Q&A: Get to know new high-school counselor Pat Reynolds

New high-school counselor Pat Reynolds began working with SCDS students on Jan. 4.

Pat Reynolds is the new high-school counselor. For the past 16 years, she was the Upper School counselor at St. John’s School in Houston.

Reynolds attended James Madison University for her undergraduate studies.

“It was kind of a quadruple major: middle-school science, health, PE. And back in the day, I actually taught driver’s education,” she said. She received a master’s degree in education in counseling education from Cleveland State University.

Reynolds has 37 years of experience in independent schools.

Q: What was your first job?

A: I worked for the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles every summer while I was in college. I looked up people’s driving records and sent them to attorneys. (I worked) behind the scenes. I was a carrier pigeon from one department to another.

Q: How did you get interested in education and counseling?

A: I admired all of my teachers in high school. I’m a lifelong learner of whatever there is to be absorbed. I kind of liked the in-front-of-the-classroom aspect of being a teacher, like the “Can I get the attention of folks and hold them until the ‘aha’ moment occurs and grab that moment and get the most out (it)?” It’s like a live audience.

I felt like I kind of was natural at (teaching). I love research; I love creating new projects; I love problem-solving projects.

Q: What was your first job in education?

A: By chance someone I played softball with knew someone who knew of a school in Martinsville, Virginia (Carlisle School). They were looking for a sixth-grade science teacher. I drove down there and interviewed and voila, the job! Sixth-grade science was my first gig.

Q: What was next?

A: The Andrews School in Ohio. It was a boarding school. I taught middle-school science there and was in charge of six dorms.

Q: You’ve hiked in Alaska, the Tetons, the Grand Canyon and Big Bend National Park. What’s been your most memorable hike?

A: I think the Grand Canyon because the hike was from the south end to the north end. I never thought it was something I could backpack. It’s steep uphill; it’s steep downhill.

At the end it was really cool to catch up with the people and take pictures.

Many people camped the night before they started their hike from the South Rim. Then most people stay at least one night at the bottom, so there is socializing there.

Folks hung around the parking lot and took pictures and told stories at the end.

Q: You competed in a century ride (100-mile bike race) in Colorado in 2009, and you’re currently training for another race.

A: Once you turn 50, you can participate in the Senior Olympics.

I played on a senior basketball team in Houston, but have not yet found a basketball team here in Sacramento. So I decided to try and qualify for either the 20K or the 40K cycling road race. I will likely need to go to Napa or Pasadena to qualify for the National Senior Olympics, as I haven’t been able to find a qualifying event in Sacramento.

Right now it’s kind of chilly to ride. I’m riding indoors.

Q: What are your favorite TV series?

A: Right now, I’m watching season 2 of “Broadchurch.” It’s in the UK, and it’s a detective murder thing.

I’m a “Transparent” fan. I’m a “Parenthood” fan. “Sopranos.” “The Wire.” “House of Cards,” love it. “Game of Thrones,” love it. “Walking Dead,” love it. “Mad Men.” The new one, “Master of None.” Most of my TV watching is streaming once it’s already come out.

Q: Tell me about your rescue dog, Mocha.

A: I was a cat girl for a long time. And then Alice (my cat) went on to kitty heaven.

I (hadn’t gotten) a dog because I’m at school so much, but I went online. It had to be rescue, the right size. I didn’t want a puppy puppy.

(Mocha) was turned into a group called Pup Squad in Houston. She was a-year-and-a-half old and was pregnant. She had all the puppies with the foster mom. I got Mocha (when) she was about 2 years old. She just turned 4 in September.

She’s a mix, a little bit of beagle. She’s got some brown spots above her eyes. She’s a good girl.

Q: How did you end up in Sacramento?

A: Houston is growing. It’s too big for me. I think (Houston makes) the top 10 of all the worst traffic circles in the history of the world. I had taken a year sabbatical from St. John’s. I don’t enjoy not having things to do. I looked up the private schools in the Sacramento area. I sent out some feelers and got a call from Sacramento Country Day, and here I am.

Q: So you’re back in the classroom.

A: I think that being in the classroom helps a person stay abreast of what’s happening in the world. As a teacher you have to look at all sides of something; you can’t get stuck in the rhetoric. It keeps me sharp.

—By Zoë Bowlus

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