Teachers Terry Caldwell, Tom Goepel and Gary Gatfield retire; students recall fond memories

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Science teacher Gary Gatfield, history teacher Thomas Goepel and English teacher Terry Caldwell all retire after a combined 139 years of teaching at Loyola High School. The recent retirement of these renowned teachers has sparked memories of many students who had them as teachers.

Gatfield has taught a wide range of courses, from Oceanography to Physics 12. During his time at Loyola, Gatfield often spent a week leading seniors on their Kairos retreats. Gatfield, well-known for his passion for the sciences, inspired many Loyola students to study and share in his love for science. 

Aidan Khare ‘20 said, “Gary Gatfield was one of the kindest and most down to earth teachers I’ve had at Loyola. The aquarium project and experiments [in Oceanography class]were always a bright spot in my day.”

Aman Johnson ‘20 added, “There was never a dull moment in Oceanography. Mr. Gatfield always knew how to make us laugh. It was one of my favorite classes.”

Ian Kolesnikow ‘20 said, “Mr. Gatfield’s Oceanography class was one of my favorite classes I had at Loyola; decorating my fish tank, grieving dead fish with my partners, and learning the basics of Big Blue all made for a great time. Mr. Gatfield’s enthusiasm for the sea may only be challenged by Poseidon himself. I will never forget the fond memories I made in Oceanography with my classmates and Mr. Gatfield.”

Liam Landon ‘20 reflected, “I walked into Mr. Gatfield’s class a young, impressionable scientist and emerged a full fledged oceanographer. From engaging labs to interesting lectures, Mr. Gatfield’s Oceanography class was an incredible experience that taught me just how amazing the oceans can be. A great teacher, and an even greater man, Mr. Gatfield was one of the most memorable and remarkable teachers I have had the privilege of learning from.”

Goepel taught many history courses at Loyola High School over the course of 46 years and made a lasting impression on many of his students. His classroom provided an environment that challenged and inspired. Among the courses he taught were AP U.S. History and AP European History. Assigning personalized nicknames to each of his students, Goepel instilled unforgettable memories that his students continue to reminisce about.

Senior Cameron Kuritani recalls, “Mr. Goepel would refer to every student by their nick-name throughout the entire school year, showing the personal connection he formed with each and every one of his students. Each day in class was memorable, whether it be the joking call for the 40-hour workday, the insistence on golf being the utmost superior sport, or his comedic commentary about American history. Infamous for his 2-page papers, Mr. Goepel pushed every student to be the best student they could be, jokingly stressing a lack of effort would result in a ‘loose deuce’ on the AP test.”

Goepel created a unique bond between himself and his students. He had the mindset of putting his students’ well-being before schoolwork and made sure his students all had a balanced workload.

Kuritani continues, “Not only was Mr. Goepel a fantastic teacher whose students always tested extremely well on the AP test, but also he was a caring man who loved to teach. AP US History was truly an educational experience that I have never had [before]and I believe will never have again, and I am forever grateful for Mr. Goepel.”

Caldwell taught at Loyola High School for 46 years. He is well known by the Loyola community for his rigorous yet insightful English courses. Caldwell also served as a debate coach, an El Camino moderator and a Windowpanes moderator. Some fond memories of Caldwell include his infamous phrases such as “Woefully inadequate” and “Time will pass, but will you?”

After having Caldwell for both English I and Honors English II, junior Dane Utley said, “Despite all the mental hardships, Caldwell really shaped me into the student I am today with his study and organization tactics and advice especially. I will also carry with me a mental toughness that only Caldwell could have given me. Caldwell played an essential role in getting kids into a Loyola mind and shaping their work ethics. He will truly be missed by everyone.”

Sometimes referred to as the “Hellraiser,” Caldwell was known for his intricate lectures that left many students with a deeper understanding of the work presented. From answering questions on Puritan writings to discussing the literary devices used in Romantic literature, Caldwell’s English students were always working.

Junior Brennan Calderon recalled, “I remember a time in class where we were reading ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ and no one could answer one of his questions. He went from person to person asking for an answer and was repeatedly met with the wrong one, becoming more upset with each failed attempt. The string of answers became so long that he even threatened to grade our homework for correctness rather than completion. When it was my turn to answer, I got the question right and ended our class losing streak (however, I only derived that answer from 15 minutes filled with frantic page-turning and learning what the answer wasn’t from my braver classmates). Those 15 minutes of fear were unpleasant, but they really caused me to engage with the literature and learn it on a higher level.”

The Loyola community will most definitely miss Gatfield, Goepel and Caldwell. The legacy they leave behind is unforgettable, and Loyola has been forever enhanced and defined by their work.

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