell us about?

Reynolds: I have had numerous hobbies over the years, but the two that have stuck with me are music and worms. Weird combination, I know, but that’s just who I am. I sing with my church choir, and I play the guitar, although I’m really rusty now. Music has always been my first love. The second love of mine is gardening and my worms. I have a little worm farm with nearly 4,000 red wrigglers that produce vermicompost that I use in my garden. Vermicompost is just a fancy name for “worm poop.” Every three months, I harvest the vermicompost from the worm bins and it gets mixed into the garden soil. It provides tons of nutrients and good bacteria for plants.

Herald: If you could live in any time period, which would you choose and why?

Reynolds: If I could choose a time period, I would choose the distant future because I would hope that people would be well engaged in space travel. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut, so that’s where it comes from. Before the Challenger disaster of 1986, I had applied to be one of the Teachers in Space for NASA. If the Challenger expedition had not ended so tragically, NASA had a great program for teachers to participate in that I was really excited about. Unfortunately, the death of so many civilian participants in that expedition forced NASA to terminate the program.

Herald: What is your favorite movie?

Reynolds: My favorite movie is Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. It’s romantic, but it has a cool science-fiction element in that it involves time travel. I love science fiction, and as a classic nerd, I love Star TrekLord of the RingsHarry Potter, and all that cool stuff.

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