Educator of the year | Teen Ink

Educator of the year

April 5, 2019
By Sway SILVER, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Sway SILVER, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Don Galster

5th - 8th grade

Bayside Middle School

Principle (Former)


Dr. Galster was a role model for the staff as well as the students. Dr. Galster stood at six foot seven inches tall and had broad shoulders. His size was intimidating but it never scared me. As I started to interact with him I realized that he is an exquisite man who always wants to do what is best for you.

When I was in middle school I was a troublemaker. I would skip class and disobey my teachers. I was an issue for the staff at that school. With that said, whenever I would get into trouble (which would be quite often) I would get sent to Dr. Galster's office where we would sit together and talk through what happened and what actions I can take to make up for my behavior.

On average I was in his office about three or four times a week so I became friends with Dr. Galster. We would talk about sports and we would talk about his family and mine. We talked a lot about basketball and how he played in college (his frame was a perfect build for a basketball player) and all that time that I spent in his office no longer felt like a punishment, it felt like I got to hang out with a new friend and unexpected friend.

One day I was doing my homework in the computer lab and my math teacher came in and told me “You are not allowed to work in the lab because of your behavior.”

But a lot of my friends were in the lab doing homework and I was having a great time while I was doing my work. I told her I wasn't going to leave. So my math teacher calls Dr. Galster to get me out of the lab. When he came into the lab and he said: “Nick come on let’s go work in my office.”

But for some reason and to this day I can't tell you why I didn't want to go to his office I wanted to stay and do my work with my friends so I tell him that I wasn't going to leave. He leaves and comes back fifteen minutes later and this time he is accompanied by my mom.

He then said to me, “Nick you will not listen to your teacher I understand that but you will listen to me and Because you are making the choice to not listen to me I have called your mother and I will ask you to leave and serve a two day out of school suspension.”

After he said that, I felt terrible I didn't just listen to him and go to his office and work, but at the same time I felt hurt by Dr. Glaster. I thought we had bonded and become friends, but I also understand where he was coming from he is in charge and I needed to listen to him.  

After this encounter, I did my two days out of school suspension and when I came back I didn't get in trouble as often. I went from going to the principal's office three or four times a week to once or twice a month. He had taught me I must listen to those who care for me and to think about what my actions might ensue. He taught me that my grades matter and that school was important and I should be the best form of myself every day.

Dr. Galster left Bayside Middle School about halfway through my eighth-grade year. He had been a good friend of mine since fifth grade I knew that wherever he went he would make a difference for others and put them on the right path when they have lost their way.

Dr. Galster was one of the most influential people in my life and he deserves the educator of the year award for all of the hearts and minds that he has influenced and still continue to influence to this day.

The author's comments:

This piece is about my old middle school principal who was very influential in my life.

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