Community mourns loss of beloved Clovis educator

The loss of Gavin Gladding was felt throughout the Clovis Unified School District community. PHOTO COURTESY OF ABC30

As a young boy, Clovis resident Izaak Shipp went to camp and found a camp counselor that would change his life forever. The kids at the camp only knew the counselor as Gavin, but his name was Gavin Gladding.

Shipp remembers how everybody at the camp looked up to Gladding.

“Everybody loved him at the camp,” Shipp said. “He was just a great person to be around.”

When Shipp became a senior at Clovis West High School, he crossed paths with Gladding again. That’s when Gladding became Shipp’s AP Environmental Science teacher.

“He actually remembered me,” Shipp said.

For Shipp, it was the perfect time to reunite with Gladding.

“I was struggling in school because of mental health issues,” Shipp said. “[Gladding] said, ‘You’re a bright kid. You can do a lot better than this.’”

Shipp is now part of a community that’s devastated by the loss of Gladding, who died on Sept. 16 after being struck by a truck while jogging. On Friday, Sept. 21, Shipp joined dozens of community members who gathered at Fort Washington Elementary School to remember the life of Gladding.

“Mr. Gladding was one of the most genuine individuals that one can meet,” Fort Washington principal Melanie Hashimoto said. “He always carried a warm smile on his face. He reached out to greet anyone with a ‘hello, how are you?’”

Before his death, Gladding was working as a vice principal at Fort Washington. He also served in many other capacities at the school.

“He was the morning greeter when the students arrived at school, he supported teachers in their classroom,” Hashimoto said. “He was the technology supporter who assisted whenever there was a need to troubleshoot computers.”

Gladding also managed school activities such as the school jogathon and Turkey Trot.

“Mr. Gladding was always kind hearted and showed much empathy,” Hashimoto said. ”He always found meaningful ways to help students change their behaviors. Mr. Gladding was the type of person who always found the good in every individual. He valued and modeled character.”

Shipp said he will always be grateful for how Gladding helped him overcome mental health issues.

“I’ve been doing better and better,” Shipp said. “I wish I could show him how I actually turned out.”

Tomas Kassahun
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