“The hard thing is that when you choose a time to retire, you get a new enrollment of students. With this enrollment, you want to teach and get to know this child for a year but that year would become five years, so you get to a point where you just have to say no and retire.”
Reese and gifted specialist Terry Meek have taught gifted education for over 40 years in Cleveland School District before deciding to retire this academic school year.
Reese and Meek became close friends throughout their journey in gifted education and have raised their children, along with their husbands, together.
“We met while teaching. There were only three of us back then, so we had to rely on one another,” Reese.
“Even our children were in Project Pass together and are very good friends. In fact, my youngest Jane and Patsy’s oldest Christopher are the same age and are very much alike. They both studied English and are now college professors,” said Meek. “Jane teaches a creative writing class at Ole Miss, while Christopher teaches English Lit. at the University of Kentucky.”
Reese and Meek have always had a passion to teach in special education.
“I started in special education because I have a little sister, who is now a functional adult, that struggled when she was younger so it seemed like a natural progression,” said Reese.
“When I was in the first grade, I made my decision to be a first grade teacher. In 1970, I was offered my first job as a first grade teacher. Since then, I have been teaching and promising myself that I would not be as frightening as my first grade teacher was to me and my twin. My teacher was very stern and had us memorize a lot of difficult things at an early age,” said Meek.
Both teachers offered their sincerest gratitude to the Cleveland School District.
“We can honestly say that the years we have spent in Cleveland School District have been the absolute greatest. The administrators have been really supportive to our program, Project Pass.”
Project Pass, the district’s gifted education program, serves second through sixth-graders.
“To be in Project Pass or to be in a gifted intellectually program in Mississippi, you have to an IQ above 119. Our children’s IQ range from 119 to up as high as they possibly can go. We have had some stars in our program over the years,” said Reese.
“Project Pass in Cleveland has had several state and national champions in competitions like the Odyssey of the Mind,” said Meek.
Reese, who received both her bachelor’s of arts in special education and master’s of arts in special education from Mississippi State, is the wife of local optometrist, Dr. Frank Reese. They have two sons, Christopher and Ryan.
“It is by far the best job in education as far as I am concerned. I have taught all different kinds of children and one truth I have learned is that children are more alike than different,” said Reese.
“The differences between a gifted child’s IQ and intellectually challenge child’s IQ is that one number but all children feel and respond to things the same kind of way.”
Meek, who received both her bachelor’s of arts in elementary education and master’s of arts in special education from Delta State, is the wife of Delta State’s physics professor, Dr. Carlysle Meek. They have one son, Joe, and one daughter, Jane.
“What I plan to do after I retire has yet to be seen. However, one thing I am proud to say is that for the summers of 2001 and 2002, I taught remedial reading, math, and English at Mississippi Valley State University for students that were on the margin for being admitted to the university. This truly warmed my heart to help children get into college,” said Meek.