CHARLESTON—When John Reyes talks about his time spent teaching, his whole demeanor lights up with enthusiasm.
It is a passion he has redirected from one classroom into hundreds of classrooms, reaching thousands of children in his new role as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the Diocese of Charleston.
Reyes said he hopes to be a force that will empower principals to be instructional leaders. He envisions them working behind the scenes with teachers so that everyone in the schools believes every child has the potential to learn.
“We need to remember that we are part of something larger than ourselves,” he said, adding that Father Ron Nuzzi, noted educator, summed it up best when he said: “Catholic schools do not have a mission — the mission has schools.”
Reyes said he grew up in the Church. At age 13, he wasn’t just part of a youth group, he was helping lead it. That was at Incarnation Catholic Church in Glendale, Calif., he said, which encouraged youth to be involved in leadership roles. He also attended the parish school, and then Cal Poly Pomona, and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles for graduate school.
When he was 19, he decided to take a year off before pursuing his planned goal of attending law school.
“I thought: ‘I’ll teach. How hard can that be?’” Reyes recalled. “No. 1, it was really hard. No. 2, I fell in love with it.”
Bitten by the Catholic education bug, he never went back to the law school plan. Instead, he spent four years teaching at St. Bernard Catholic School in northeast L.A., where he had the amazing blessing of seeing how faith and critical thinking could merge. He said it was a beautiful experience to witness how Catholic education can change the trajectory of kids’ lives.
From the classroom, Reyes moved to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to serve as director of education technology. He noted that he went from 220 kids at his old school to 77,000 through the archdiocese.
After five years there, Reyes said he and his wife started discerning the best place to serve next; somewhere they could plant roots and grow their family.
Charleston was the answer, he said, because it is a growing diocese with a brand new schools position. Reyes said Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone provides a tangible commitment to the schools, and he is excited to help shape and realize the vision set by the bishop.
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