Editor's note: The following is a letter written by Nancy Bundy, North Canton City Schools Board of Education member, to Mike Gallina, superintendent of North Canton City Schools. Bundy read the letter to Gallina at this week's school board meeting inside the Media Center.
North Canton Patch heard from viewers like Julie Mathie-Cross, and Board President Nancy Marion, that the heartfelt goodbye was emotional for many in the room that night.
Gallina had and take a position with AultCare Health Network as the director of outreach and organizational development.
I served on the school board from 2000 through 2011. When Superintendent Tom Shoup retired in 2004, we were worried. His were big shoes to fill and while our excellent academic rating seemed secure, our finances were not. The Hoover Company’s slow demise in North Canton was eating away at our financial security and we had just gone through a horrible ordeal with a treasurer who embezzled a large sum of money (not Todd Tolson!). Our approval rating was not exactly stellar in all areas of the community. So we needed to find a new superintendent to help us meet our challenges. Enter Mike Gallina. A ball of energy and ability who left a community that he loved and where he was beloved to take on North Canton. And he took us by storm.
He suddenly was in all the classrooms, he visited all the staff, went to at least one game or match in every sport, every concert, and every production of any kind, rode every bus, ate lunch in every lunchroom. And we all said “how nice….he’s getting to know the school system…he certainly can’t keep this up” But he DID and he remembered students and parents names and sent cards and notes of congratulations or to offer support or sympathy, sometimes long after graduation, and he high fived anyone and everyone he encountered. And then he took his enthusiasm to the streets of North Canton where he joined various community groups and organizations and a church and passed two levies during a time where most communities weren’t able to and as I like to say….he tattooed the Viking head on his chest and was proud to display it to all. And no matter where I went, I encountered people who said…. "the best thing you’ve done as a board member is hire Mike Gallina.”
I read a couple of editorials last week that said that our society is getting meaner. Mean and nasty rantings on Facebook pages and emails and blogs make it almost impossible to take the high road and act civilized and classy in a world of bullies. But Mike Gallina sets an example otherwise. He is exactly what he appears to be. Always. His positive attitude and sense of fun is contagious. He is genuinely passionate about education and compassionate and caring with the students. He listens to anyone who wants to talk to him and is thoughtful with his comments and advice. In the seven years that I served on the board with Mike as Superintendent, I cannot recall a single instance where he took credit for anything. Not our excellent ratings, not our awards, not our grants, not our outstanding programs or our successful levy campaigns. Not even when he won the Superintendent of the Year Award for the State of Ohio. He is always quick to acknowledge the individual or group he thinks is responsible for anything good that happens. Teachers, administrators, the board, the parents, the coaches, the students. He has been, without a doubt, our biggest cheerleader. I have heard him on many occasions say that he is blessed and humbled to serve such an excellent group of students, staff and community, but I believe that we are the lucky ones to have had him continue to set and reach the standards of excellence that we expect in North Canton.
Don’t think for a minute, Mike, that you won’t be missed tremendously by the thousands of students and parents and staff members that you have touched over the years. Don’t think for a second that you haven’t had an enormous positive impact on this school system and this community. And please do not ever forget that we will always cherish and treasure the time you gave us.
You often joke about your small stature, usually standing next to me. But you truly are a giant among men. Thank you, Mike, for everything that you have done.