For New York state's 2015 Teacher of the Year Charles Giglio, teaching is a calling that provides the backbone of the nation's citizenry, social conscience and academic excellence.
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Giglio, who began teaching in 1964 and came out of retirement to literally bring Latin back from the dead in Gloversville, urged delegates to be proud of their historic role in society.
"Since the two great wars of the last century, teachers have helped narrow the divide between the classes and have championed equality and diversity in the classroom," Giglio told delegates to NYSUT's 2015 Representative Assembly in Buffalo. "Education has become the great social equalizer in our nation and people no longer doubt the opportunities that exist for all citizens, no matter what one's gender, race, ethnicity or religious beliefs."
He thanked colleagues for partnering with him in his "sacred endeavor … guarding the repository of truth, instructing students to cherish it and dutifully pass this sacred flame to future generations."
Teachers reinforce the values voted on by our country regarding civil rights and voting rights, Giglio said. "Our classrooms are social laboratories of equality, tolerance and compassion. When teachers enter their classroom, they carry the mantle and mandate of the citizenry to reinforce values that were hard won and fought for both at the ballot box and on the battlefield."