Goettel’s retirement at MHS means he can devote full time to pottery
MEEKER | Meeker students celebrated the last day of school May 27.
But at the same time, the end of this school year marked the end of an era, as Andy Goettel, longtime art teacher at Meeker High School, retired.
“It is kind of bittersweet,” Goettel said. “There are parts of it I will sure miss. I sure enjoy the teaching, and I enjoy the kids.”
However, he plans to do something he hasn’t been able to do for the past 34 years he’s been teaching — devote himself year-round to creating his own art.
“I’ve built a studio (at his home). I hope to get into my pottery work full time,” Goettel said.
He stayed on as a teacher until he and wife Susan’s only child, Gabie, graduated. She was a member of the 2010 MHS senior class.
As a teacher, Goettel enjoyed teaching all kinds of art, and as an artist, he enjoys doing all kinds of art.
But if he had a favorite medium, it would be pottery.
“That’s why I’ve enjoyed teaching so much. You get to play with everything,” he said. “But clay is, for me, my favorite, because it can manipulated into about any shape. It’s a really flexible medium, and I like it a lot.”
At MHS, Goettel was able to incorporate his love of art into his love of teaching.
“Andy is one of the few artists who has been able to be a really good teacher and an artist in his own right. That speaks volumes,” said fellow artist Pat Daggett. “He’s a very, very good artist and he’s a wonderful teacher, and he’s a pretty humble guy.”
Another local artist, Pete Kiser, added, “Andy is an artist in every sense of the meaning and enhances the lives of each student in his classroom.”
Not only has he been an artist and a teacher, but he’s also been a coach.
“I’ve coached a bunch of different stuff,” Goettel said. “I’ve coached basketball for quite a few years, but mostly I’ve coached track.”
Track is in his blood. He ran track in high school and college.
“I enjoyed competing, and I enjoyed the coaching, too,” he said.
Goettel was the track coach at MHS, where he spent the past 15 years of his career.
“We’ve really enjoyed Meeker,” said Goettel, whose wife is on the administrative staff with the school district. “I’ve enjoyed all my positions (at other schools), but Meeker has been great. We raised our daughter here. It’s just a neat place for families, and people sure care about kids.”
At MHS, art was not required. It was an elective course.
“They need some electives for these kids. (Art) has been a pretty popular course. I’d probably have about 100 kids go through here a day,” Goettel said. “All of my classes were a mixture of freshmen through seniors. It really worked well. I just of grouped them together in the room. The younger kids learn a lot from the older kids.”
MHS senior Cameron Glasscock, co-valedictorian of the 2010 class, was inspired by taking art.
“Mr. Goettel changed my life because he opened an entirely new world up to me through not only teaching how to create art, but how to appreciate it as well,” Glasscock said. “You look at the world in completely new ways, and find yourself turning the beautiful scenery around Meeker into oil paintings in your head, because the colors have good balance or the contrast is just perfect. He also builds self esteem by showing people potential in a field they might have overlooked and shows people how they can be creative in ways they never imagined.
“It doesn’t hurt that he himself is a master — I mean literally, he has a master’s in ceramics — and the works he whips out in five minutes are absolutely amazing. Despite his humble nature, he leads by the example of showing us what good art looks like and the steps he takes to get there, and helps us develop our own steps into the art world.”
Another senior, Kara Hollenbeck, said Goettel’s passion for art inspired her as well.
“I have had the opportunity to have Mr. Goettel as my art teacher for the past two years. It has been such a joy to work with him. His gentle and positive attitude really allowed me to discover my own artistic ability and to really believe in myself,” Hollenbeck said. “Mr. Goettel is not only an amazing artist, but a great teacher, who is very knowledgeable and passionate about his students and work. His relaxed approach really allows students to pursue their own topics … making art a more personal experience. He will be sorely missed, but I have been blessed to have him.”
Members of the Meeker School Board recognized Goettel at a meeting April 20.
“Andy, your contributions to this community, we can’t begin to thank you enough … you can see it in every art student at the school. That’s a huge tribute to you,” said Mary Strang, school board president. “There are just too many capacities to thank you for. You’ve made a huge difference to a lot of kids.”
In times of budget crises for school districts, art has sometimes been one of the programs eliminated for cost-saving reasons.
“In fact, that’s one reason why I had to leave Crowley County,” Goettel said. “They were in a budget crisis there. They didn’t want me to leave, but they wanted me to teach PE and reading, things I’m not comfortable doing.”
Goettel said he appreciated the Meeker School District’s commitment to offering art.
“I’ve always felt very well supported here,” he said. “The art trips overseas, or taking kids to portfolio reviews, or me going to art conferences.”
Even though he retired from the school district. Goettel plans to continue teaching art.
“I have a lot of adults who have asked about taking classes and we’ve been talking about doing some sort of artist-in-residence thing in the elementary school, trying to get something going, just a volunteer thing,” he said.
While Goettel is looking forward to being able to do his art full time now, he said the idea of being retired will take some getting used to.
“It does feel a little bizarre,” he said. “I was just so busy (finishing up the school year), I hadn’t dwelt on it much. But we had five interviews (with his potential replacements) the other day. It was a little bizarre talking about yourself in the past tense.”