Celebrating the Legacy of 42 Years of Service

Posted by: District 4 months ago

Celebrating the Legacy of 42 Years of Service

By Karl Mueller, CUSD Superintendent

“A lot of history is leaving the building this year,” Claudia Gallant commented, highlighting that this year CUSD will say goodbye to 23 retiring team members. While each of these individuals has made a positive impact in our community, two in particular stand out thanks to their endless devotion and dedication. Collectively, Claudia Gallant and Deb Rodgers have served our school district for 42 years, 24 years and 18 years respectively. In the last seven, they have joined forces to spearhead shaping the future of learning for our schools.

One of the things that make these women’s stories unique is that both are Coronado natives, growing up here and graduating from our own Coronado High School in consecutive years. While much has changed since they adorned their cap and gown, as Deb would put it, “many moons ago,” they both truly believe that Coronado has something amazing here.

Claudia Gallant started her career with CUSD in the classroom at Village Elementary School, joining us as a twelve-year teaching veteran. Fellow teacher Susan Keller had the classroom right next to Claudia, saying, “I could tell immediately that I had hit the jackpot. It seemed to me that everything she did was effortless – she had a gift.” Susan continued, “Claudia loved all her students, of course, and they loved her right back. Her classroom was a warm and friendly place to be. When Claudia left the classroom (to become the Senior Director of Learning at the District Office), there was a tremendous void. But Claudia blossomed. She loved the challenge of learning new things and started on her administrative quest.”

That administrative quest as the Senior Director of Learning paired Claudia with seasoned administrative assistant Deb Rodgers. Together, this dream team championed numerous district and state goals, including STEAM initiatives, new learning standards, countless accountability measures, implementation of Common Core, and more. In truth, the list far extends what we can include in this article.

Reflecting on her experience, Claudia stated, “I feel like I am the one who has learned the most. To serve my school, district, and community has been an honor and privilege.”

Even with the last seven years at the District Office, Claudia held that, “I am a teacher at heart. All the moments with my students, all the challenges and light bulb moments, and even the nights and weekends full of grading and planning, was pure joy. I know them all and carry them all in my heart.”

Deb Rodgers states her departure from the banking world to working in the district was, “coming home.” The term “magical” might have been used when describing the rare opening in the district office and her subsequent hiring. “I feel so fortunate to have been part of this for 18 years, and to work in this community. It’s my hometown. There’s no place I would have rather been.”

Claudia doubled down on the impact that Rodgers made, saying, “Deb has been the right hand, left hand, backbone, and heart of the Coronado Unified School District Office. As the Administrative Assistant to two previous assistant superintendents of Curriculum and Instruction and Human Resources and serving with me for the last seven years, Deb has been a significant contributor to the efforts, growth, and successes of all Coronado schools.”

Despite her extensive professional achievements, Deb will be remembered most for her, as Claudia would put it, “collection of hearts. If you’ve ever looked at her desk area, you can’t but help notice her collection of hearts.” Deb put all of her heart into her work, and took her work to heart. Superintendent Karl Mueller swears that Deb even bleeds green.

After seven years of working side by side, the timing for both to retire couldn’t be better. As Deb commented, the position without Claudia, “Just wouldn’t be the same.” Claudia shared the same sentiment.  

Both women see their upcoming retirement as bittersweet. While excited to take on new adventures, they are sad to close such a rewarding chapter of their lives. Launching into retirement, each have plans to travel, relax and spoil grandbabies. Deb and her husband are eagerly awaiting their fall trip to Ireland, 17 years in the making. Meanwhile, Claudia is eager to spend more time with her first grandchild. Claudia commented that they would continue to have their “heart to hearts,” but that they will both enjoy skipping the daily agenda. Each woman hinted that they might not be that easy to get rid of, mentioning volunteering will likely make its way into their upcoming plans.

These two were quite the dynamic duo, investing so much into bettering our district. As you see them around the community, we hope that you thank them for their dedicated service. We can honestly say that Coronado Unified School District, and the students we serve, is a better place thanks to their endless support, commitment, and zeal. We wish them well on their next adventure and hope that we are the beneficiaries of their future volunteer pursuits.