What a Ride

Gilmartin has an interesting background


Joleth Herrera, staff writer


William Gilmartin – better known as Mr. Gilmartin – teaches Latin, etymology, and AVID. He is the only Latin teacher at Ben Davis. He was born in New Jersey and then shortly moved to Manhattan in New York City. 

Education and teaching history

For his undergraduate education, Gilmartin went to Manhattan College and then the University of Michigan. He has taken classes at Hunter College as well as at IUPUI.

The original plan Gilmartin had was to major in psychology and classical studies. He has been teaching at Ben Davis since the 1979-1980 school year and he has also been teaching at Butler University since 1985 so about 37 years give or take.

If you make it at Ben Davis, you make it anywhere.

— Bill Gilmartin

Nearly 50 years at the same school sure is impressive, so how did Mr. Gilmartin stay here for so long? He felt very comfortable on the west side. He came from a very “ homogenous ” environment, back in Minnesota everyone was the same without any diversity or differences among themselves. Although Ben Davis used to be a suburban school many things have changed since then.  Gilmartin says that Ben Davis has experienced a great demographic switch. 

“If you make it at Ben Davis, you make it anywhere, ” Gilmartin said.


Memorable events throughout his years

Two major events were all the wars overseas and 9/11, these events were critical and the most memorable of all. Besides these worldwide events, some memorable changes around Ben Davis have been the MPA, AA Hall, and the NGC. All of these parts of the campus are pretty big as these new additions to the school get used every single day. The size, technology development, and diversity have definitely stuck with Mr. Gilmartin as he has taught three different generations. 


Technology and modernization

Gilmartin describes himself as old school, education without technology was comfortable to him. 

“I’m still in awe, I’m still in awe of the internet, I’m still in awe of Google, ” Gilmartin said.

Mr. Gilmartin agrees that technology is a positive, nowadays if a student needs to research something it is at the tip of their fingers. In movies, we always see how kids used to pass notes among each other whether it was to talk, pass homework, or just to have fun but Mr. Gilmartin got to experience this. His students would pass notes and at the end of class they’d say “write to me”. Hearing this from our teacher with the most seniority at Ben Davis almost feels surreal. When phones came into the classroom they became a hindrance to learning according to Gilmartin. Screen time takes away from our education especially at a school with such a variety of classes.

 “Change is inevitable, it is part of life there’s no reason why it should be different in a school environment than anywhere else, ” Gilmartin said.


Life lessons

Gilmartin has seen just about everything during his career, but he keeps his advice simple.

“Patience, I work with you, I work with teenagers. And I’ve learned that I have to meet students where they are in life, I can’t always assume that a student is going to understand life perspectives, I have to understand theirs. My perspectives are a life of experience and students haven’t had those experiences. If I think they’re going to understand where I’m coming from all the time that’s not going to work, I have to understand where they’re coming from. And I think that is an important lesson, always listen, always listen before you speak and try to understand the other person’s point of view, ” Gilmartin said.


Advice to students

“ Be open-minded, be prepared for change, be kind, ” Gilmartin said.

Mr. Gilmartin is loved by many, his peers would describe him as someone who listens and someone who loves teaching. Throughout his years here he made many friendships as a teacher and in the close net of foreign ( world ) languages. He plans to stay at BD for the time being. Keep his advice in mind, it could result to be true and very helpful to you on the journey of high school and the journey of life.