By Michael J. Solender
In high school, Ronny Reddig so enjoyed developing his culinary skills, he dared to dream of a career as a professional chef. It was an inspirational connection with a special teacher however, that led him in a markedly different direction, one where his talents would see him cook up an entirely different recipe for success.
Reddig chose the classroom over the kitchen and is in his 27th year teaching middle school. He’s spent his entire career with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). Reddig began at Eastway Middle School, where he taught for eight years and has spent the past 19 years at Piedmont Open IB Middle School where he teaches U.S. and N.C. history to eighth graders.
“I had a teacher that encouraged and inspired me and helped me realize I could ignite that in others,” says Reddig, the Region IV, 2016 Magnet Schools of America Teacher of the Year. “I came to learn I could connect with kids and make an impact. I love the feeling. To see kids grow, achieve success, and have them come back and share those experiences – It’s addicting.”
Making connections with his students, their families, colleagues, and throughout the community is the secret sauce fueling Reddig’s success. He’s routinely recognized for his leadership and mentorship skills by his peers and school administrators.
He was named a top ten finalist for the National Teaching Tolerance Teacher of the Year in 2014, and in 2015, received the Joseph B. Hughes Award for Excellence in History Education. Reddig has held a National Board Certification since 1999 and has twice presented at the National Magnet Schools of America Conference.
Reddig brings his energy and enthusiasm to young people beyond the classroom as well. One passion project is supporting the Young Black Leadership Alliance (YBLA), a community-based organization focused on educating and developing young black leaders to have a positive impact in their community and beyond. “I’ve been so privileged to work with YBLA for the past 10 years,” says Reddig, who teaches ‘7 Habits of Effective Teens’ and serves as a service and cultural literacy trip coordinator for the organization.
“We’ve gone on service missions to places such as Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic,” says Reddig. “To have our kids work with communities in need and gain different cultural experiences is invaluable for them.”
Asked what advice he has for newly minted teachers; Redding doesn’t hesitate in his response.
“Relationships are the key to good teaching and longevity in education,” Reddig says. “Early on I understood connecting with the kids was going to be key in opening them up to learning. All the knowledge in the world does not matter unless you can connect. Teaching is all about building relationships.”