By Jen Bakken
It was in first grade that Amy (Ryan) Gallus first knew she wanted to become a teacher.
After graduating from Delano High School in 1988, she began her journey to make this dream come true.
Not only did Gallus reach her goal of becoming a teacher, but recently she was one of 12 teachers from across the United States to receive the 2009 NCEA (National Catholic Educational Association) Distinguished Teacher Award from the Department of Elementary Schools of the National Catholic Educational Association.
Chosen from a group of more than 100,000 teachers, Gallus was honored, yet surprised.
“This award is a really huge honor for me,” Gallus said. “It is a confirmation to me that what I do matters, the seeds I plant in my students are blossoming, and it rejuvenates me to continue to work hard and be the best teacher I can be.”
While growing up in Loretto with her five siblings, the family, including her parents, Jim and Delores Ryan, attended services at Saints Peter and Paul in Loretto.
During high school and college, Gallus worked in the office of Randy’s Sanitation in Delano.
Earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of St. Thomas in 1992, Gallus eventually received her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in 2003.
For seven years, she was the sixth grade homeroom teacher and middle school math teacher for the Academy of Saints Peter and Paul in Loretto.
For the past 14 years, Gallus has lived in Norwood Young America with her husband, Steve, and their three children, Josh, Zac, and Ben.
While her husband works as a diesel mechanic at North Central International in Glencoe, she is the middle school math teacher and assistant principal for Guardian Angels Catholic School in Chaska.
“I switched schools to Guardian Angels in the fall of 2001,” she said. “I also started and run the middle school service club, advise the school’s yearbook, manage the school store, and am our building’s standardized testing coordinator.”
The United States is divided into 12 different districts for the NCEA. Each year, one teacher from each district is chosen to receive the distinguished teacher of the year award.
Each applicant fills out an application, which is submitted to the district representative. The applications are then forwarded to one of the other 11 representatives. It is their job to create a reading committee, and all applications from that district are read by the committee and ranked by the readers.
“After our Advent Prayer Service, my principal, Nancy Ronhovde, went up to the microphone and started to read a letter from the NCEA,” she remembered. “I did not know about it before it happened. I was totally surprised. They arranged for some local Chaska dignitaries to be in attendance to present me with a bouquet of flowers.”
Gallus has just completed her coursework for a principal’s k-12 license, and hopes to eventually move to a full-time administration position. She is very happy teaching, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and being a mom. She admits being an educator is hard work.
“But when that light bulb finally goes off for a student that had been struggling with a concept, there is no greater feeling for me,” she said. “I love being a middle school teacher, and when my students go off to high school and I hear about their successes; whether it be in the classroom, on stage, or on the court, it lets me know that I had a part in preparing them for the life, and that’s a big reward.”