Patrick Reynolds

Shaping Young Minds

Every weekday for three to four hours, sophomore Patrick Reynolds is fondly known as "Mr. Patrick."

The early childhood education major from Toomsboro works with elementary-age boys at the local Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia, where he tutors, listens and plays with the eager young faces who look up to him.

Patrick has a passion for teaching young children, for trying to make an impact on young lives and to be a bright spot in their day.

"I want to teach third grade one day," he says. "Right now I have interaction with kindergartners through eighth-graders, but my favorite is second- and third-grade. That's when you can see exactly when the light bulb comes on and they say, 'I got it. I understand this now. I will remember this and I can use it further on.'"

He says he's wanted to be an elementary school teacher ever since seventh grade, when he had a football coach who made a profound impact on his life.

"He just encouraged me every day," Patrick says. "He told me I would be a great individual if I just let God have his way with me. It eventually led me to think that I wanted to do the same thing; I wanted to impact kids so they could have a successful life."

To help fund his education, Patrick not only works at the Boys and Girls Club but also has jobs at Highland Country Club and JWT Catering with local chef Jeffery Tucker.

"I feel that you can do anything you put your mind to, and one of my biggest things is that I think you have to work hard so you can play later," he says. "I work hard and strive to do my best in all three jobs. But in addition to that, I believe it's equally important to spend time helping in your community.

"People will help you if they see you giving—giving of yourself, giving of your time. Some have even donated to my educational fund because they tell me they want to see me do great things in my community."

Patrick and three other young men founded a reading program at the Burwell Psychoeducational Center in LaGrange. They mentor the young men there and visit with them each week.

"Sometimes it might even only be for 15 minutes," he says. "Last Thursday we talked about character, about who you are and what you do when no one's watching. We hope eventually to plant a seed in each one of the kids. We might not be here in the future to see them grow, but hopefully one day that seed will grow and impact a child's life."

Several people have had a lasting impact on Patrick's life, including his parents and also his grandfather, who gave him his first job at 13 helping cut firewood, producing and selling fruits and vegetables and collecting scrap iron. Both his father and grandfather are preachers, and their Christian influence has always been present in Patrick's life.

"As much as I tried at times growing up to 'sway away' from being a preacher's kid," he says, "it always came back to me and I knew the right things to do in situations. God has always had his hands on me and gives me the right perspective."

Patrick said several members of the faculty and staff at LaGrange College also have inspired him, including Linda McMullen, Assistant Professor and Director of the Evening Studies Program; Dr. Marc Shook, Associate Provost and Dean of Student Engagement; and Dr. Jack Slay, English Professor and Director of the Servant Scholars Program.

"One of my favorite professors on campus is Mrs. McMullen," he says. "I have not had her as a professor, but she continues to pop up and impact me, whether it be at a cultural enrichment program or Orientation. She carries herself in the most awesome way. She has this vibrant personality; it impacts me even seeing her from afar. She is intelligent and makes no excuses, and therefore I have no excuses not to continue my education.

"And then there's Dean Shook and Dean Slay. They helped mold me, helped me move from my small country state of mind to think global, to think about how anything I do now can impact others. They have helped me get from 'country boy' to understanding I can affect the world through anything I do, whether it be positive or negative."