Kiel Gallina got a big surprise in August when he found out from the Ohio Department of Education that he was selected as the 2018 Teacher of the Year for District 8.

Gallina, an intervention specialist at the middle school, knew he was nominated by a parent of a student in Lake Local Schools and he completed the required application, but he still was surprised to have been selected.

Lake Middle School Principal Brian Reed said that Gallina "creates a positive atmosphere in his classroom."

"I believe he was selected as District 8 Teacher of the Year for a number of reasons such as his obvious devotion to his students," Reed said. "Using innovation and creativity in his teaching helps him ensure that all of his students learn. He uses software, online resources, decorates his room to be inviting to his students and collaborates with other teachers all in efforts to reach his students," he said.

Reed said teachers and staff are thrilled to have one of their own selected. He also said the selection of Gallina is a reflection of the teaching staff at Lake Middle School and the entire district. Reed said the teaching environment is one of collaboration and helping each other with tools and techniques to help students be successful learners.

The Ohio Department of Education invited school districts across Ohio to nominate teachers for the District 8 award. State Board of Education member Nancy Hollister worked with a committee of educators, parents and business leaders to select the Gallina as the Teacher of the Year.

Hollister issued a published statement about Gallina, "Mr. Gallina is a tremendous role model who is constantly searching for new methods of instruction and learning tools to better engage and equip his students for their learning. We are proud to recognize him for his compassion, creativity and passion for his students."

Gallina, who is in his 10th year of teaching and his third year at Lake Middle School, said his job as an intervention specialist is to help each student with needs or accommodations be successful in each subject matter. He analyzes content and each student’s learning needs to come up with a formula to make sure the two components work together.

"I help create a bridge for my students to succeed in a general classroom," Gallina said.

 "My basketball coach in middle school taught special education classes. I was always in his classroom working as an aide. While I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, working with the kids in my coach’s class solidified what I wanted to teach. Plus, the progress made over the past 10 years in this area is encouraging," Gallina added.

Gallina’s father was a principal and while growing up, he went to his father’s office every Sunday pretending to work while he was with his dad. Gallina sat at a desk and worked on improving his coloring skills or other elementary level activities. Being with his dad on those Sunday mornings helped him become comfortable in a classroom.

"The impact a teacher has on his or her students is so rewarding," Gallina said. "Every time I get a graduation invitation, I realize the impact my teaching has had my students’ lives. I can teach content all day long but what really matters is how I make my students feel and how I can encourage them to want to do something and do it well."

The support system at Lake Local Schools is something that Gallina believes has been central to his success. He attributes being awarded Teacher of the Year to having a supportive administration, teaching staff, parents and the students’ willingness to learn.

His personal support system is important. His wife is also a teacher and he said his mother is the most caring person he’s ever met.

"I have many blessings and many thanks to give for being able to have my family and to work with problem solvers and collaborators in the Lake Local district. The parents continually send me positive notes and I want them to know how much I appreciate them and that I reread those notes often," Gallina said.