The distance between Marietta, Georgia and Athol, Idaho is 2,390 miles. Both the journey and the destination tell us a great deal about Athol Elementary teacher Amy Galloway, who has found a home—and a calling—in North Idaho.
“The best thing about being a teacher is the minute that a kid really understands something that we are working on,” she says. “Whether they are finally getting it or they are first being introduced to it, the light that comes into their eyes is just magical.” Galloway has seen those magical moments in the eyes of students in Georgia, Africa, Texas, and now Idaho.
Galloway grew up in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta and then graduated from Shorter University in Georgia. She then spent two years teaching English in the country of Guinea, located along the western shore of the African continent. “That was a great experience,” she says. “I was mostly teaching adults and college age students, and their ability to learn English led to better employment and positive changes in their lives.”
She returned to the United States and attended graduate school in Texas. It was there that the hand of fate steering her to Idaho first surfaced. A friend in Texas mentioned a job opening as the Director of Pre-School at the Noah’s Ark Learning Center—in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, of all places. Galloway was offered the position, and packed up all of her worldly possessions and headed to Idaho in 2002. “I knew very little about Idaho before I visited around Christmas time in 2001,” she notes. “I went cross country skiing and hiking in the snow. I was amazed at how people functioned in the snow, because in Atlanta everything shuts down with just the threat of a little bit of snow.”
The opportunity to steer the curriculum and to work with parents were the highlights of her four year stint as a pre-school director, and all the while she was working toward obtaining her teaching certificate. With that piece in place, Galloway landed a job teaching sixth grade in Wallace, driving over the mountain pass every day. When an opportunity arose in the Lakelands School District, she moved to her current position, teaching fifth grade at Athol Elementary.
Among the first things she did once she became a regular classroom teacher was to join the Idaho Education Association. Amy went to her first IEA Delegate Assembly in 2008 and has been back every year since. She also shared her experiences at this year’s NEA Representative Assembly in a blog for the IEA website. She is currently the secretary for her local association and has served as building representative for the last four years. In the Lakelands School District the local association has built a solid rapport with the district. “The board and the district leadership work well with our local,” Amy says. “We meet at least once a month and talk about issues, which may or may not be resolved, but the dialogue is beneficial.”
As the IEA and the state of Idaho strive to improve public education, Galloway has a wish list. More money (especially to help develop the Idaho Core Standards, a stronger voice for professional educators, and more opportunities to get legislators into classrooms to see what is really going on. “It is also great to see more teachers running for office,” she said. “That is one way that we can make a difference.”