The Student News Site of Albuquerque Academy

The Advocate

The Student News Site of Albuquerque Academy

The Advocate

The Student News Site of Albuquerque Academy

The Advocate

Celebrating the Lydon Legacy

Thank you for all you have done for this community, Ms. Lydon!
Brighton Ludwig ’25
A selection of Ms. Lydon’s yearbook photos over the years.

Cathy Lydon, a beloved member of the Albuquerque Academy community for multiple generations, has announced her retirement after 48 years of teaching, with 40 spent at the Academy. Ms. Lydon takes a special position among all the inspiring educators at our school—she is a legend, known by every Academy student, faculty member, and generations of alumni. We commemorate her vast contributions to our school traditions and community by celebrating the Lydon Legacy.

Because of her constant presence in our community, some people might find it hard to believe that Ms. Lydon hasn’t only taught at this school. Many of you may be wondering how she became one of the most influential people in our school community. How did it all begin? Before working at the Academy, Ms. Lydon taught at schools in Southern California for eight years. When asked what brought her to Albuquerque, she told me about the Christmas she came to Taos to ski, when she “[thought she had] died and gone to heaven.” She soon called her friend from Albuquerque, who told her about the best school in town – Albuquerque Academy. She was the last teacher hired in the newly built middle school, which had recently begun accepting girls in grades 6-8. She recalls that it was a “brand new group of students, you know, boys and girls.”

The moment Ms. Lydon arrived at the Academy, she started to leave her mark on our community. From being the school nurse to cardboard boats in the pool, there is not a place in this school where you can’t find Ms. Lydon’s fingerprints. The first tradition she started was the 8th-grade celebration, which she introduced during her first year here. She told me: “Eighth graders in public school usually get a graduation, but they don’t get one here…. I thought this was sad. And so I started the eighth-grade celebration.” It was originally a formal dinner dance. Another contribution that represents Ms. Lydon’s immense care for students is when she became the school nurse. She recalls, “We had a big black lunch box with ace bandages and regular band-aids on it, but no nurse and I freaked out.” She asked for permission to take courses, and she soon became a licensed EMT and served as the school nurse for 13 years.

‘To this day, current students and alumni come back, they still remember … the dig and how important it was to them. Some of them became archaeologists!’

— Cathy Lydon

Her proudest accomplishment, however, is The Dig. Eighth graders studying ancient history get to experience the work of archeologists and the importance of historical artifacts. It is a milestone in every Academy student’s career, a day to remember for the rest of their lives. Ms. Lydon says: “To this day, current students and alumni come back, they still remember … the dig and how important it was to them. Some of them became archaeologists!”

Perhaps the most iconic tradition Ms. Lydon started is the Reynolds Regatta, an important part of the annual Community Day. When I asked her about the history of the cardboard boat contest, she explained that she had named it after Lou Reynolds, who worked at Albuquerque Academy when Ms. Lydon arrived here. When she retired after 30 years of teaching, she decided to move to teach at a South Korean school. Ms. Lydon kept in touch with her, and she learned that they held cardboard boat races in their swimming pool. The moment she heard this, she thought: “we have to do this. This is like the coolest thing!” The Reynold’s Regatta is a bonding experience for clubs and advisories, and its community-building aspect cannot be overstated. In other words – it’s a big splash!

Another of Ms. Lydon’s major accomplishments is serving as the director of foreign exchange programs at the Academy. She worked with the language department chair and set up year-long exchange study abroad programs such as ASSIST and SYA, as well as short-term exchanges to Mexico, France, Germany, and Russia. One of her motivations in teaching is exposing students to these opportunities so that they can “[have] an appreciation for other cultures.” All these traditions are integral to the community aspect of our school – among other things, these are the aspects that make Albuquerque Academy a truly magical place to spend our high school years. As an exchange student myself, I have been guided by Ms. Lydon throughout this year. With her care and dedication, she has helped my exchange year become an experience that has profoundly changed my life.

This is why I asked her about the most important things she wants her students to learn from her. She emphasized ‘Rigor, responsibility, and really good study skills.’

