Two Retiring GK Staff Reflect on Careers—and Offer Hope for the Future
Two educators who have nearly 40 years of combined service with Genoa-Kingston CUSD #424 are set to retire this year—but not without first reflecting on their respective careers, and offering hopeful messages for the future.
Sue Hughes, Genoa-Kingston High School’s Physical Education and Personal Fitness teacher since 1999, and Dani-Jo Galauner, a third and fourth grade teacher at Genoa Elementary School since 2002, said working with the students and staff in the district have been among the best years of their lives.
“My favorite part of teaching in the physical education field has been working with the students and seeing their growth over their four years of high school,” Hughes said. “So many challenges overcome, and so much joy at graduation. I have worked, and currently work with, many awesome colleagues who have been of great support and, at times, comfort.”
Galauner said that while she has worn several different teaching hats over the years, she mainly considers herself a fourth grade teacher, recalling it as her “best teaching years ever.”
“My favorite part of my teaching journey is meeting so many people,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed the many teams I’ve worked with! So many are not with the district any longer, but were absolutely the best people I could have ever asked to work with. Of course my journey must include the many students I’ve taught as well. The enjoyment I get when they come back through my doorway and visit is truly the best feeling—it’s heartfelt combined with pride.”
As the two prepare to move on to their next chapters in life, we asked Hughes and Galauner what advice or wisdom they would pass along to someone
considering a career in education or working in schools.
“Education is a challenging but rewarding occupation,” Hughes said. “Every day is going to be different because you cannot really predict what your students will bring to class in attitude, health, motivation, and so on. There will be very few times where you will be bored, and I think that is a great thing — it can either keep you young or send you the other way!”
Galauner agreed, emphasizing that flexibility, creativity and the ability to adapt is key to long-term success in working with students.
“The advice I’d give a new teacher is not to over-indulge in one learning process,” she said. “Things change in education so quickly. You must be flexible and willing to grow and change.”
Now, amid a particularly strange time in recent history, the experienced educators also reflected on ways they overcame past tribulations—offering messages of hope through their personal insight.
“Especially in today’s times,” Galauner said, “I would say to not to take yourself too seriously, and take things one day at a time. Don’t over think things. The journey is yours and yours alone.”
For Hughes, it’s the steady jog—not the fast sprint—that will help in persevering through difficult times.
“This definitely is a strange time in history — one that I hope will not repeat itself,” she said. “My advice is to just keep plugging along and follow protocols so you stay safe and healthy. This will pass and may change how we live and work for a while. Have faith and patience.”
After looking back on a career well-spent, both teachers say they’re grateful for the experience to be a part of so many special lives—especially the students.
“I have enjoyed my years here at GKHS,” Hughes said. “I appreciate every one of the students that I have taught over the years. Without you, I would not be the person I am today. Thank you.”
Galauner said she’s happy she chose a career that allowed her to be true to herself, and to make meaningful connections that will last a lifetime—urging others to “move through life with your heart leading!”
“I followed my heart from the start,” she said. “When I had many family members trying to give me advice to not go into education, I did not listen. It was the best decision I ever made. I’ve been passionately in love with teaching all these years! I’ve never referred to it as work. It’s been a love affair with passion, pride and hard work. Thank you GK for making it so easy to love, and love I did.”