The 2014-15 school year wound to a close for teaching staff on Friday, June 26, capped off by a visit from New York’s 2015 Teacher of the Year Charles Giglio and his certified therapy dog, Tanner.
Mr. G, as his students call him, has been teaching Latin to grades 8-12 in neighboring Gloversville for the past nine years, coming out of retirement in 2006. He started his career 50 years ago as a fifth grade teacher in Manhattan, after his 1964 graduation from Catholic University with a degree in Latin and Greek. He recounted that his first year of teaching had been rough, as he wasn’t accustomed to children that young. A teacher in the next classroom offered him assistance, he said, adding that 20% of teachers leave the profession during their first year and 25% within their first five years.
“To be a teacher,” he said, “you must suffer. With suffering comes illumination.” He noted that teachers need patience and passion, two words whose Latin root is to suffer.
Giglio talked about his wife Pat, daughter Annie, son Tommy and granddaughter Mia. He said a search for the right schools and teachers to address his daughter’s special needs is what eventually led them upstate. Giglio also credited physical education and lacrosse with illuminating his son, who he indicated did not like school as a teenager. He said that his son now holds two Master’s degrees and serves as a Principal and Director of ESL and Refugee Services in the Albany City School District.
He shared stories about the transformation of past students he continues to keep in touch with, and recounted his recent trip to the White House with other Teachers of the Year from across the country, including Shanna Peeples, the National Teacher of the Year.
“Teachers can be one of the most important persons in a student’s life,’ said Giglio. “They are warriors of hope in a world that’s kind of crazy.” He added that teachers must inspire, with the word spire meaning to breathe. “Breathing life into beings is what we do with our kids,” he said.