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Defying Expectations

By Jimmy (ACE 27) and Patrick (ACE 29) Ryan

Ryan Brothers

Recently* we sat down with ACE 27 and multi-time ACE Blog contributor Jimmy Ryan and his younger brother, Patrick. Jimmy teaches at Archbishop Shaw High School in New Orleans, and Patrick will be teaching in Plaquemine, Louisiana, next year as a member of ACE 29. They’re members of a family that’s dedicated their lives to Catholic education. Here among the staff we wanted to take a few moments to get in their heads and see what drives these two siblings.

*This interview is entirely a fictional creation of the Ryan brothers. While they did not in fact sit down with Blue Skies Mike to chat, they do indeed share many interests.

Blue Skies Mike: Hey, guys! Thanks for being with us today. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourselves?

Jimmy: Sure, Mike. I’m from Billerica, Massachusetts, a bit north of Boston. I went to Notre Dame for undergrad, where I lived in Stanford Hall and studied mechanical engineering. I was an ACE Intern my senior year. Ryan Brothers

Patrick: Same to all that…I was also fortunate enough to serve as an R.A. in Stanford Hall as a senior this year.

Blue Skies Mike: What do you like to do in your free time?

Patrick: Well, we both enjoy baseball—

Jimmy: —whether it is playing, coaching, or watching—

Patrick: —and we love to play board games, even though we often get very competitive.

Blue Skies Mike: Woah, I can tell you guys are passionate about similar things. I can imagine that growing up in the same house, you guys spent a lot of time learning and maturing together.

Patrick: You’re right on target there, Mike. In fact, we’ve been known to finish each other’s s—

Jimmy: —sandwiches. Yeah. The Ryan boys believe in a “no food left behind” policy.

Blue Skies Mike: Haha, fair enough. Now Jimmy, where have you served with ACE? And Patrick, where will you be?

Jimmy: I’m in New Orleans, teaching physics and Latin at Archbishop Shaw, an all-boys high school.

Patrick: Also Louisiana, but over at St. John in Plaquemine, just outside of Baton Rouge. I’ll be teaching high school science—physics, chemistry, and physical science.

Blue Skies Mike: Ryans taking over Louisiana, eh? Well, let’s get into some questions that your fans are dying to ask: what made you guys pick ACE in the first place? What drew you to the program?

Jimmy: With two parents teaching, that path was always something on the radar but not necessarily prominent. Thinking about ACE became a little more real when the first priest I met on campus was Fr. Nate Wills, an awesome guy and great advocate for the program. ACE became even more real when I met several stellar Stanford men who were pursuing the program – guys like Jack Assaf, Joe Everett, Chris Westdyk. ACE Hall of Famers if you ask me. ACE was all about great community and using gifts to serve others, and that really spoke to me. Plus I was attracted by the opportunity to coach and continue using both my science and Latin background.

Patrick: Well, I was introduced to ACE through Jimmy and Stanford. When I was a freshman and he was a junior, his interest in the program helped expose me to the idea of teaching as a real possibility. Plus, my RA, Jared Kaminski, another great Stanford man, taught in the ACE program after graduation. Because of their influence, I attended ACE-sponsored events like trivia night and the infamous ACE Night, all catered by Chick-Fil-A, of course. The members of the ACE team showed through their passion and genuine care for me that this was a community worth joining. ACE embraces the idea of teaching as a vocation, specifically as an act of service to the community in which you are placed. The idea of offering my talents to help where I am needed was very appealing. At the end of junior year, I applied to be an intern, and the rest is history.

Blue Skies Mike: Thanks, Pat. Jimmy, looking back on your almost two full years of teaching, what is one thing that will remain with you well beyond these two years in the program? And thinking back to the start of your own ACE experience, what feelings do you recall, and what do you wish you would have known?

Jimmy: I remember one of the first things I thought about after getting the call was, “What are the folks in the NOLA house like?” To say I’ve been blessed is not a strong enough sentiment. Kateri, Katie, Cat, Connor, Joe, Marissa, Alex, Ella, Kristen, Eric—I love you guys, and thank you for your friendship and our shared memories. Thinking about how I felt at the start of these two years, I definitely recall the desire just to get down to New Orleans and start. It was a mixture of excitement and resolve. I really wanted to get after it, meet my colleagues and students, and get into the swing of things. If I could have reminded myself of something going into that experience, it would have been to try things even though you will feel busy. Explore the city or go to that basketball game or walk around the park or check out that church across town. Do those fun, joyful things. Lastly, I would have reminded myself, and give a little tip to Patrick here, that no matter what you prepare for, the kids will defy expectations, but you’ll love them just the same.

Blue Skies Mike: Now Patrick, you’re just on the cusp of your ACE experience, and maybe some of Jimmy’s words resonate with you. What are you most excited about as you head into the ACE Teaching Fellows program with two years ahead of you?

Patrick: Well, if I am being honest, I am most excited about meeting and working with all the people in my community—the kids, mostly, but also the other teachers, both those in my ACE house and at my school. Yes, I know that my students will inevitably frustrate me and exhaust me, but I cannot wait for the moments of growth that happen as students learn in the classroom, on the sports field, or any other setting. Teaching is not easy. While I have not taught in a classroom before, I do know that. Yet within that challenge lies the opportunity for so much joy and love—of God, of each other, and of science, I hope! I know I have so much to learn, which is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying, but I look forward to growing as an educator and mentor with the help of both other teachers offering assistance and students forcing me to adapt lessons to better serve them. In the end, I trust that God will work through me and push me towards greatness on this adventure.

Blue Skies Mike: Well said, Patrick. I would simply echo Jimmy’s point about leaning into your community as you begin ACE. They are your family, and you’ll come to realize that the program would not be the same without them. Enjoy the two years while you can. Jimmy, Patrick, thank you to you both. To all our loyal fans: blue skies, everyone!


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