Rector teacher retiring after 45 years

Thursday, May 3, 2012
Teresa Gatewood

After 45 years in the primary special education field, Theresa Bateman Gatewood of Rector will retire at the end of this school year.

Born and raised in Rector, Gatewood graduated from Rector High School in 1965 and less than three years later received her bachelor of special education degree from Arkansas State University (ASU). Approximately 18 years later, after raising her family, she returned to ASU to receive her master's in special education.

She went into the field of education because "I have always loved learning and teaching, even as a youngster," said Gatewood. "I tutored my peers in math while I was in school and also taught Sunday school for some time, so learning and teaching have just come naturally to me as far back as I can remember."

Spending her entire career in the Rector school system, she has particularly enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to help each child and the fact that, in her field, "no year is the same and no child is the same."

The variety of her work and the changing technology have helped motivate her all these years, which she says have made her field one that is "never boring."

Gatewood has certainly seen her share of changes in the field of teaching since the late 60's, particularly in the amount of required paperwork and increased demands on teachers, and, of course, the rise in technology available in the schools.

With the advent of I-pods, smart boards and document cameras, Gatewood feels that textbooks are quickly becoming obsolete, often becoming out of date even before they are printed.

The rising technology has begun making a difference in the field of special education, according to Gatewood.

"I see a huge difference in my students with these new technologies, particularly with their motivation levels and the development of their reasoning skills," she remarked.

During her long career, she thought of herself as a teacher who continually thought "outside the box" and incorporated all learning modes into her teaching.

Upon retirement, she plans more day trips in Arkansas with her husband, Garvin, as well as spending more family time with her son Kinley and his wife Tara, along with their children, Noah, Kennedy and Haley, who live in Jonesboro, as well as her other son, Jeremy, also of Jonesboro.

She also plans to spend more time with gardening, sewing, crafts and reading.

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