By Elaine Pool

“A wish is something you would like to see.  A dream is something you would work hard for.  A plan is the bridge between a wish and a dream.  Consistent execution is the bridge between your dream and reality.”  When there’s an educator who functions under philosophies like these, you know you’ve got a winner.  Dr. Bill Ray is an educator (he dislikes the title teacher) at Word of God Academy and this month’s private school Educator of the Month.  He works under the mindset that he is in the classroom not only to impart knowledge but also to get his high-school students ready for the “real world.”  To that end, his subjects include Senior Math, also called consumer math.  He wants his students to be serious about learning because they are “practicing to be adults.”

Part of Bill’s goal as an instructor is never to let his students fail so badly, they can’t recover.  He wants them to have a return path to excellence.  He believes that giving kids second chances can literally transform their lives.  His previous experience was as an Assistant Professor at Louisiana Tech University while simultaneously achieving his Doctor of Engineering at La. Tech.  He spent 28 years at La. Tech, retired from there, and moved straight to Word of God Academy.  Bill teaches everything math: Algebra, Senior Math, Physics, and Computer Programming.  He says, “Algebra is my hammer; I still have my math.”

Bill is most proud of his “A/B or retry” policy, allowing students to retake a test until they achieve at least a “B” on it.  He says, “That way, they master the knowledge.”  He related a story of one of his university students who struggled for several years but never gave up.  Upon graduation, the student brought his parents to meet Bill, telling them, “This is Dr. Ray.  He’s the reason I graduated college.”  Bill prefers to be called a professor: “I profess knowledge.”

Bill likes to cite Dave Ramsey, author, and financial advisor, by saying, “Adults make a plan and follow the plan.  Children do whatever feels good in the moment.”  His best moments are when he sees his students’ faces when he has “stamped out the little fire of ignorance.”  He aims to get them ready for adulthood, for total independence financially.

Bill is one who did not take the traditional path towards being a teacher.  Upon receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, he worked in the private sector for eight years before beginning his journey as a college professor and doctoral student.  His doctorate took him twelve years due to being a full-time Assistant Professor at La. Tech, all the while commuting from Shreveport on a daily basis.  Upon retirement, he realized that it was almost impossible to be a new hire as an engineer at his age, so he came on board at Word of God Academy.  

What keeps Bill showing up?  It’s not the money, of course; it’s the interactions with the kids.  “I teach for the opportunity to annoy children.  I get to make an impact on children.  You can’t make someone learn something, but you can make them memorize something.”

Bill’s words of advice to students include this: “Have fun but don’t take life seriously.  Have fun but live on purpose; recognize you’re prepping for a future.  You will never have such great opportunities; food, clothing, and shelter all are provided to you.  All you have to do is prepare yourself for when they (parents) are not doing it for you.”