….her name is Gallagher….this woman is a Boston expatriate who first laid eyes on the Monterey Peninsula when she came California Dreaming on a visit to Fort Ord to visit her serviceman brother. There was no return. Now she lives with the wintering Monarch butterflies in Pacific Grove. Her job as a tour guide for the Monterey Bay Aquarium has made her an ambassador for the whole Monterey Peninsula. She guards its beauty and its ecology ferociously. Her greatest passion however is John Steinbeck, a passion that has consumed her since moving to Steinbeckland. This woman’s gift is PASSION. At the mention of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath brings back all the dismal, gloomy, grey of the Oakie Depression era students endured as homework. But Gallagher transforms homework into heart work. When she speaks Of Mice & Men, the huge shapeless, Lenny becomes alive as the the gentle giant stroking his velvety little grey mouse deep in this pocket. In Travels with Charlie the reader rides along on a journey with a blue-gray, middle-aged French poodle in a four-legged quixotic vehicle named Rocinante. From the prologue to Cannery Row, Gallagher shares from the heart as if transformed into a Shakespearean actor. She speaks without notes: “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink a grating noise…” ….Teachers generally are not looking for someone’s else’s magic. Teachers are looking for nectar for the soul that feeds the creative spirit and engages its audience as evidenced by the Gallagher’s and the countless others who bring joy, enthusiasm, and energy to the classroom. Tenured professors who read from yellowed notes of yore serve to anesthetize students. Education is way too honorable a profession to be reduced to such trite. Passion is a fragile organism that lives only in the moment. But, PASSION is so very infectious that its tenacity far out weighs its fragility.
Ms. Gallagher, You are an inspiration.
Thank you, M. Bock — Chula Vista Adult School teacher