PJ Farrell doesn’t fit into a box. The Holy Name High School theology teacher combines a deep reverence for his Catholic faith with a passion for what’s next. As such, he also teaches computer science and oversees the school’s powerhouse esports program. (Holy Name’s Rainbow Six Siege team won three High School Esports League national tournaments last year.) Whether in class or in front of a PlayStation 4, Farrell’s diverse interests allow him to find common ground with students of all stripes. Entering his ninth year at Holy Name, he has spent his career with one foot in traditions and the other on the cutting edge.
I try to look at the bigger picture of life, which has God incorporated in everything. God makes a lot of sense. Theology makes a lot of sense. Technology works the same way, too.
In computing, you work step by step in a progressive order to accomplish your tasks. And, in life, you also have to do things in a certain way to achieve happiness and joy. I think technology and theology go together quite well.
Holy Name is family oriented. The people I work with are just off-the-charts incredible.
I've really enjoyed learning learning about this new generation of kids.
My biggest goal is to make learning fun. I want my students to remember this time 15 or 20 years from now. There's so much pressure on them. I try to get them to not be so focused on the ACT or getting into this or that specific college. They will be incredible wherever they go. Take a step back and enjoy where you are.
I use a program called Classcraft. Students create avatars and earn “experience points” for reading the assigned Bible passage each morning. They have the app on their phones and get special rewards to use it in class. It's kind of goofy and fun, but also really motivating for them.
Top Level Gaming in Middleburg Heights contacted us about starting an esports program. I put out a few announcements and 50 kids showed up for the first meeting. The majority of them weren’t involved in anything else at the school. What a cool opportunity for these students to be a part of something, to be part of a team.
There's a huge difference between playing video games and competing in esports. You have to take care of your mind and body.