Gavin Lawrence Gladding lived life to the fullest. He was an exceptional educator and administrator; a best friend to many; and an incredible son, brother, uncle, husband and father. He was a man of strong character who demonstrated passion, dedication, authenticity, and kindness in all facets of his life.
Gavin was born in Houston Texas on May 13, 1975 to parents Gary Gladding and Rita (DiBella) Gladding, completing their family of four with older sister Gabrielle (Gladding) Ruby. He and his family moved quite a bit in his early years from Houston to St. Louis to Columbus before arriving and settling down in Fresno, CA in 1983. He spent the next 10 years of his young life in Fresno, graduating from Bullard High School in 1993. Gavin was accepted to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies in 1998.
After graduating from UCSB, Gavin with his adventuress and generous spirit volunteered with the Peace Corps where he spent two years in The Gambia, West Africa. “Abdouraxman” or “Abdu” was his given Gambian name and for two years he lived and worked in a remote village with no running water or electricity. He spent his time teaching the villagers about the western methods of bee keeping and other various forms of agriculture, but he equally learned a lot about himself and other cultures during this time. He learned a new language, Wolof, and created lifelong friendships that continued to bring decades of adventure and fulfillment to his life.
Upon returning from the Peace Corps Gavin received his California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and began student teaching while he settled back in to life in the United States. His deep passion for education began in 2001 when he accepted a teaching position at the Blue Ridge Outdoor Education Center in the mountains of Toccoa, Georgia. Gavin had a passion for the outdoors his entire life and this program and educational setting developed and formed the basis for his love of experiential education. Gavin understood that by creating a relatable, enjoyable, hands-on environment for learning, his students would want to engage and ultimately learn more.
Gavin met his wife Susan during his time spent in Georgia. In 2003 they moved back to Fresno when Gavin accepted a position working at the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust. He worked at the Trust from 2003 to 2008 while he completed his single subject teaching credential. After receiving his credential he began his 14 year career with the Clovis Unified School District. He began teaching at Alta Sierra Middle School in 2005 and in 2011 accepted the position as the Advanced Placement Environmental Science teacher at Clovis West. He remained at West until 2016 when he accepted the GIS position at Fort Washington Elementary School after receiving his Masters Degree in Administration from Fresno State. Gavin had a successful career in large part because of his ability to connect with his students. He inspired them. He was a tremendous speaker, engaging and relatable and to the students he was more than a teacher/administrator, he was a mentor.
Beyond his degrees and professional accomplishments, Gavin's greatest joys and successes were as a husband and father. He has two children, Carter born in 2007 and Isla born in 2010. He put the relationships and the people that he loved above all else. Gavin loved the outdoors and spending time in nature. His hobbies were many but amongst his favorites were hiking, camping, birding, fishing and archery. He was always up for a new adventure, opportunity to learn, grow and experience all that life had to offer. Gavin Lawrence Gladding died on September 16, 2018, but his legacy will continue on in those he loved and in those who loved him.