James Craig Dreves leads community outreach initiatives with Rye Middle School kids as part of his belief in civic responsibility, a real-life example of the history lessons he presents as a teacher at the school. While many of the students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades know him as the history and English teacher, Dreves was the education coordinator and volunteer for an evening language school in Peru in 2003-04, was a high school English teacher with the Peace Corps in Romania from 1998-2000 and was an English teacher as part of the NOVA Intercultural Institute in Osaka, Japan, from 1996 to 1998.
The 39-year-old Rye resident is the founder and director of VolunTravel Inc. in Rye which organizes and leads international service trips for families and students to the developing world. He’s led trips to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Pichu, Peru; created and is director of Reach Out Rye, an organization started in 2005 to encourage and lead teens in community outreach activities and led local efforts to created a time capsule project for Rye’s 350th anniversary in 2010. He speaks Spanish and “conversational Romanian.”
Why did you get into education? “Much of my family is in education. My father has been on the Board of Education in Port Chester for over 20 years. My mother worked for the principal at the Port Chester High School for over 20 years and my sister taught in the elementary schools in Rye and now teaches in Colorado. I often say that education chose me, more than I chose education. I love working with kids and volunteered in an orphanage in Romania and then worked with street children in Peru, so a career working with kids seemed like a perfect fit.”
Hard-earned wisdom? “Regarding life: Do what you love and love what you do. We’ve only got so much time on this planet so we’ve got to make every day count. Regarding teaching: Keep expectations high but let the kids know that you believe in them. Learning is important, but much of it requires hard work and perseverance. I try to convey that I believe in them and will do everything I can to help them achieve their best.”
Recommended book: “Pay if Forward” by Catherine Hyde and “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coehlo. Social media site recommendation: www.28daysofkindness.com