Future Reflections Summer 2000, Vol. 19 No. 2


  Teacher Recognition:
Mr. Gialanella—Not Just a History Teacher

by Serena Cucco

From the Editor: Usually, the teacher recognition letters we receive are from parents, and the teachers the letters extol are specialized teachers of the visually impaired. This letter is different. First, the author is Serena Cucco, a blind high school student from New Jersey who just completed her freshman year this past spring. And second, her accolades are for one of her regular high school teachers—not a Braille teacher or an orientation and mobility instructor. I’m frankly hoping that Serena’s letter starts a trend. I would love to get lots of letters from students about the wonderful teachers—regular and specialized—in their lives. Here, now, is Serena Cucco’s tribute to Mr. Gialanella:


Mr. Michael Gialanella has been teaching history at Madison High School for thirty-one years. Mr. Gialanella has made my first year of history at Madison High School very enjoyable.  His World History class has heightened my interest in international affairs such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. My class just finished trying to solve this difficult crisis. Students worked in pairs to find four possible solutions to one of the many issues involved in the crisis. We then had to figure out the advantages and disadvantages of each solution. Finally, we had to decide which solution was the best. The class realized that there was not a simple solution to this complex situation. We have done several interesting assignments like this one during the school year.

However, Mr. Gialanella is not just a teacher who makes history interesting. He is also a teacher who has compassion for his students, including those with disabilities. For example, I don’t have my history book in Braille this year. We do a lot of group work in our class that requires getting information from the book.  As a result, I have had to depend on other students to read to me. At the beginning of the year, I was extremely embarrassed about this since I was so used to being fully independent. I was also worried that my classmates would not always want to read to me. Although Mr. Gialanella probably wished that I were not so embarrassed, he followed my lead and was subtle when he asked a student to read to me. I am extremely grateful for his subtlety and understanding.

I am not the only student for whom Mr. Gialanella has shown compassion. He also made the first year of high school easier for a classmate with a reading disability.  One day, Mr. Gialanella had to read me a test since it had not been Brailled. “I’m reading for Serena.” He said to the learning disabled boy. “Would you like me to read for you, too?” The student accepted Mr. Gialanella’s offer appreciatively.

Mr. Gialanella—not just a history teacher, but a fine human being.


Recognition for Teachers
of the Visually Impaired


Has your son or daughter had an exceptional Braille teacher, early childhood specialist, orientation and mobility instructor, other specialized teacher, or regular classroom teacher? Would you like for him or her to receive public recognition for the difference he or she is making in your child’s education? Future Reflections will publish letters of recognition from parents, other caregivers, or blind students.

The letters should be one to three typewritten pages in length and include sufficient detail about the teacher and the circumstances to be of interest and inspiration to our readers. Please be sure to include: the name and address of the sender, the teacher’s name, the student’s name, the name of the school or school district, and any other pertinent details. Photographs, color or black and white (no slides, please), would be helpful. If you want the photograph returned, please include a self-addressed envelope. If you want multiple copies of the print issue should your letter be published, please indicate how many you want. We will send them to you free of charge.

Send your teacher recognition letter, other information as requested, and photos (if any) to: Future Reflections, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.