A Westminster Education: Its Nature and Impact
1996 graduate Ryan Giles shares his views on the nature and impact of a Westminster education.
The faculty and staff of Westminster and First Presbyterian Church will never know the positive impact they have had on my life.
I came to Westminster, quite begrudgingly, as a 15-year-old boy in tenth grade, raised in the suburbs of Northern Virginia outside of Washington, D.C., having just moved to Aiken, South Carolina.
At the time, that meant that I had to spend 45 minutes a day traveling to school each way. I had to follow a dress code and study the Bible every day for the first time in my life. It meant that teachers were going to get to personally know me, my family, my work habits and lack of study skills.
Many teachers took the time to get to know me. Some of these include Susan Smith, Gil Redpath, Randall Nichols, Rosa Root and Emily Story. I enjoyed my time in the athletic department under the coaching of Mark and Leisa Tebbs in basketball and tennis. I came to have a personal relationship with our Lord by attending High Life and First Presbyterian Church services with friends on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.
The greatest impact on my education seemed to come in Craig Johnson's history classes. The preparation, concern, effort and personal interest that Mr. Johnson put into his lessons every day had an impact. I eventually became a certified history teacher in the Charleston County School District after studying history and earning a BA at Furman University and teaching, eventually earning an MAT in secondary education at the Citadel and later an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership.
I have served Charleston County since 2004, but most recently, I have been assistant principal at Moultrie Middle School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Here, I have shared many lessons with students of all walks of life through teaching high school and middle school history, coaching high school basketball and being an administrator with a focus on discipline, technology, special education and engaging students.
I have and always will take with me the lessons learned at Westminster. While I live and breathe educational decisions all day, every day, I do my best to do it with the compassion and ethics learned at Westminster. While I attempt to raise my own three sons, I hold Westminster as a measuring stick or benchmark of the type of education I expect for them.
I hope I have expressed how much the leadership of the school, support of the church and its pastor John Oliver have meant to me.
Ryan Giles, Class of 1996