Tuition aid helped shape life for Father Ryan teacher, coach

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Jeremy Darvin, a 2016 graduate of Father Ryan High School, returns to his alma mater this year as a full-time substitute teacher, a mathematics assistant with the Academic Support Program, as well as coach for the football and wrestling teams. Darvin’s education at Father Ryan was made possible because of tuition assistance his family received. The same kind of assistance comes through the Advancement of Catholic Education (ACE) Endowment, which helps hundreds of families around the Diocese of Nashville who want a Catholic education for their children. The ACE Awards Event, to support the fund, is 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, in Bishops Hall at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville. For more information, visit Photos by Katie Peterson

Jeremy Darvin is one of the newest faculty members at Father Ryan High School this year, serving as a full-time substitute teacher, and mathematics assistant with the Academic Support Program, as well as coaching football and wrestling.

But it’s just the latest chapter in his journey with Father Ryan, a journey that might not have been possible had it not been for the tuition assistance his family received. The same kind of assistance comes through the Advancement of Catholic Education (ACE) Endowment, which helps hundreds of families around the Diocese of Nashville who want a Catholic education for their children.

The seventh annual ACE Awards Event will be an opportunity to contribute to this important fund. The event, which will return to being in-person following two years being virtual, is from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville. This year’s goal is to raise $250,000 for the endowment fund, which has been in place for 30 years.

Darvin first came to Father Ryan as a freshman in the fall of 2012 after spending his elementary and middle school years at area public schools.

Going to Father Ryan “was honestly one of the best things to happen for me in my life,” Darvin said. “I was always a great student, and my mother pushed and challenged me as much as she could. I had never received below a C prior to Father Ryan. She did not allow it.

“Although school was always easy to me because I always focused, paid attention and was a bright kid, Father Ryan provided me with a way bigger challenge academically. It was a more detailed curriculum, better teachers, and most importantly a community that not only wanted smart students but cared for our overall well-being,” he said. “My peers helped push me more in the classroom. Here, I had a bunch more peers at my level of academic understanding and was around kids who aspired to learn. This helped set a more positive and competitive academic environment.”

Even though Darvin was not Catholic, he appreciated having that aspect of his high school experience as well.

Darvin leads team members through defensive drills during football practice Tuesday, Aug. 16, at the practice field.

Discussing religion in school “was extremely new to me, but I absolutely loved it. When you hear theology, you just think it’s talking about God, Mary and Jesus. However, it is so much deeper than that. We also learn about loving one another, community and service. These are just a few of the things that really opened my eyes to my ‘why’ in life,” Darvin said. “Even though I wasn’t Catholic myself, the Catholic education was able to develop me spiritually and open a lens in life that may have been hard to develop as a teenager on my own. I really do credit that, of me learning my purpose in life, it helped set the foundation.”

And it wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for him receiving tuition support.

Receiving the support “meant a lot to both me and my mother. It felt great knowing that even though we weren’t set up in the best situation financially, I was still able to attend school with no worries,” Darvin said. “There were tons of people willing to help. It also took a huge burden off my mom who was a single mother of three at the time.

“It’s stressful enough raising three children, and at the time, we were all in different schools,” he explained. “Having this assistance relieved some stress … and it also allowed me to strictly focus on receiving a good education and ways to be the best student I could.”

Upon graduating from Father Ryan in 2016, Darvin went on to sign a full athletic scholarship with Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, playing football as a student-athlete for the next six years. In the end, he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Secondary Education (Mathematics) in 2020, and then a master’s degree in athletic administration and coaching in 2022.

“Father Ryan more than prepared me for college academically, and I thank my teachers every day for pushing me in high school because college was almost easier,” Darvin said.

Following graduation, when it came down to figuring out where he wanted to be, he said, it wasn’t hard to find the answer.

“I always knew that I wanted to coach football after I finished playing. While at college, I kept flipping between coaching high school or college,” Darvin explained. “While at Western Kentucky, I had teammates that severely struggled academically because they were not properly prepared in school beforehand.

“There were some of my teammates who never had to write a paper during their entire school tenure, there were other guys who never had homework, and lastly, there were some guys who had people do their work for them. The reason they received this special treatment was because they were gifted athletically,” he continued. “Father Ryan did not allow me to fall in these categories, and I cannot thank them enough for that. To show my appreciation for the dedication to academics, I decided to come back and keep the student-athlete tradition alive here, ensuring that kids, no matter their background or athletic skill level, are prepared for success in college.

“This is my first job out of college, and I would not want to start anywhere else,” Darvin said. “It’s wonderful that I get to connect and develop these young men both in school and sports.”

Darvin, along with Pope John Paul II Preparatory School 2022 grads Kate Barber and Stephen Strickland, and their stories of the importance of being able to receive a Catholic education, are just a few of the things attendees of the ACE Awards Event will experience. The evening will also include remarks from Bishop J. Mark Spalding and Dr. Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of schools, and be emcee’d by Marty Blair, ACE committee member.

Jeremy Darvin’s journey at Father Ryan, which started with help from tuition assistance, is continuing as he begins a teaching career at his alma mater this year.

Additionally, dinner will be catered by Clean Plate Club, and the Brentwood Beer and Wine Festival, a regular contributor of ACE, will host a Craft Beer and Wine Pull during the evening.

The event will also include several award presentations including the announcement of the Christ the Teacher Award, the Largest Percentage Increase Enrollment Award, the Innovation in STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Math) Award, and the Exemplary in Leadership Award, which highlights the working relationship between a principal and pastor of a church.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information, visit Individuals or organizations can be a sponsor by donating anywhere between $1,000 to $25,000.  

Thus far, nearly $60,000 of the $200,000 goal has been raised. Event sponsors include: Nita and Mike Shea – Presenting Sponsor; Patty and John Bolger; Betty Lou and Jim Burnett; Elizabeth and Lloyd Crockett; Sally and Ed Stack; Athens Distribution; Ancient Order of Hibernians – Sons of Erin Division; Pinnacle Bank; Radian Partners; SMS Holdings; Taylor, Pique, Marchetti, and Blair PLLC; Brentwood Beer and Wine Festival; St. Edward Church and School; St. Joseph Church and School; and St. Ann Church and School.

To donate to ACE or purchase tickets for the event, which are $125 per person or $1,000 for a table of eight, visit  

“ACE allows students, such as myself, a shot at a top-of-the-line education,” Darvin said. “Not only that, but here at Father Ryan, I was able to develop lifelong friendships and relations that I may have never got to experience if it was not for ACE, and not just peers but from teachers and coaches as well.”

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