Science Teacher Gains Fresh Perspective After Major Losses

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Shanelle Tavarez

Shanelle Tavarez

Damian Martinez, known as Mr. Martinez around the halls of Gaither High School, is the life of the party during passing period. However, it wasn’t until Martinez went through a year of loss that he decided to begin his journey down a brighter path.

Martinez was born in Oyster Bay, New York and was raised in Wantagh, New York.

Martinez grew up with the struggle of being overlooked. As a kid, he remembered having to fight to be heard. Individuals wouldn’t take into an account his input. 

“I really had to show them that I’m not someone to be glossed over,” said Martinez.

Growing up life was full of ups and downs for Martinez. Martinez explained what it was like to lose both his grandmothers within the time span of a year. Martinez’s childhood was so wrapped up in having both his grandmothers around for important events such as holidays and birthdays. Losing them had a toll on Martinez’s life. However, he was able to turn such an unfortunate event into something productive.

“I wound up learning as much as I could during that time, I was studying at USF, about death and dying. The physical process and the mental process of not only the people going through dying but the bystanders losing their loved one. It really opened my eyes to life and I feel like I came out of the experience as an even stronger person,” said Martinez. 

Martinez was able to gain a fresh, important view on life. He was able to start a career as a stronger person with a more positive attitude.

“I realized that life is way more than just sitting at home on my laptop. Life is out there in the world and you need to grab at it. You need to run after it,” said Martinez.

After Martinez studied at USF, he was notified that his professional teaching certification was finalized. Martinez said that this is one of his most successful moments because so much work and dedication was put into achieving this goal of being a professional teacher. 

“I don’t go around looking for validation often but that was a very validating thing,” said Martinez.

Aside from teaching, Martinez is also the co-sponsor of the Dungeons and Dragons club, or better known as D&D is a fantasy role-playing game set in an imaginary world based loosely on medieval myth. Martinez explains that the club has four campaigns or groups of people and they have a Dungeon Master(DM). The DM navigates or controls what’s happening in the fictional world they group has created. D&D gives kids a safe place to be themselves and express their creativity to one another.

Martinez has always seen himself as an educator at one point or another. 

His first job was at a Boy Scout camp at the age of 15. Martinez taught Scouts aquatic merit badges, which are awards earned by completing activities about aquatics. After that, he moved on to a music school and teaching guitar to others. Martinez taught music through college and then became a substitute towards the end of his degree at USF.

Now, Martinez is the well-known and loved forensic science teacher rocking out to music in the halls.