Cancer claims life of popular Fountain art teacher
Last updated 4/23/2020 at 10:22am
Genuine, passionate, excellent, fun.
Those are just some of the words people are using to describe Jimmy Garcia, a beloved teacher at Fountain Middle School who died of cancer last week.
Students and staff at Fountain Middle School are mourning Garcia's passing after his six-month battle with a form of stomach cancer came to an end. Garcia was in Scottsdale, Ariz., receiving treatment when he died, FMS Principal William Dallas said.
"The loss of Mr. Jimmy Garcia leaves Fountain Middle School and Fountain-Fort Carson School District with much sorrow," Dallas said. "Jimmy was one of the teachers at FMS that contributed greatly to the new and improved vision and culture that has sustained our school for the last four years. He believed in supporting all students, and by celebrating the artistic abilities of his students. Jimmy was an extremely kind, caring, and authentic individual who understood that students need art as a conduit for expressing themselves. He will be severely missed."
Garcia had been with the district for 14 years, teaching physical education, woodshop and art courses.
Dallas said Garcia was a gifted artist and avid mountain biker who had participated in many races around the country. He enjoyed time with his family, riding motorcycles, and he owned a tattoo shop in Colorado Springs.
He was diagnosed in October and had been on an extended leave-of-absence for treatments and to be with his family. He is survived by his wife, Katelyn, and daughter, Ada.
In January, while promoting a benefit basketball game in Garcia's honor, Fountain Head Boys Basketball Coach Paul Mileto told the Fountain Valley News that Garcia had been unable to work while undergoing numerous treatments; and despite insurance, his family has incurred many expenses that go along with treatment. Garcia had to get a lot of donated leave from other district employees to cover some of his absence from work, Mileto noted.
"He's well-known in the district," Mileto said. "A lot of my basketball players have had him as a teacher."
Dozens of people have left heartfelt comments on the school's Facebook post announcing Garcia's passing.
Numerous former students called him a "favorite" teacher.
"I had Mr. Garcia for gym when I went to FMS," said one FFC8 graduate. "He was my favorite middle school teacher. Even after his class I'd still talk to him about how things were going and how I could improve as an athlete. Not only did he help me improve as an athlete but also as a person."
One colleague at FMS said Garcia was "so much fun to work with," randomly entering his classroom, calling him a nerd, then leaving. "The kids thought it was hilarious."
Another co-worker said the best word to describe Garcia is genuine.
"He was one of the first people to be genuinely kind to me when I first came to FMS," the employee said. "I also had several students who stated he was their favorite teacher due to his partners in art program. He will be truly missed!"
Students needing support with Mr. Garcia's passing can email one of several counselors listed at https://www.ffc8.org/FMS, or text "Talk" to 38255 for immediate help 24/7.