Public speaking expert Dorris Reese helps home schooled children polish their skills, but public school students cannot benefit from her 20 years of experience unless she takes college education courses to become state-certified.
She radiates passion for her subject and love for her students. They respond with eager hands, creased brows, and chewed pencils: the signs of thought and of learning.
For many of her students, this class is the beginning of something greater than improved speaking, something more persuasive than a heated debate. It is the birth of their self-confidence.
"It's always been my mission to help people grow," says Dorris Reese, managing director of Dior Training and Consulting and instructor for the course, "Speak Up With Confidence."
Reese brings her more than 20 years' experience in designing and conducting speech workshops for corporate employees to the public speaking and debate courses that she now teaches for homeschooled students.
In a typical six-week course like the one she teaches in Southfield, Reese takes her students from reticent, nervous "squeakers"-to use one student's phrase-to poised public speakers.
She teaches students how to write and give speeches and instructs them in the importance of organization and the role of body language in giving a speech. She even helps them with their nervousness by telling them, "The trick is not to get rid of your butterflies but to have the butterflies fly in formation."
According to their evaluations of Reese's classes, students find topics such as "making eye contact," "how to write your presentation" and "gestures" to be extremely useful information that they can use in many ways throughout their lives.
"I see my role as assisting in the development of the teen," says Reese. "I want to help them develop further discipline. I want them to see the bigger picture."
For Reese, a devout Christian, that "bigger picture" is nothing less than God's individual plan for each student. It is her faith that ignites her passion for teaching.
"I tell my students that their confidence is in God, that He can help them in all things," she says.
According to Reese, students need to be good stewards of their God-given talents. To this end, she urges each of them to remember and practice what she calls the "4 Ps" of public speaking: "Pray," "Prepare," "Practice," and "Present."
Reese has been a corporate consultant with Dior for 20 years, and while she says her she has always enjoyed her work, she began about 10 years ago to feel a desire to "give back to the faith-based community."
An opportunity to do so came when a friend, Debbie Rossi, suggested that Reese offer her public speaking workshops to a group of homeschooled kids. According to Reese, Rossi said, "I'll find the students if you'll agree to teach them."
Reese enthusiastically agreed, and since that time, over 200 homeschooled students have benefited from her expertise.
For such an opportunity Reese is humbly grateful. Of her students she says, "I hope they see Christ in me. I hope they will have God be a part of who they are."