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Meet One of CNM’s Most Beloved Instructors

Phelan Gavaldon, who teaches in the School of Applied Technologies, was recently recognized for his commitment to education and community service
Meet One of CNM’s Most Beloved Instructors
Phelan works with students at CNM.

May 25, 2018

When you see Phelan Gavaldon teach a class in CNM's electrical trades program, it’s immediately clear why he’s one of the college's most well-liked instructors. His passion for electrical work immediately comes through as he patiently but enthusiastically explains to students the best way to get a job done. Students stand there rapt, soaking in his advice and inspired to put it to use.

As you might expect, Phelan, who’s also the chair of the construction cluster in Applied Technologies, has been recognized several times for his commitment to education. His most recent award came earlier this spring when the New Mexico Association for Career and Technical Education (NMACTE) gave him the Outstanding Teacher in Community Service Award at their 2018 conference.

The community service component is in reference to the various ways in which Phelan has given his students real-world experience by helping them volunteer with local organizations. For example, over the past six years, Phelan and his students have donated approximately 20,000 hours to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter on 30 house builds across the city. Phelan also helps trade students participate in the SkillsUSA competitions, and has taken students to community projects like the housing rebuilds that took place in Ruidoso after the Little Bear fire swept through.  

“I like to get students into the community because it really helps them turn the light bulb on—pun very much intended—when they get to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom in a real-world setting,” Phelan says.

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It's easy to see why Phelan has become one of CNM's most respected instructors.

Phelan has been in the electrical trades since 2000, has been a journeyman electrician for the past 12 years, and now owns his own electrical company called PSG Electric. Electrical work started as a job, but became a career when he saw how well it could pay and how many jobs there are for well-qualified electricians.

He started teaching after a local apprenticeship program asked him to fill in, and has been teaching at CNM since he was 29. He says he’s inspired to help students land good jobs because he knows from personal experience how the trade can set someone up for success.

“Even here in New Mexico where the rates aren’t the best for electricians, students can still get a job that pays $60,000 to start,” he says.

He also just loves being in the classroom, whether that's at CNM or in a Habitat for Humanity house, passing along his knowledge.

“Here’s how I put it: I like contracting and electrical work, but I love teaching,” he says.