My Reach Journey: Looking to the past for a better future
Milton Paredes, a School Distance Facilitator in Arkansas’ Ouachita School District, has a deeply-rooted passion for history and a great respect for the field of teaching. His father was a history teacher, and Paredes hopes to follow in his footsteps once he completes his degree through Reach University’s teacher prep program.
Raised in south Texas, Paredes is the youngest of 16 siblings. “It was crazy with so many kids, but as the baby, you get what you want. Our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were always great. I feel fortunate for that,” said Paredes.
Following the unexpected passing of Milton’s father when he was only 8 years old, Paredes moved often and lived across the state. But once he met his wife, he was ready to settle and grow long-term roots. Shortly after marrying, they moved to her home state of Arkansas, where they’ve been rooted for more than 20 years.
Although having worked in a number of fields, Paredes was instinctively drawn to education and community service. He spent many years working in Arkansas’ public universities, where he would also take college courses, but the juggling of work and study was difficult, even in only taking a few courses at a time.
He then gravitated toward ministry and finished a bachelor’s degree in theology at the local seminary. “Through my work in the ministry, I’ve been in the local prisons and seen the impact of teaching there.”
When the local school district faced a teacher shortage, Paredes started substituting while still working as a minister. “Subbing really brought back my passion for teaching. Then I took a full-time position as a para and worked for two years in special education,” he said. Now he has his own classroom where he facilitates more than 40 online courses, nearly eight straight hours a day, for a group of 25-30 students in each course.
“I am working full-time, plus my ministry, so it’s busy. But the great thing about Reach is the affordability and flexibility. If you are a para, a janitor, or someone who has given up on a dream, Reach helps you continue. There are pathways for you to make that dream of being a teacher happen,” he said.
A leader in his Reach cohort, Milton has the possibility to move into any area of teacher specialization. “There’s a lot of subjects I love, but I’m looking at history at the secondary level. There is so much we can learn from history to be better as a nation and individuals.”
“And the fact that my father was a history teacher might play a part in this, too.”
Paredes alongside graduating students in Arkansas' Ouachita School District.