Let Your Art Shine Through: Meet Mr. Catbagan

Some of us love to doodle and get messy with art. Others of us have to work at finding our inner artist. With art teacher Mr. Nate Catbagan to guide us however, art is always approachable and fun. Mr. Catbagan (or, Mr. C!) has been with New Millennium Secondary School (NMSS) for four years and loves his role as the Visual Arts, Digital Media and Yearbook Teacher. We asked him about a few of his favorite things, art and otherwise.

What do you love about NMSS? What sets it apart from other schools?

There are several things that I love about my role here at NMSS. One of the main things is connecting with students and hearing about their stories and interests in life. There are many parts of life that I can relate to with students and I feel like that’s a big part of how I’m able to work so well with students. Establishing those connections and speaking to them about their ideas and goals especially if it relates to art and design is really cool. And just the fact that many students have amazing talent and skills when they produce art and design work is what inspires me as well.

When did you know you wanted to be an educator?

There were several family members, friends, and co-workers who encouraged me after college to enter the field of education. I worked in several day and afterschool programs that had a teaching aspect to it and figured that becoming a teacher could be a good opportunity for myself. I also came to the realization that sharing my own knowledge, skills and experiences with others in art/design would be a great way to serve the communities I would be in. I enjoy helping people explore their creative side even if they feel like it’s not there. A big part of my objective as an educator is to bring out the best in others and help them connect to the arts in ways they haven’t before.

How does NMSS align with your personal values?

There are many parts of NMSS’s mission and vision that align with my own values. One of those is personalization. I think here at our school we do our best to ensure that every student’s educational needs are met at their level and even challenging them at the same time. Many of the teachers have so much experience and talent that help students be engaged and successful in different ways. I like that each teacher brings something unique to the school aside from their own subject matter they teach. I think that they also have great life experiences that students can learn from as well. 

One of the best ways I like to engage with students is building strong relationships. Every student has things going on in their lives that we may not be fully aware of so as a teacher I try to make sure that I have a good understanding of where they are coming from. And with that, if students are going through high emotions or there is something that is stressing them out, I try to speak to them about it. If they need time to talk it out or need a break, I try to allow that so they can get back to being engaged in the class. I know it can be hard to focus or concentrate when there’s other things on your mind, so if I notice students that are really going through a situation I try to see what I can do to help them get back on track.

Speaking of engaging, tell us about your epic lip sync battle at NMSS- nice touch using the trampoline to catapult yourself into the crowd, not to mention throwing a Warriors jersey over the classic teacher white oxford shirt…what did you sing?

“Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys! With the popularity of singing contest shows and even just music, many NMSS teachers and students get into character battling each other with great music. I personally enjoy anything music related and go to a lot of concerts, so participating and seeing my colleagues and students be part of this event is also a great joy. Many of the students get excited and cheer each other on and the energy is just right.

It sounds like music is a big part of your life, what do you like? What gets you out of a funk or inspires you?

One of my favorite things to do is go to concerts and that’s the great thing about living here, so much live music is happening so I have to pick and choose which ones to go to. Recently I saw a couple of my favorite bands, The Story So Far and Nothing, Nowhere. 

I think at one point when I took the end of the year Spotify round up about what music I listen to the most, the two categories were chaos and chill! I try to stay open to different types of music, but a couple of my favorite bands at the moment are Turnstile, Skegss, Emotional Oranges, Keem, Snarls, and Inclination.

One final, very important question for the NMSS community: How do you like your chicken nuggets: Wendy’s or Chik-fil-A?

I would say both are really tasty in my opinion. Right now though, Chik-fil-A nuggets sound pretty good so I’m going to say Chik-fil-A!

Mr. Catbagan is a great example of our NMSS community: a fun, engaging teacher who inspires his students at our vibrant, tuition-free public high school serving grades 9-12. Enrolling now for Fall 2022! Call us at 310-999-6162 and talk to one of our friendly staff, or fill out an application and join our Warrior team!

About NMSS

The New Millennium Secondary School (NMSS) is a charter high school in Gardena, CA committed to preparing students to become life-long learners and dynamic leaders in the competitive 21st century.  NMSS was created to address the rising global competitive environment for talent. Our students enjoy a small school education with big school sports and accredited community college classes. Enroll your student today.