By: Alex Duh
After teaching for three years both in the classroom and on the field, Mr. Garland departed Gilman to teach and coach at Detroit County Day School. Mr. Garland began his teaching career at Mater Dei School in Bethesda, Maryland, teaching there for five years before moving to Minnesota to work for Mr. Joe Seivold (‘82), a graduate of Gilman. He then moved back to Maryland, explaining, “My wife and I decided to return to Maryland in order to be closer to our families.” Mr. Garland spent two years teaching at St. Paul’s before coming to Gilman, where he taught both 9th grade World Cultures and 11th grade US History. In addition to his history classes, he was a faculty advisor for Model UN and coached both flag football, fresh/soph basketball and lacrosse.
Mr. Garland began teaching out of interest to explore with his students “the unknown unknowns-every class has the opportunity to put us in a position to be uncomfortable. We’ve discussed controversial topics in my courses that have made my students feel something.” His decision to become a teacher stemmed from his own experiences as a student, saying “I was fortunate to have a lot of great teachers in my life.” He especially enjoyed being able to have an interactive atmosphere with the Gilman students, explaining that “We [got] to talk to each other a lot more; that wasn’t the case when I was a student.” Mr. Garland’s dedication and enthusiasm toward his classes was evident: as he remarked, “I never took any days off - I was as energetic on day one as I was on my last day.”
Mr. Garland was well-liked by many Gilman students. Zachary Dixon (‘19), a student in his US History class, says that “Mr. Garland was one of my favorite teachers. To this day, [he] is considered a friend. We talk about family, sports, and share a whole bunch of laughs together.” He believes that Mr. Garland brought something truly unique to his classes, explaining, “I just loved how passionate he was about what he taught. I was never interested in History, but the way he got up and spoke with so much energy just made me interested. I had the utmost respect for him because he truly cared.” Noah Spore (‘21), who took his World Cultures class, adds, “Mr. Garland was capable of producing a wonderful energy in the classroom that not only encouraged learning but often made one really want to get to know the material he provided.”
Aside from his passion for teaching, Gilman students praised his engaging teaching style and the way he challenged them. As Jed Brummett (‘19), who took his US History class said, “What I loved about Mr. Garland was his encouragement of rational thought. Whether you agreed with him or not, he wanted each person in his class to find their voice and speak up about what they think is right and wrong. He didn’t want people learning history from any one perspective, but all perspectives, and letting his students make their own deductions. He challenged me in a way that goes beyond Gilman and into everyday life.“ Spore agrees, commenting, “He pushed us to look at the situations in the world that we were learning more personally and therefore more meaningfully and memorably.”
Gilman will be losing a thoughtful and energetic teacher and coach this year with the departure of Mr. Garland. Brummets remarks, “[Mr. Garland] leaving deeply saddens me - the world needs more teachers like Mr. Garland.” Mr. Garland adds, “The decision to leave Gilman wasn’t an easy one. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the classroom, being an advisor to a great group of kids, and serving as Coach Dawson’s assistant on the fresh/soph hoops team.” Mr. Garland expressed, “If I’m to leave the student body with some advice it would be this - audit your life. Make more time for your friends and family, spend less time on your phone and playing games, and make your school a better place.”