When Mike Gallina became the superintendent of North Canton City Schools, the title of “superintendent” lasted a short 90 seconds.
“After that, it’s a relationship,” he said. “And I’ve so appreciated the relationship that North Canton has had with its schools.”
Gallina — who’s been known to attend all the district’s important sporting events and banquets, and take the time to know the students, staff and parents — is bidding the district a farewell this month as he completes his eighth year as superintendent of North Canton City Schools. He begins a new position with the AultCare Health Network as the new director of outreach and organizational development starting in August.
, assistant superintendent at Parma City Schools.
Gallina, whose last day with the district is June 30, took the time to talk to North Canton Patch as superintendent one last time. Below he speaks about his years with the district, what he loves about the community and what changes are coming his way.
KEEPING TIES IN THE COMMUNITY
Gallina is quick to assure the North Canton community that he won’t be a stranger once he starts his new position. He said he’ll keep his seat on the boards he serves on, which include the , North Canton Area Chamber of Commerce, Advisory Committee and the city’s Traffic and Pedestrian Committee.
He said it was important to him as superintendent to play an active role not only in the school district but the community, and it’s the character of North Canton residents that made him take such pride in the city.
“I love the value that North Canton community and Stark County places around human spirit,” Gallina said. “They’ll take a challenge in this area, and instead of bemoaning the fact that it’s a challenge, folks will say, ‘How are we going to attack this?’ They’ll stare it right in the eye and say, ‘Let’s plan.’’
He said he’s constantly impressed with how people use their talents to make something better of a bad situation. He pointed to the Hoover Company, which shut down in 2008, taking with it 2,400 jobs and 23 percent of the city’s revenue.
Gallina said the city could have given up and become a ghost town that so many other industrial communities have become. Instead, people rallied. City council, the North Canton Area Chamber of Commerce and community interest groups came together to bring jobs and vitality to the city.
AN EARLY START IN EDUCATION
Gallina knew before college (before high school and junior high, even) what his life’s calling was.
“I knew in the sixth grade I was going to be a teacher — the sixth grade!” Gallina said from inside his office recently.
He said he was inspired by two teachers who were not only great teachers but great role models, too. Not to mention, Gallina’s father was a teacher.
“So I had seen that lifestyle. I had grown up around teaching families. But when I had that sixth-grade experience, it became very clear to me that what I had been feeling about it locked into a real solid vision. And from that point forward, I was going to be a teacher — a teacher and a coach.”
It was during his freshman year of college that he settled on elementary and special needs areas of education. He said he liked the idea of being able to shape students at a young age.
“I enjoyed the dynamic of having that impact early, so then that independence and maturity would bear some fruit based upon the early opportunity to impact that.”
He’s also coached football and basketball at Minerva High School. But, when it comes to his own athletics, Gallina is a baseball guy, having played at the University of Mount Union and earning a spot as a team captain his senior year.
“Here’s why I never coached baseball: because I was still playing all the time. And I still play. So I reserve baseball to be my time to play, and I didn’t coach it.”
When Gallina isn’t playing baseball, you can find at sporting events and spending time with his family (wife Lynnette, son Kiel and daughter-in-law Jessie).
Gallina expects that with his new job at AultCare, he may have more time to spend with his family.
“We’re going to be grandparents in the fall, and that was part of the opportunity finding me when it did,” Gallina said. He added that he was unsure what the retirement system would be like in the near future and he looked forward to the new opportunity to grow a program from scratch. “Those things lined up in the critical spots in the decision making.”
ON LEADING, MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Gallina said he got much of his leadership skills from his parents, Bob and Carol Gallina. His mom passed away at the age of 40 from cancer when he was a senior in high school, and her leadership style has always stuck with him.
“I remember her leadership as a mom with six kids,” said Gallina, the oldest of all six. “She figured it out. She figured out how to lead with love and care and still have order.”
Meanwhile, his dad offered strength in a time of adversity.
Gallina said it’s been an honor, a joy and a privilege to lead at North Canton City Schools, and, when asked what words he would leave the district with, he said this:
“The way to the head is through the heart. Anything that’s worth doing is worth connecting to spiritually.”
“I believe North Canton is a special place because there’s good spirit here. People work at things,” Gallina said. “So if I would share one thing with the people of North Canton, it would be to keep that spirit that makes this community so special.”