Postgraduate student Marilyn Reims was selected to participate in the Pahara Institute Scholarship, a program that brings together leaders in excellence in education and justice, especially those serving low-income children and the community.
Reims came to the U of A for research “at the intersection of faith, race and education” under the guidance of her faculty advisor, Professor Patrick Wolf, in the Department of Education Reform. Author and speaker, Reims uses the principles of Christianity to uphold policies that promote educational justice for children and families living in fragile communities.
In 2011, Reims founded the nonprofit Teachers Who Pray, which has more than 140 school offices in America. She made two presentations at TEDx, including “Why Faith Corrects Education”. An education consultant with clients in the charitable, government and nonprofit sectors, Reims served on Harvard University’s Group of Designers Institute for Faith and Education Leadership. Her book, Master Teacher: 12 spiritual lessons that can change the school and revolutionize public education serves as a course at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
“I worked as a journalist in New York for seven years, but after the coverage of the terrorist attacks on September 11, I felt that I had called myself to become a teacher,” she said. “I returned to my hometown of Chicago and started teaching in 2003.”
Reims said she quickly realized that teaching was “the hardest and most important job” she had ever done. Chicago public schools lost 25 to 30 students a year due to street violence. Her students came to class with serious academic, social and emotional needs.
“As a Christian, I knew there was more work than I could do alone, so I started praying with other teachers at my school for help and hope,” she said. “We needed inspiration and spiritual support to do our best every day.”
She created the Teachers Who Pray program to inform educators of the faith that praying before and after school or during a duty-free lunch break is legal. Her presentation at TEDx in 2018 “Why Faith Corrects Education” focused on learning as a spiritual cause.
“In fact, the act of teaching is divine, but teachers are people,” she said.
Reims earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Dominican University, a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a master’s degree in education from Louis National University. She expects to graduate with a Ph.D. in Education Policy at University A in May 2024.
Reims is among 23 Pahara fellows who have been deliberately selected from a variety of ethnic groups, ideologies, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds to explore together the concepts of racial justice in education.
“We are encouraged to fully express ourselves in the Pahara area and to have courageous talks on how best to achieve racial justice in K-12 schools,” she said.