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Dr. John Reese: Cultivating the Generations

John Reese
Dr. John Reese

When Dr. John Reese (History Education ’85, M.S. ’88) was a senior in high school, one of Pensacola Christian College’s traveling ensembles visited the Christian school he attended. While there, they left a scholarship with the principal, who later passed it on to young Reese. “I had intentions of attending another Christian college at the time, but my dad encouraged me to consider the offer, even though I had never set foot in Florida before,” he said.

When his Greyhound bus first arrived in Pensacola, Reese spotted a billboard advertising Coca-Cola for 5 cents per bottle. “I thought I had arrived in paradise,” recalled the native Pennsylvanian. “The heat and humidity soon persuaded me otherwise.”

Apart from adjusting to the climate, living independently in the residence halls brought a few lessons of its own. Before arriving at PCC, Dr. Reese had never been to a barbershop or done his own laundry. “Having grown up on a somewhat isolated dairy farm, I found college to be a substantial adjustment on several levels,” he said. “In those days, I played soccer for PCC’s original intercollegiate team, so I had plenty of dirty athletic socks to wash each week.”

John Reese teaching.

As he was completing his bachelor’s at PCC, Dr. John Reese began teaching history and chemistry at Pensacola Christian Academy; and, a year later, as Abeka began taping for its video school, he was asked to teach the taped history classes. It was during that time that he truly began developing a passion for history. “Two years later, as I was completing a master’s degree, I was invited to move into the college area to teach History of Civilization (HI 101–102), U.S. History (HI 202), and several education classes; the rest is history, as they say!” said Reese.

In 1990, Dr. Reese began working toward his doctoral degree in history at Florida State University. “In short order, I found myself cramming for Spanish and German language proficiency exams while completing 64 credit hours of content classes along with 24 hours of dissertation—393 dissertation pages and 27 months later, I emerged with a Ph.D. in History by God’s grace.”

Teacher teaching the history seminar in the lyceum.

In 1995, Dr. John Reese approached the administration with an idea—the history seminar. He wanted to bring history to life on stage, teaching about important historical events without the pressure of a quiz to follow. For 25 years, the annual presentation has shared historical narratives from both guest speakers and Dr. Reese’s monodrama-style presentations, which were inspired by Reese’s seventh-grade social studies teacher.

John Reese acts in a history seminar.

After 35 years, Dr. Reese has had generations of students enter his classrooms, including a sister, his own sons and future daughters-in-law, and his wife Beth (Elementary Education ’84, M.S. ’16), when she earned her master’s degree. “There are many rewards of teaching, not the least of which is seeing students complete their studies and go on to answer the Lord’s calling in their lives, whether it be in the professional world, politics, missions, or ministry,” he said. “It is truly a blessing when alumni come back and share how they were molded, in part, by concepts they learned in my history classes.”

Outside the classroom, Dr. John Reese enjoys reconnecting with his roots in the outdoors. He enjoys the intricacies of carpentry and woodworking, and he and his wife plant a large garden each year. “Some say I lead two lives—that of a professor and a farmer,” Reese explained. “It is a careful balance to maintain, but I find myself refreshed when I can set the professional duties aside from time to time and enjoy the outdoors.”

John Reese points out details of an artifact to students.

For his years of exceptional service at PCC, Dr. Reese was honored with the dedication of the 2019–2020 Summit yearbook. “As I reflect on the life and character of each of the previous recipients of this prestigious honor, I don’t feel worthy to be counted in their company,” said Reese. “All I can say is that God truly has been good to me!”

During his time at PCC, Dr. John Reese has seen change and growth across the ministries of PCC as well as in his own life. “I am a beneficiary of this ministry, and I am both humbled and honored to have a small part in this great outreach. I met my wife here, we reared our three sons here, and watched each of them graduate from PCC as second-generation alumni, marry fellow PCC grads, and follow the Lord’s direction in their families’ lives,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Horton’s determination to be used of the Lord. The Lord chose to use them to raise up a beacon of hope in the form of PCC and its affiliate ministries.”

Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.