The class of 2018 and all who graduated four decades ago remember Reg Gathman, beloved sixth grade art teacher who left the Academy in 2012. Although he has retired from teaching, that hasn’t stopped him from continuing art and painting. Currently, he is a part of  to the Rio Grande Art Association and the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico. “I’ve been entering in shows, and I have a group where we go out every Wednesday and paint out in the field,” Gathman said about his retirement. “Having the time to do my artwork is very nice. I didn’t do a whole lot of art actively during the school year, so I had to do my artwork in the summer. Now, I can do it all year round.”

Students taught by Mr. Gathman remember his peregrine falcon, Phoenix. “I’ve got another falcon named Paladin. Along with a friend of mine, we fly the falcons in the fall, usually every day.” Along with being able to spend more time with his family, his artwork, and his falcons, he also enjoys being able to travel more. “This past summer, we spent three weeks in Ireland,” he said.

“My favorite part about being at the Academy was just working with the kids – having kids in the classroom, watching them solve all the problems. Of course, I learned a lot from the kids,” Gathman said, recalling his years at the school. “I worked at the Academy for 42 years, so I grew in an immense way. When I first started teaching, I thought, as a lot of new teachers do, that I knew so much.”  

Even though Gathman met thousands of sixth graders, all different and unique, they all taught him the same lesson – that communication is the most important teaching skill. “What I found [later] is that as a teacher, you have to listen to the students. They tell you what they need to know. With students, you can’t force things. That’s what I tried to do over the years in my program. I tried to teach students how to solve the problem, how to come away feeling very proud over things they didn’t think they could do before. I was always learning things from my students. That was the biggest thing.”

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