Longest tenured Hollidaysburg teacher calling it a career

HOLLIDAYSBURG – The longest tenured teacher at Hollidaysburg Area School District is retiring at the end of this school year.

Gifted support teacher Adele Giller began her career in her native state of New York, but she has spent 45 years of her career teaching at Hollidaysburg Area. She has 10 more years of teaching at the district than Hollidaysburg Area’s next longest tenured teachers, Human Resources Director Dwight Straesser said.

Giller arrived in Hollidaysburg Sept. 3, 1968, to teach fifth and sixth grades. She then joined a team of teachers who started a gifted support program for students.

“It’s important to listen to our kids, and not to just say ‘this is the lesson for today and this is what we are going to do, now sit down Johnny because it’s time,” Giller said. “We’ve got to stop and hear what they have to say because once you know where they are coming from, it’s easier to instruct and have them teach themselves.”

Giller has been teaching since she was a child with a talent for playing the piano, said her husband, Ed Giller.

At age 13, she was a volunteer music teacher for a summer program held on a playground in New York, he said.

“She’s been a teacher all her life,” he said.

Adele attended Hunter College to earn an undergraduate degree in elementary education and music education. She later earned a masters degree in curriculum and supervision from Penn State University.

Among her accomplishments at Hollidaysburg Area is developing a gifted curriculum for first-graders.

Gifted programs are for students with an IQ of 130 or higher, but an aspect of her job that Giller considers especially important is providing gifted support services and enrichment activities in the regular education classroom so all students are involved.

“Sometimes we have gifted kids doing peer tutoring with regular education students, giving them extra leadership,” she said. “There’s nothing like kids teaching kids if you want to see them really learn.”

At other times, gifted students are taken out of the class and supplied with enrichment in a separate location.

“We have youngsters very interested in science and so they delve into an area that concerns them,” she said. “Last year we teamed sixth-graders with first-graders, all of whom were gifted students, because these little first-graders had questions which required what we call an expert at their level to help them understand the kinds of things that we were doing.”

Prior to coming to Hollidaysburg, Giller taught elementary and high school students in the East Bronx, New York from 1958-1959, then in Binghamton, N.Y. from 1959-1960.

Adele and Ed were married at 18 years old.

“We will be married for 57 years this October,” he said.

They moved several times as he obtained new jobs in radio and television.

The start of the ’60s brought change to the couple’s lives as they moved from their home state to Shawnee Mission, Kan. Adele had three children, and she put her teaching career on hold until the family moved to Hollidaysburg in 1968. Ed became owner of WFBG-AM and FM which would become WTAJ.

While a teacher, Giller continued to further her education at Penn State. She suffered a terrible car wreck in 1975, the year she earned her master’s degree.

“Her car rolled three times,” Ed said. “She broke her neck.”

But she was more upset that a B grade spoiled her straight-A average, he laughed.

“My philosophy is there is always something new to learn,” Adele said. “Someone who is still raising their own educational level serves as a model for children.”

Her career at Hollidaysburg has been rewarding, she said.

“I’ve taught better than two generations of children,” she said. “I’ve worked with wonderful administrators and school personnel.”

Students in the gifted program have achieved significant accomplishments. Last year at the high school level, for example, a student’s independent research project on glaucoma was accepted for publication by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

Giller doesn’t plan on retiring completely.

Ed said Adele is registering to be a substitute teacher and would conduct workshops for teachers if asked.

“Once a teacher, always a teacher,” Adele said. “I will never give it up completely. I will always find someone to teach.”