He wondered how was he ever going to grasp these theories, concepts and equations.
Fortunately, Victor’s teacher, Ann Gartner, also understood how intimidating physics can be to students.
She regularly helped struggling students by sketching concepts on notebook paper or tutoring them after school or during breaks.
“She went out of her way to help me understand how gravity affects bodies in motion and how centrifugal force works,” Victor recalled. “She knew how to explain physics to students so that they could understand it and succeed in class. She tried to teach in a very visual manner, not just with textbooks. She believed in drawing things on paper to help students understand.”
Gartner died on Friday, Nov. 7, apparently from complications of a blood clot.
Her funeral will be held at 2 p.m. today (Wednesday) at First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Bill Duke and the Rev. Vivian Woods officiating. Interment will follow at Beeville Memorial Park.
Gartner, 47, was the daughter of longtime Beeville schoolteachers Wayne Reagan and Jonnie Sneed Jordan.
She graduated from A.C. Jones High School and earned a chemical engineering degree from Rice University in 1983.
She worked for DuPont at the Savannah River Project — a nuclear materials processing center in South Carolina — and for Hoechst Celanese — a supplier of high-tech fibers, among which there are liquid crystal polymer fibers — in South Carolina.
But those who were close to her said she longed to share her passion for science with others, and so she returned to South Texas to share her knowledge with local high school students.
She taught in the science department at Skidmore-Tynan High School from 1994 to 2002. Since 1996, she had taught part-time in the Education Service Center Region 2 alternative certification program in Corpus Christi.
She received her master’s degree in education technology from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
In the fall of 2002, she became a physics and chemistry teacher at A.C. Jones High School.
“She was a diamond in the teaching staff of A.C. Jones,” said Nancy Jones, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at BISD.
“She had a background in engineering and, after a career in engineering, had later decided to serve the community and follow in her parents’ footsteps by going into teaching. She was incredibly intelligent, and was able not only to reach the top students, but was also able to work and help struggling students.”
Jones said Gartner used a variety of strategies, such as technology, to reach students struggling to grasp equations, concepts and theories.
“The Education Service Center, Region 2, in Corpus Christi, called on her frequently to work with teachers to show strategies for meeting the needs of struggling students and special education students,” Jones recalled. “She will be sorely missed. There was nothing I ever asked of her that she did not do immediately and well.”
Roland Adame, who oversees the high school’s theater arts program, said Gartner was highly intelligent and a nationally recognized scientist who could have made a lucrative living in the scientific community but who chose to teach instead.
“She had a brilliant mind and could have had a brilliant career in science but she wanted to teach,” he said. “She thought she could better serve (humanity) as a teacher.”
Gartner received the Exxon Texas Regional Science Collaboratives Excellence Award in 1999. In 2004 she was one of three finalists for the Technology Teacher of the Year from the Texas Computer Education Association.
One of her proudest accomplishments, however, was when she was named the Beeville Independent School District Teacher of the Year in 2005.
Adame credited Gartner with the high school’s success in UIL academic competition.
“When she took over the UIL program (at A.C. Jones High), she said she wanted to make it one of the best in the state, and she accomplished that goal,” he recalled. “She grew the UIL program so that now we regularly have 50 or 60 students competing each year. Because of Ann, (JHS) can compete with school districts like Gregory-Portland and bring home awards.”
Co-worker Louanne LeBourveau agreed Gartner helped make A.C. Jones’ UIL program a force to be reckoned with, and said she “gave that demanding job her typical high energy level, too.”
“I was always impressed with her dedication and enthusiasm,” LeBourveau recalled. “She seemed to work tirelessly with her own students, and then take on other students for tutorial help. She was definitely a teacher who had her students’ best interests at heart.”
Former student Oscar Garza can attest to that.
“I competed on the science team, under her direction, and we found much success throughout my time at A.C. Jones,” he said. “She was a fierce competitor who cared, before anything or anyone else, about her students and their well-being.”
He said he will always remember Gartner “as a great woman, who expected nothing but the best from her students and would go out of her way to help in any way possible.”
Victor Hinojosa said Gartner demanded the best from her students if she was going to give them her time and effort.
“She expected everything to be done perfectly, to be done the way she showed us,” he remembered. “And she demanded we turn the assignments in on time. If we didn’t, we would get a zero. She said she was preparing us for life after high school. She said she was preparing us for college. She said we wouldn’t be able to ask for an extension in college if we didn’t have the assignment completed.”
LeBourveau said Gartner created a school web site which helped students stay updated on homework and upcoming assignments and other responsibilities.
“She did as much as any teacher I know to help students be successful and work to reach their potential,” LeBourveau said. “Her contributions to our school and community will be missed tremendously.”
JHS junior John Garza can attest to that.
“She didn’t mind helping us out if we had problems,” he said. “Miss Gartner was always taking time to tutor us one-on-one.”
John said Gartner injected levity into her physics classes.
“She was very funny; she always made us laugh,” he said. “She wasn’t one of those teachers who stood at a blackboard and lectured and put their students to sleep.”
Co-worker Jo Huffman also recalled Gartner’s sense of humor and her fascination with science fiction, particularly the television show “Star Trek.”
“She had a wonderful sense of humor and was the one person I could talk about science fiction with,” she said.
JHS Principal Joe Reyes said Gartner’s commitment to education went beyond her eight-hour workday. He said she dedicated herself to helping students pass the TAKS exam.
“She had this smooth way of communicating her instruction and at the same time having great results,” he recalled. “She was rare with discipline referrals as she worked things out with her students.”
Outside of school, Gartner was a member of First United Methodist Church in Beeville, served as a member of the board of the FUMC Beeville Foundation Inc., a team teacher with her mother in the Stuart Wofford Friendship Sunday School Class and director of the FUMC Handbell Choir.
“Ann was my inspiration,” Huffman said. “I can only strive to be as dedicated and brilliant teacher as she was. I have never seen a teacher so organized and ready to teach.”