Influencer of the Week: Rene J. Guity, Southwest Middle

Rene J. Guity is the eighth-grade guidance counselor at Southwest Middle School and last year’s Teacher of the Year.

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Rene J. Guity is the eighth-grade guidance counselor at Southwest Middle School and last year’s Teacher of the Year. He goes above and beyond building important relationships among students, staff, families and community.

“He takes an active interest in the welfare of his students,” said principal Damian Rosado. “He knows how to empathize and relate to them and stay in touch with current trends and social climates in schools. He is a main source of continuity for students amidst changes and challenges both inside and outside of school. He is always looking for ways to help and knows how to intervene in a crisis with sensitivity. His encouragement and consistent presence help students to feel seen and supported. Mr. Guity reaches beyond the school walls to support families. He is a staple and true asset for Southwest Middle school.

“We make sure these students are on target academically, as well as socially, Guity said. “When I’m not in meetings or covering lunches, I am in the trenches with my kids. My office is usually crowded with students who come for various reasons. Ultimately, they know where to go when they realize who is genuine. I enjoy listening and guiding them with the prayer that something clicks in them so they can realize how great they can become. I am not one for attention or to receive credit. I do what I do to help.”

He said the best accolade is when students say how much it meant for him to be part of their lives.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” he said. “Well, unless a student says that you remind them of Hagrid of the Harry Potter world. That probably meant more to me that being Teacher of the Year!”

What brought you to your school?

I was working at Dr. Phillips High but with my daughter’s training/competition schedule, I thought that working for an online entity would provide me with more flexibility to help my children. I soon realized that I missed interacting with my students on a daily basis. So after a year of working virtually, I made my way back to a brick-and-mortar establishment, and Southwest seemed like a good fit. I’m so glad that I was given the opportunity to come back and mentor my little brothers and sisters.

What do you love most about your school?

Aside from these “youngins” that I get to watch grow and develop into amazing young adults, I would have to say my team of professionals. A lot of folks throw the word “family” out there so much that it’s become a cliché, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt I never feel like I’m working with coworkers. Here, we are certainly a family.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I don’t do anything for a reward. Being here for these kids is a calling and honestly it was done for me. I wouldn’t be here or even alive if it wasn’t for caring educators; one in particular saved my life. His name is Jeremiah Gaines, and he has never left my side since I was 16 years old. It was my job to return that type of support. I guess the best part is seeing young folks succeed and realizing how great they can become with a little hard work. It’s nice to be reminded that I had a hand in their growth.

What would you be if you weren’t in this profession? 

I would so write children books, which I have! Or a sports psychologist! Something helping young people is definitely what God called me to do.

Who influences you? 

God, my parents and Mr. Jeremiah Gaines. I was certainly blessed!

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

Jeremiah Gaines! He was the first teacher that looked past the obvious and really found out who I was. He cared enough to make sure I stayed on track and has never missed a milestone in my life. From graduations to the birth of my kids, that man is right there with my biological father, and I even call him Pop 2.0. He reminded me of my worth then, and he continues to echo that now.

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

My favorite children’s book is, “Our Daddy” by Rene Guity! You can find it on Amazon! It’s a story about the relationship I have with my own little people, although they are no longer little.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughters. My youngest is a golfer, so I love being out there with her. When I’m not doing that, I spend time reading, writing, playing chess or video games. I am very much an introvert, so quiet time is always appreciated!

If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?

If I could dine with any famous person, I might have to say Serena Williams, but my youngest daughter would have to be present. That way she could spend time with a woman of color who was at the top of her field so she could gain some insight on traveling that path with strength. I don’t want much for myself, so I’ll have dinner with anyone that is willing to help my kid!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Telepathy for sure. That way I could move stuff with my mind. I would say that would be helpful getting my Xbox controller! Time travel would be a close second! There are a few loved ones that had unfortunate situations I would change if I could.

If you could only listen to three bands or artists, who would they be and why?

The Roots, Erykah Badu and Adele. The Roots are my favorite group, and Black Thought is such an amazing lyricist. Erykah Badu just speaks to my soul! Adele, well it’s Adele. Who’s not hanging out with her if possible!? I love music!

What was your go-to lunch and favorite snack as an elementary student?

To this day, PB&J is the best sandwich ever created; and for snack time I loved peanuts and raisins.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Christmas, hands down! Very few times during the year where you see bright lights, presents, eggnog and happy folks just about everywhere you go. Let’s not forget the snow! I am a Bostonian, and Christmas away from snow just isn’t the same.

Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?

My best friend is a gentleman by the name of Eric Santomauro. When I moved from Boston, I was struggling to find my way. Eric is who God sent to help me navigate a new terrain. There really isn’t enough space here to fully express the why of my answer. He may not even know but he never wavered from side or deviated from the support and bond that middle school boys form. We are different sides of the same coin and I wouldn’t be here without him being a major factor in my life. Are we still in touch? Heck yeah! Every day, even now at age 48.

What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?

As a student I played sports and chess, wrote poetry/rhymes and I mentored kids at the YMCA in Portsmouth, Virginia, when I got out of school every day.


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