Very few students at this school don’t know Ms. Lydon – whether she taught them at some point or whether they are just members of the school community who attend any of the above-mentioned school programs. This is why I asked her about the most important things she wants her students to learn from her. She emphasized “Rigor, responsibility, and really good study skills.” As a history teacher, she is fond of ancient history but added: “It’s not just the subject. It’s how to learn and how to study and have an appreciation for other cultures.”

To get a student perspective on Ms. Lydon, I asked a current eighth grader about their opinion. They told me: “Ms. Lydon has done a really good job at inspiring me to speak out more in the class. I learned to be more confident in class, to do my work more thoroughly, and to fully commit to what I’m doing.” Of course, as with every good teacher, there are many rumors about Ms. Lydon. “Many people say that her work is very difficult – which is true: she pushes you to be a hard worker; you cannot slack off in the class.”

As a teacher, there are few more rewarding experiences than seeing your students pursue a career in teaching – not to mention the same subject you once taught them. This was the case for Elise Matton ’10, who was taught by Ms. Lydon for two years in a row and now teaches history at the Academy herself. Ms. Matton shared that she had Ms. Lydon for both 8th and 9th grade, and “those are such pivotal, formative parts of adolescence – I really think she shaped me quite a bit.” She recalls that it was these years when her love for history deepened, to the point where she decided to major in it in college. Ms. Matton recalls that as a part of their senior week, they were asked to write a letter to a teacher who had a special impact on them, and she chose Ms. Lydon. She recalls her graduation: “as I was walking on the stage to get my diploma, and she just gave me this little smile and a little wink. I knew then that even though she has this steely exterior, she cares so immensely about students, and she’s so excited to share in their successes.” Ms. Matton also explained how Ms. Lydon has shaped her style of teaching – from analyzing sources and research papers to successful collaboration, Ms. Lydon introduced several techniques that Ms. Matton uses in her classroom today. Finally, she said: “Ms. Lydon is in the very heart of this school … She’s an institutional force, and she has really left a legacy.”

Ms. Lydon is in the very heart of this school … She’s an institutional force, and she has really left a legacy.

— Elise Matton '10

Ms. Lydon has left a mark not only on her students but also on her fellow colleagues. As Ms. Crawford told me: “Cathy is the first friend I made when I came to work here” and “She’s been my best friend.” Ms. Crawford could not emphasize enough how important the Academy is to Ms. Lydon – “Cathy loves this school, and this has been her whole life since she’s been here.”

It is evident that Ms. Lydon has tremendously shaped this school – but how has the Academy shaped Ms. Lydon? She explained: “We have freedom in our classroom. Not a lot of places, allow that. […] We have independence in our classroom. And so that has kept me on track. It’s kept me learning. It’s kept me moving forward.” When asked what Albuquerque Academy means to her, she said that in addition to an excellent education for our students, learning how to deal with rigor and failure is a big component of it. In the name of Academy, she asks: “how do you pick yourself up from your bootstraps and carry on?”

As all good things, however, Ms. Lydon’s teaching career, too, has to come to an end. We wish her a joyful retirement full of learning and exploring, and we thank her for her immense care for Albuquerque Academy.

And finally, Ms. Lydon’s message to her students:
“Read with a pen. Listen with a pen. Make sure you use a pen except for math and art.”

View Comments (1)
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Brighton Ludwig ’25
Brighton Ludwig ’25, Photography, Video, and Social Media Editor
Brighton Ludwig ‘25 is the Albuquerque Academy Advocate's photography, video, and social media editor. He joined our staff last year as a staff photographer, and now works hard to develop the section as our first ever photo editor. When taking photos, he sticks with his beloved Lumix camera, and can often be found out playing tennis on our school’s varsity team, volunteering in the Dot Garden, singing in Bel Canto, or managing the Advocate’s instagram account.

Comments (1)

All The Advocate Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    Sheryl ClemmerMay 22, 2024 at 12:00 pm

    Cathy Lydon is one of a kind and we need more like her to keep our future bright and with fortitude on the changing world. She will be missed !