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Accolades abound for long-time St. Teresa educational assistant heading into retirement

Ken Gallipeau speaks during a celebration last week of his retirement from St. Teresa school in Elmira. [Bill Atwood]

In what was perhaps the greatest testament to the level of influence Ken Gallipeau had over his 30 years as an educational assistant, one of his former students turned colleagues was there to help celebrate his retirement from St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Elementary School last week.

“Mr. G touched the lives of so many people over the past 30 years. And with some of you today…you’ll remember him in 30-40-50-60 years. If Mr. G hadn’t been there for the last 30 years, the Waterloo Catholic board would not have been the same place and it will not be the same place going forward without him,” teacher Scott Zimmerman told students at the celebration June 10.

“In 50 or 60 years when all of us here are looking back on our elementary school days, we will all remember Mr. G and we will remember him fondly. All the St. Pats (G’s former school) kids do. And all of us here at St. Teresa will do the same. From the very bottom of my heart thank you from all of your students, and all of your co-workers for every amazing thing that you have done,” Zimmerman said.

While Gallipeau said it is time to move into retirement, it was nonetheless a day full of emotion.

“Especially when parents were coming through, those that had been kids here years ago came by to visit, that was really nice to see,” he said,

Principal Amy Flynn said Gallipeau has helped in many different ways during his time at the school.

“There are lots of you that he has helped out with either language or math; sometimes we just need some quiet space and quiet time to sit. He’ll come and sit with us and lend us a helping hand,” Flynn said

“Mr. G, thank you for all the wonderful things that you do for us and it has made the school a better place because you’ve been here,” she said.

Teacher Anita Santa Rosa met Gallipeau when she was starting her career and working as a supply teacher for the school board.

“I recall him taking me aside to let me know that if I needed any support throughout the day, he wasn’t far off. I hadn’t had that experience at any other school. It was Mr. G who created that strong sense of community wherever he went including here at St. Teresa,”she said.

Santa Rosa and Gallipeau also worked in the same classroom for five years at St. Teresa.

“He’d always add to the learning of the lesson, we always learned something new from Mr. G,” she said.

Gallipeau is an influential member of the community, Santa Rosa added.

“He’s done lots just for the community in Elmira. He’s pretty much a fixture in the community. He’s just a faith-filled man and he just has love for the kids,” she said.

Gallipeau started the position when his daughter was a student, and now has a grandson at the school.

“It’s come full circle. I’ve had a great career. I’ve had awesome students and an awesome staff. The time with Waterloo Catholic has been great. And I’ve never had a day where I said, ‘well, I don’t want to come to work today.’ It’s been special,” he said.

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