By Holly Penta
Ray Gandy believes that every child can learn. Some just learn at different rates. At St. Mary’s Catholic School, where he teaches math and social studies to middle school students, Gandy does anything he can to help his students succeed. He makes sure that all his students, no matter their skill in the subject, get the chance to learn. Although he does teach in the traditional style, he also includes hands on activities, small group work, after school tutoring, and more inside his classroom. He caters to all learning styles, so that even if a student doesn’t initially understand the material, they will be exposed to the material in new ways. This helps students experience “lightbulb” moments, when they finally understand what is being taught.
Gandy strives to encourage each student, and to help them reach their full potential. He credits the teachers he had when he was younger with inspiring him to pursue a career in education. For 30 years Gandy has worked in education as a teacher, an assistant principal, and as a principal. As a principal, he felt he didn’t get enough time to truly impact student lives since he oversaw everyone in the school. This caused him to return to teaching. Teaching is his passion, and he is glad to be back in the classroom teaching, impacting and changing lives.
Gandy clearly loves his students. “My students become my ‘kids’ for life when they come through my room,” he said. His philosophy revolves around building relationships with his students. He suggests anyone who wants to become a teacher should create good relationships with the students, while balancing it with being stern with them when needed. This mutual respect will help make the students want to succeed for themselves and for their teacher.
Gandy has taken many groups of students on school trips to New York City, the District of Columbia, and New Orleans. Having been to these places before, he enjoys getting to see the locations through their young eyes. Many of the kids would never have gotten to see and experience some of the sights they visit, and Gandy and the other chaperons find it extremely rewarding to see their amazement and excitement.
Gandy is married to Dawn and together they have two children. Kara is a senior at Northwestern State University and Evan is a senior at St. Mary’s. Gandy’s finally words of advice to future teachers are to, “put it all in God’s hand and let Him have control and everything will work out according to His plan.”