Beloved Physical Education Teacher Saying Goodbye
SISTERSVILLE – Physical Education Teacher Charlene Galluzo is retiring after more than three decades of serving on the front lines of education. She has a warm demeanor and there is a smile on her lips, but underneath there is a controlled and disciplined soul as befits a veteran coach who has guided generations of student athletes in Tyler County schools.
“The thing I enjoy most about teaching is seeing the joy on a child’s face when he/she performs a skill, task or gets a new concept for the first time.” said Galluzzo, a teacher at Sistersville Elementary, who will be retiring at the end of the school year. “It warms my heart to see the excitement that child experiences when he/she realizes, ‘I can do this!’ Seeing my students’ enjoyment as they move and learn is the greatest gift a physical education teacher can receive. I try to make every day an adventure in my classroom for my students.”
Superintendent Robin Daquilante had kind words for this teacher who has challenged students to soar and out of the gymnasium.
“Mrs. Galluzzo is a champion for student fitness and wellness and healthy schools,” she said. “She has been instrumental in providing opportunities for our students and their families to participate together in fitness activities in our schools.”
Galluzzo graduated from Slippery Rock State College in 1978 with a bachelor of science degree in physical education. She earned her master of science degree in physical education in 1985 from West Virginia University. During Galluzzo’s career long career in Tyler County, she has coached volleyball, softball, girls basketball and track at the high schools. When Galluzzo was coaching softball, she was honored as West Virginia Coach of the Year in 2007. That same year, the National Federation of Coaches named Galluzzo as Sectional Coach of the Year and later as a finalist. The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference recognized her softball coaching acumen in 2008.
Galluzzo’s 38-year career as an educator has highs and lows. Among the high points, Galluzzo was selected as the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Midwest District Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2010. She said it was a huge honor to represent Sistersville Elementary School, the West Virginia Association of Health, Physical Education and Dance and the AAHPERD Mid-West District as one of five finalists for AAHPERD National Elementary Teacher of the Year selection.
“I got to meet and work with outstanding educators from across the country attending a national conference in Indianapolis and presenting at a national conference in San Diego,” she said. “It was a humbling and rewarding experience and validated my choice of a career as a physical educator.”
Galluzzo said a low point of her career ended up being a blessing in disguise. In 2000, Galluzzo was served with a Reduction-in-Force notice after having taught high school physical education for 22 years.
“It was tough to swallow that all my dedication meant little when it came to a dollars and cents decision. However, I relied on my faith to carry my through a difficult transition,” she said. “The truth be told, I really wanted to teach elementary school out of college, but landed a high school teaching and coaching position instead. I have no regrets, as this new role opened doors for me that I would have never passed through without the change in venue.”
Galluzzo said the kindergarten (Susan Cline and Linda Yoho) and first grade (Emily Kupferer, Michele Burkhart and Jan Miller) teams at Sistersville Elementary School made her transition a seamless one. Her fellow specialists music teacher Fran Fluharty and librarian Dee Cool – provided her with insight into my role at the school.
“I really love teaching at the elementary level, because I can see the impact I have on my students learning every day,” Galluzzo said.
Looking back over her long career as to whether she would choose being a teacher, Galluzzo said she would do same thing all over again. Galluzzo said she did not earn a million dollars in my lifetime, but her reward comes in seeing the children become responsible adults who contribute in a positive way to society, as parents, leaders and various professions.
“If we turned back the clock, I would still choose to be a teacher,” she said. “It is the most rewarding profession on the planet.”
And the days as a teacher are never the same.
“I like that no two days are ever the same in the classroom,” she said. “In education, learning is a lifelong project, which presents the challenge of adapting to the changes in technology and educational trends that drive instruction.”
Galluzzo said she thinks that her work meant something to others.
“I hope that I am making a difference,” she said. “I try to teach by example and be kind and consistent in how I treat my students and colleagues. My personal mantra is “to get one step better every day.” I use this to encourage children to set goals and monitor their progress in reaching these goals. After 38 years in the gym, I am leaving knowing I have done everything I set out to do. My students have had fun learning, are more fit and have mastered basic skills to enable them to live a healthier lifestyle.”
Like an army on the march in the field, time defines each and every school day. As soon as one school bell rings, another bell ends classes as time marches on. Galluzzo said she will spend her retirement catching up to time. And China may be in the cards for this veteran.
“My whole career has been based on a clock,” she said. “When I retire, I plan to spend more time with my family, spend some quality time with my mom in Pennsylvania, head to the gym, catch up on some home projects, create new memories with friends and family, read some good books, do a little writing, continue to officiate volleyball and travel a bit. My brother keeps asking me to visit him in China. I guess that means I will need to apply for my passport. I do plan to do some substitute teaching in the fall, because I know I will miss the kids. While I don’t have a specific plan mapped out, I’m sure I will find something to keep me busy.”