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McIntosh Elementary principal prepares to retire after 50 years of enlightening students

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Inspiring Al Gagliano

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Al Gagliano is an honorary Rockfordian.

The New Orleans native made several stops to the Stateline in his youth to visit family and ultimately landed his first teaching job in the Forest City.

It would be the first step of what would turn into a long impressive career across many schools.

"I first started at Lincoln Park, Bell School. From there I went to Alpine School, Jackson School, then came over to McIntosh and served two years as assistant principal," Gagliano said.

"From McIntosh I went to Kishwaukee and I served 15 years as a principal there and now 10 years back at McIntosh."

Gagliano, or affectionately called Mr. G by students and staff, is often strolling through the halls at McIntosh Elementary.

He enjoys popping into classrooms to check in on teachers and connect with the students.

Mr. G sees that bond has an integral part to his learning model.

"The kids know you will support them, that really plays an important part," Gagliano said.

"I like to have a building that feels like a home so we are a family. We consider each other family."

The family Mr. G has built at McIntosh started well before he took the reigns at the school.

When he decided to leave Kishwaukee for McIntosh, many of his teachers and colleagues followed him, believing in the message and cultural he spread as an administrator.

"I am lucky enough to have worked with him for over 20 years," McIntosh Elementary kindergarten teacher Paula Larson said.

"He doesn't give up. If he's presented with a problem. We keep working until we find a solution."

That's a can do attitude that has lasted 50 years inside schools.

However, when the final bell rings this year, it will Mr. G's last day of school.

There's been a lot of reflection for Gagliano recently, looking back on all the students, parents and teachers he's had the pleasure of meeting.

For him, when he closes his office door for the last time, he's confident and content with the mark he has left on the world of education.

"It's satisfying to know that some of them have listened and followed through and were able to actually be successful."

Mr. G is a great example of what hard work and dedication can do, not only impacting one person but many people and many generations.

If you know anyone trying to make other people better here at home, you can fill out a nomination form here or you can reach out to eleake@wrex.com.

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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