WPS Families - The Reynolds Family
The Reynolds Family
Keith Reynolds and his sisters, Loretta Williams and Caroline Gates, are among six members of the family who all work for Wichita Public Schools. Their sister, Matilda Reynolds, a longtime para at Linwood Elementary who retired in 2018, passed away this past summer.
They all gravitated toward working in education because their mother often stressed the importance of education during their upbringing.
“Even though our mother didn’t get past the fourth grade, education was important to her and we’ve passed that on to another generation,” Caroline said.
“My mother’s philosophy was ‘If you’ll go to school, you’ll go to work,’” said Loretta. “I think we might have only missed two days of school from Pre-K to senior year.”
“To her, education was the key to overcoming obstacles,” Keith said.
Keith and his sisters were three of seven children raised by a single mother near 26th & Piatt in Wichita with little money but lots of tough love.
“We knew we could do better and she expected us to do better,” Loretta said.
Loretta Williams is an interrelated Social Studies teacher at Brooks Magnet Middle School who has worked for the district for 26 years. Her husband, Kevin, is a security officer at Northeast Magnet High School.
Loretta worked as a para at Cessna, Caldwell and L’Ouverture elementary schools. She got her teaching degree and master’s degree from Grand Canyon University, did her student teaching at Caldwell and began teaching at Truesdell and Mead Middle Schools before going to Brooks. She is currently getting a doctorate in teacher leadership from Southwestern College and hopes to become a principal.
“I love working with middle school students because they’re at a stage where you can still reach them and teach them before they enter high school when it all counts,” Loretta said.
She has set up a store in her classroom where students can earn incentives when they make gains in the classroom.
“It helps encourage them to do what others might have told them they couldn’t do or were afraid to do,” Loretta said. “I’ve had so many students work their way out of special ed into a regular classroom which is a place they never thought they could be.”
Keith Reynolds has worked for the district for 17 years. When he first started, he was Director of Title IX and the Americans With Disabilities Act in the Human Resources department where he served for 14 years before becoming Director of Equity and Diversity training for the district 3 years ago.
Keith has two sons who work in the district. Arsenio Reynolds Reason is a para at Colvin Elementary, and Adrian Reynolds Reason is a para at Northwest High School. His niece, Marsha Walls, is an administrative assistant at Benton Elementary School.
Keith’s sister, Caroline Gates, is a special education para at Gordon Parks Academy and has worked for the district for 15 years. Her grandson, Isiah, is a Financial Literacy teacher and assistant football coach at East High School.
“I started out working in latchkey at Linwood in 2007 and had a chance to became a para that traveled between Linwood and Enders,” said Caroline. “I’ve really enjoyed working with elementary special education students. When you give them the tools they need to be successful, they can spell and read just like everyone else, they just need a little extra help.”
The siblings often share the stories of their upbringing with the students they encounter at work.
“When young people see you with a tie on, they assume you can’t relate to them because of where they grew up but I tell them ‘I grew up in that same neighborhood on public assistance,’” Keith said. “They have a whole new respect for you because you hold the key on how to overcome those obstacles.”
“Life has brought me back to the same area I grew up,” Caroline said. “I walk to work sometimes and the kids are surprised to see me in their neighborhood.”
Loretta still keeps a photo of the family house on 26th & Piatt in her classroom as a reminder of where she came from.
“Education and God were our ticket out,” said Loretta.