Mr. Gillane, a History teacher at West Springfield High School, has been nominated for the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award. This program awards educators throughout Western Massachusetts annually for their outstanding work, in hopes to continue to motivate and inspire teachers in all aspects of their careers and lives. Among a few other nominees in the district, Mr. Gillane has been honored with the prestigious title for his inspirational teaching and his ability to turn his classroom into a fun and hard working environment for all.
After working in the music industry and running a business for seventeen years, Mr. Gillane earned his bachelor’s degree at Syracuse University and later acquired a masters degree in history at Westfield State. He confided, “I was very unhappy with life in business, simply thinking about profit and loss, etc. I really wanted more out of life. So, I went back to school at 40 years old in order to change careers.” Mr. Gillanes’ search and success in finding happiness in his career is an inspiration to students as we stress about what we want to do for the rest of our lives.
As Mr. Gillane wraps up his fifteenth year of teaching at the high school, he is proud of his choice and continues to enjoy being an educator. “I love being a teacher… No one day is ever exactly the same as another. I am especially lucky to be working with the teachers in the History Department. We help each other, depend on each other, and are really more like a family. I know it sounds corny, but teaching is the chance to make a difference every day… Everyone can and should do that for each other–teaching allows me to do that,” he stated.
There are many monumental moments in everyone’s lives, but especially educators. Teachers are able to bring life to their students and motivate them in more ways than one. Whether it be big or small, something that is said or done in the classroom will impact students positively and encourage them to be the best they can be. Mr. Gillane revealed, “ I love when I hear from former students that they are doing well, enjoying life, and moving forward in ways that are important to them. It really isn’t the monetary or social successes that are important in life. If you can say that you are doing what you enjoy, are happy, and are treating others right, making a difference, then what more do you really need? I am really psyched when my students can say that.”
As the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award is given to one aspiring individual at the high school annually, it really is something to be proud of. Mr. Gillane is known throughout West Springfield High School for his laughter, hard work, and his ability to put a smile on anyone’s face. He concluded, “it really is a great honor. It caught me by surprise, mainly because there are so many teachers here that I look up to. West Side is a great place to teach… I feel very fortunate to have been here so long, and I look forward to a lot more years to come- I do what I love for a living, and now I have received a prestigious award recognizing my efforts–that means a lot! However, this award belongs to all of the teachers here, especially this year!!!” Mr. Gillane’s admirable personality and desire to move both his students and peers are some of the many reasons West Springfield High School is such a great place. He is always there and ready to help students and faculty, he dedicates his time to making sure his students are comfortable and eager to learn, and he creates an exciting and refreshing environment wherever he goes- several students graduate from WSHS and look back on their lasting memories they have shared. Congratulations, Mr. Gillane!