Could you imagine one of your first memories as a teacher at SJV being September 11, 2001? By the grace of God, Mrs. Gloria Reali (retired, 2022), began her tenured career at St. John Vianney Catholic School at a time when many say, the world stopped turning. “On 9/11, the entire school stopped, went to church and prayed. Together.” Mrs. Reali who spent more than 20 years at St. John Vianney has worn many a hat, seen many a Tiger and has lived the catholic school experience from the perspective of a mother and a teacher. She really has done it all. In May, 2022, Mrs. Reali said her final good bye to SJV, retiring as a professional educator. The school is what it is today thanks to teachers like Mrs. Reali. But now that she is retired, what is she to do with her time you might ask…
A grandma to nine, Mrs. Reali continue to stay busy with kids (who’s surprised?). As a mother to six of her own children, she is fortunate to have her four daughters, Christy, Karrie (SJV alumni), Kellie (SJV alumni) and Elizabeth (SJV alumni), live locally. Her son Nicholas (SJV alumni) lives in Tennessee and one of her children is in heaven with Jesus after experiencing a neurological illness as a young child. Mrs. Reali has been married to Paolo Reali for 46 years. He is currently the maintenance manager for the entire St. John Vianney property. Together, they have been active parishioners at St. John Vianney for more than 40 years and continue to attend Mass weekly. When Mrs. Reali is not enjoying time as a Grandma, you might find her at the gym, on or around Lake Natoma on her paddle board, on a bike or on the trails. She is happiest outside, hiking, enjoying the mountains, especially Lake Tahoe. To balance all of her activity, she always finds time to read. Books have always been a passion of Mrs. Reali’s. Coincidentally her first role at SJV was as a librarian! And if travel, grandkids and relaxation wasn’t enough to fill her schedule, why not welcome a puppy to the household? Mrs. Reali has spent much of her first months as a retiree training their new dog, Henry, a German Shepherd/Lab mix. Much like students, Henry keeps her equally busy on the go simultaneously with a smile on.
Mrs. Reali began her journey in education by obtaining her BA in Education, Library and Media Technology from Sacramento State University, followed by a MA in Education with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction from Grand Canyon University. She has experience as a librarian, resource teacher, 5th grade, social studies, English, English as a second language, vice principal and 1st grade. Her elementary school tool kit is expansive to say the least! If she had to choose a favorite, 1st grade was the most fulfilling. When asked what resonates with her about first graders, Mrs. Reali says, “students are in awe of life, they are excited about life!” Teaching these young learners was a gift of Mrs. Reali’s, she believed in their creativity and enthusiasm and turned that into a strong foundation for learning. Many of Mrs. Reali’s students will recall Lucky, the tortoise. The first grade class pet, Lucky, was a guaranteed moment of joy for the class. Having a pet teaches responsibility and accountability but it also provides pure happiness for children. Memories of students with Lucky are some of Mrs. Reali’s favorites when she thinks back on her many years as a teacher. First graders have a unique way of being honest, they show all of their emotions according to Mrs. Reali. She saw this throughout the years. For example, when learning math facts, an activity that requires students to race against their individual time, as they improved their internal confidence would shift, knowing they were doing their best work. Mrs. Reali’s favorite was teaching religion and having class discussions about everything from the virtues to Stations of the Cross. Watching each student’s relationship with God grow was the most satisfying. Watching this growth, from young people, was a privilege that Mrs. Reali continues to hold close to her heart.
While there is no doubt SJV is missing Mrs. Reali this year, we could not have been more blessed by her dedication to Catholic education and years she spent on campus. Her work at SJV lives on through the students who have gone through her classroom. Each student will carry a little morsel of goodness from first grade with them throughout their academic journey and on into adulthood. Perhaps that is the everlasting gift from a teacher. Students absorb their surroundings like sponges and take what they learn to the next level. God Bless Mrs. Reali for giving students at St. John Vianney nothing short of the very best experience.