Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Mary Mazzoni Reames ’68, M’69
B.A., Elementary Education/French • M.Ed., Reading • Principal certification
Mary Mazzoni Reames’ Westminster experience prepared her well for a lifetime as an educator. After earning her undergraduate and post-graduate degrees from Westminster College, Reames spent 50 years in education as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and college professor. Now retired, Reames reflects on the impact Westminster had on her personally and professionally.
Why did you choose Westminster College?
I was interested in going to a small college for a degree in teaching.
What has life been like since graduation from Westminster?
I married my college sweetheart, Brian Reames '68, and we had two children, Tony and Susan. Brian was in the Air Force when he contracted a virus that attacked his heart. As a result, he had a heart transplant in 1981 and lived for seven years. He was a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient prior to his death. I raised my children while working in public schools. My son graduated from Pitt and is a computer programmer. My daughter, Susan Reames Risavi ’99, graduated from Westminster and is a math teacher at Greenville Area High School. I am proud to say I am grandmother to five wonderful children who surprise and delight me daily. I volunteer in my community, where I am a member of the Greenville Area School District Board of Directors. I have also been active with Relay For Life for the past 19 years. I serve on the Alumni Council at Westminster and have been involved in class reunion planning for many years.
How well did Westminster prepare you for your career?
I am Westminster educated through and through. My undergraduate degree helped me get teaching jobs in Texas, New York, Virginia and Jamestown, Pennsylvania. I was fortunate enough to get my master’s degree in reading, and that degree has been invaluable in securing the teaching jobs that I sought. I earned my principal's certification through the Westminster Graduate Program and went on to become an elementary principal for 14 years and an assistant to the superintendent for the last six years of my public school tenure. I taught as an adjunct for Westminster for over 10 years and as a lecturer for Thiel College for the past 15. I would say I was very prepared.
How would you describe the level of academics you experienced during your time at Westminster College?
The academics were rigorous and interesting. I believe that the quality of professors was top notch. I enjoyed my classes and learned a lot.
What Westminster professor influenced you the most and why?
I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Clara Cockerille, a professor of education at Westminster who changed my life. She was by far the best teacher I have ever known. As a result of her influence, after graduation, I was awarded an assistantship in the education department and that was the best experience a young teacher could have. Her influence has stayed with me my whole life and I believe I am the educator she hoped I would be.
How did your assistantship impact you?
I was the graduate assistant in the Westminster education department in 1968-69. I had the privilege of working with education professor Dr. Jerb Miller during his first year at Westminster. It is a year that I will never forget and certainly never regret. One of the most interesting activities that I was engaged in after college was being a member of a task force sponsored by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD,) an international educational organization known for curriculum development. I served with 100 others from all over the country for a two-year investigation into thinking skills curriculum. It was a great honor to be chosen. I was able to work with the top researchers in education and as a result was able to develop programming that was used in many American schools. I believe that my background here at Westminster added to that experience.
Did you participate in any organizations or activities when you were a student?
I was a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority, the Titanaire drill team and manager of the women’s basketball team
What makes the Westminster College experience unique?
The people and the friendships. I have remained friends with a vast majority of my classmates over the 50+ years since graduation. I can say that my closest and dearest friends to this day come from that group of classmates. I cherish the memories of my days on campus and often come back and reminisce about the good times we had.
What significant life lesson did you learn at Westminster?
Honesty, integrity and hard work win the day.
Why should a prospective student consider coming to Westminster College?
The values of Westminster have not changed in the half century that I have been involved. It is a good place to get a start, learn to think and become involved. The friendships are as important as the lessons taught. In a day when we seem as a society to lose sight of what is important, Westminster is still a place where a student can become grounded and go on to make a difference in the world.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself on that first day on campus?
Be organized, schedule, take risks, volunteer, speak up and be humble.
To learn more about Westminster’s education major, please visit www.westminster.edu/education.