One injury changed everything


Photo Credit: Morgan Franz

Special Education teacher, Stacie Gallo, sits at the table as she grades her students’ papers. Before working at Glen Rock High school, she worked at a Child Development Center for seven years.

by Morgan Franz , Staff Writer

As the door to the classroom opens, students step inside as they listen to her. She helps them with the math problems. She is smart, kind, tough and funny.

Teacher Stacie Gallo has been working at Glen Rock High School for 18 years. This year Gallo is teaching Algebra I collaborative, two classes of collaborative Geometry, collaborative Algebra II, and Learning Strategies.

Although Gallo enjoys what she does it was different from what she was doing before she came to the High School. She originally wanted to be a child psychologist, not a teacher, but something tragic happened and it turned her whole life and plans around.

Gallo, a Psychology Major in college, took a job as a teacher’s aid her senior year at a Child Development Center for emotionally disturbed and autistic kids, but soon broke up a fight that changed everything, and that is how Gallo ended up becoming a teacher at Glen Rock High School.

A new student to her classroom named Scott who was a little guy in the corner of the room because he was a troublemaker, was sitting facing the wall, and a new student to her class named Frank, came behind him and sucker-punched him.

Since Scott had braces and Frank punched him in the face, blood was all over the room. “I was restraining Frank backwards and other kids open the door. I hit the door ending up severely injuring my neck and back. I didn’t know at the time. I picked him up and threw him out of the room. I thought there was something wrong and I went to the doctor and then didn’t work for two years after that.” Gallo said.

Gallo said, “So picture me standing behind someone having their arms crossed at their waste and you’re restraining them so they open the door, the door hits me in the middle of my back,  and I ended up with whiplash and herniating two disks in my lower back and then two in my neck.”

Due to this accident, Gallo was put in a wheelchair and didn’t know whether she would be able to walk and move around like she used to. She became frustrated because she had worked out everyday at the gym and played on a softball team. Now she could not do any of those things.

Everyday Gallo had spent hours with the kids teaching them a number of different classes such as cooking, math, science and gym. The children were not aloud to be in regular schools with kids due to their behavior. Since many of them had issues, Gallo had to have her eyes on them at all times.

All the kids who were at the Child Development Center had their own issues and a lot were physically and mentally abused. Gallo empathized with all of them and felt as though someone needed to take care of them because none of the children had an adult figure to help guide them.

“When they came into school from nine o’clock you were with them from nine to two thirty, you had lunch with them, you taught them everything.  In my class some kids could read some could not, so every level under the sun,” Gallo said.

Her job was challenging. Each day kids would come into class with black eyes. Since the weapon of choice at home was often an electrical cord, according to Gallo, many kids would come in with whip marks. Others had cigarette burns. Girls were sexually abused by their fathers, some coming to class pregnant by their dads, and the boys were pimped out by the parents in order to get drugs.

Many of these children that Gallo taught had bad home lives.  “I’m definitely not a racist person, never have been I’m open to everyone,” Gallo said. “But for those kids, I was probably the whitest white girl they have ever seen. “I would get called ‘white devil’ because that’s what their parents called people.”

Trusting  her was hard for the students due to uncertainty at their homes. The turnover for teachers was high at this school. A bunch of kids would act violently towards the teachers because they were not taught how to act, and the teachers would soon quit.

Gallo experienced so many things while teaching at the Child Development Center.

“One of my kids stabbed me with scissors, another came in with a gun and another kid brought in 1,500 dollars of crack in his mittens, and his brother was dealing,” Gallo said.

Hours went by quickly due to this.

“I was there for seven years and I loved those kids,” Gallo said. “As I got them to sit in their chairs, they trust you.”

Teaching at Glen Rock is by far much different from what it was like at Gallo’s former school. In Glen Rock, if someone called her a name or do something bad, she call that person out on it because she does not tolerate that type of behavior.

“Coming into Glen Rock I was shell shocked,” Gallo said.

Since she started teaching here she has experienced many behaviors that come with the different students.

“The problems stay the same but the kids change.” Gallo said. “Except I think social media exasperates all the problems because now instead of going up to someones face to start a fight they just do it through social media.”

She never thought that she would end up teaching here let alone teaching teenagers in general.

“In life sometimes you think your going one way and you take a right turn and just embrace what you are given,” Gallo said.