SARASOTA (WWSB) - ABC7 is teaming up with Gettel Automotive to celebrate teachers in our community – we’re calling them “Chalkboard Champions.”
We ask the community to nominate a teacher and then we select two winners for Sarasota and Manatee county each month.
We head to Bradenton for November’s Manatee County Chalkboard Champion. ABC7′s Jacqueline Matter takes us to Electa Lee Middle School to meet Theater Director Starloe Galletta.
Using her own experiences, Galletta teaches life and the world through drama to a diverse group of middle school students and she often goes beyond the classroom to impact student’s lives.
“I had family that was affected by Hurricane Maria and I contacted Mrs. Galletta and she helped me stay in contact with my grandma.," said 7th grade student Sofia Soto.
"They didn’t have light or water for like two months, they were really affected, and I couldn’t really do anything so when I found out Mrs. Galletta could actually help them I was super happy and grateful that she would help.”
Just a year ago Galletta, also a bilingual world traveler, saw how Hurricane Maria impacted her students and their families, including Soto.
“I’ve always gone after natural disasters to provide assistance at my level and we were very concerned about the lack of drinking water and lack of lights," said Galletta.
The teacher turned this tragedy into a learning experience for her students, collecting lights and water filters to take to Puerto Rico.
“There still wasn’t drinking water in places we were concerned over," Galletta said.
"My students collected over 200 of each and I packed them in suitcases and stayed with complete strangers that I didn’t know and face-timed with my students and delivered some of those lights.”
Galletta’s former teacher and the woman who nominated her for this month’s chalkboard champion says her unique approach is inspiring.
“She brings real world understanding, real world travel and experiences to students who may not have that experience on their own,” said Elaine Graham.
The creative spin on education is a lesson Soto says she now understands.
“We learn that when we’re older we can grow up to help those people that are in need.”
Galletta continues to thank others for letting her do a job she loves, “I couldn’t do what i do if they didn’t believe in me and if they didn’t support my work.”
Mrs. Galletta says she plans to use the 500 dollars won from Gettel Automotive toward a living history project the theater department is working on and to re-paint the stage at Electa Lee Middle School.
If you’re interested in nominating a teacher from Manatee or Sarasota County, click here.