Farewell to Mr. Reynolds: Quiet Confident Optimism


Cricket Whitman at Cricket's Photography

Lucas Reynolds

Sophie S., Journalist

We sit in classrooms, not the conventual sense, but through the highly debated blackboard and zoom rooms. From the outside, it may seem like a guarded way of learning, but our mentors have cultivated an environment where students are proud to speak on behalf of their beliefs.

Mr. Reynolds didn’t always think that you could successfully teach online. “Teaching in its essence is being able to build that relationship,” said Reynolds. “And help a student be able to accomplish something or learn something to come to a better understanding of truth and reality than they could do on their own.”

“When a teacher and the learner do that together there’s something magical that happens,” Reynolds said. “And that is what I loved about teaching, and I was like, you can’t do that online. So, I started, and I taught for a semester, after one semester I realized you kind of can.”

Every student has a story. For the majority of burgers, Mr. Reynolds has been a big part in that story. Williamsburg is an international community of students and mentors who thrive from a challenge, students who are told to do seven and they say give me eight. “Right now, I get to work with students that are really awesome high-performing students that at the age of 16 are saying high school isn’t enough,” said Reynolds.

I started attending the Williamsburg high school program with an elementary level mathematics education and love for books. Cut to me at 18, graduating high school with 60 college credits and both my high school and college math classes complete.

“On the other hand of the spectrum there are students in Inner City Chicago, which are the schools I will be working with, where it’s not an even a dream on their horizon,” said Reynolds. “Where being able to graduate high school would be an incredible accomplishment that would change the trajectory of their family.”

It’s a different demographic, both of which have an intense need. Sociology tells us that if a student is having stereotypes placed on them or if they repeatedly tell themselves they are bad at math or can’t read that affects their ability to learn.

I am where I am today because I had mentors and parents who gave me what I needed to succeed and let me figure it out on my own. If I am candid, I spent years thinking I was terrible at something because I wasn’t taught in a way that suited me and turns out I miss the endless equations.

We can be sad and disappointed that Mr. Reynolds will no longer be a face we see in Elevation or class, but I think we can all agree that with world needs more than one Williamsburg. We also know that the mentorship that he has given hundreds of students won’t leave, just as it wouldn’t if you were the one to go first.

Just like we have our own educational story, Mr. Reynolds had his own as well. He was homeschooled and attended co-ops in his area. “I had a lot of friends that were in a traditional public-school model,” Reynolds said, “To me, it just felt like their education was how many girls could they kiss and how could you get the best grade with the least amount of work.”

“It felt so different from what I was experiencing which was an infatuation or this love of learning, love of truth,” said Reynolds. “I felt in some ways school was a place that education went to die.”

At fourteen, he reached as far as his schooling could take him, so he taught as a TA and eventually has his own classes within his co-op. He took it upon himself to read Shakespeare and read the works of great philosophers and thinkers. At 16, he began attending college as a political science major and on the side, he taught.

He became involved in Williamsburg Middle School because his sisters asked him if he would be interested in teaching. So, senior year of college he was a TA part-time, and James Ure asked him to teach Government and Economics, and he declined due to his original prejudice against online schooling.

The following year, when Ure asked him to teach Government and Economics, he said yes. At Williamsburg, he progressed from being the program leader to the assistant executive director and now the executive director of the private school.

Reynolds will be working to bring technology into schools to supplement and assist in building strong educational programs. In the job market, the new standard is to have a diverse resume, and he will be working to standardize learning software in schools. Namely, assisting students with math and language literacy development. Though he has learned so much from Williamsburg, this new opportunity will allow Reynolds will learn different skills he can use to start business and nonprofits in the future.

“I would leave them (the student body) an invitation,” said Reynolds. “To live without fear. It’s so easy to be afraid of what will happen if I don’t do this, what will happen if I don’t do that. What will happen if I don’t get this assignment submitted on time.”

“For so much of our lives we live in fear, and we’re envisioning the worst-case scenario,” said Reynolds. “Rather than envisioning the best-case scenario and working towards that with a quiet, confident optimism… Miracles can happen, and doors can open so things that seem totally impossible right now can be very possible and sometimes easy.”