Reese Education Center principal passionate about his new role

Farley Reeves is only two weeks into the school year as principal of Reese Education Center, but already he said he gets up in the morning excited to go to work and make a difference.

“This has been the best job I’ve ever had.”

Don’t take that the wrong way, he said. He’s always loved what he’s done, whether as a football coach at Monterey High School in Lubbock or as the assistant principal at Terra Vista Middle School.

But when he gets in his car to drive 17 miles to work each way, dropping his children off at TVMS even though they are from south Lubbock, he’s excited to get to Reese.

Already he has made some small procedural changes at Reese — the most notable probably being the addition of breakfast for students, which was already available at Frenship’s other schools.

After Reeves’ graduation from Denver City, where he played football and ran track, he went on to South Plains College in Levelland. He came to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech in 1988 and has been in the area ever since.

When he arrived at Texas Tech, he said it took him about a year to decide he wanted to major in education.

First he was majoring in computers, he said.

“I found it very frustrating not working with people and staring at a machine all day,” he said.

Reeves began thinking about someone who had made a difference in his life, a high school coach named Dale Underwood.

“He gave me a chance to believe in myself,” said Reeves.

Reeves said he was also considering entering the ministry to become a youth pastor, but he decided he would touch more lives as an educator. Now he teaches youth at Bacon Heights Baptist Church on Sunday mornings.

Reeves is passionate about educating students at Reese, and wants to change the perception that it is a disciplinary school. He said it’s almost like two schools within a school.

About 80 percent of the students there are in Wings, the academic credit recovery program.

Reeves said there are some students in Wings who simply fell behind, while others missed so much school due to illness they came to Reese to catch up. For instance, one student last year was placed in Wings because he had cancer and fell behind, Reeves said.

Other students in the program are students who, due to a family situation, may need to get out of school faster, Reeves said.

The other students at Reese are in a different area of the building, isolated and separated from the students there for academic reasons. They are part of the District Alternative Education Placement, a program for students with more serious disciplinary issues.

Another program at Reese is the Star Program, a boot camp to which some students come from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. each morning before attending school at another campus. Reeves said the students are assigned to the program by their home campuses for behavioral issues. But technically, these students are not enrolled at Reese, he said.

Students in the Wings program are in a self-paced program.

“They don’t have to wait on the class to get something done,” said Reeves. “If a kid is behind, that’s the way we get them caught up.”

If students do catch up to their classmates, they have the option to go back to Frenship High School or to continue at Reese.

“My job is a cheerleader” role, Reeves said. He is in charge of pushing and motivating the students. “I think our job here is to give these kids a chance at success.”

But Reeves said success is difficult to define.

“It’s an intrinsic thing; it comes from within to know if you’re successful,” he said. “Life offers different types of success.”

Although he said some of the students at Reese may not be emotionally prepared to start college after their graduation, it is the educators’ job to make sure when they decide to start classes later on, they will have the educational background to succeed.

And when he thinks about the kids, he thinks back to his high school coach who believed in him.

“I wanted to see these kids have somebody … to care for them and believe in them,” he said. “My heart and passion is for kids to have fair opportunity.”

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