Like a character in a spy novel, Pat Gallagher ’04 got a spur-of-the-moment job assignment overseas and had to spring into action.
The mild-mannered English teacher had just 24 hours to decide if he’d be willing to travel to China. Principal Dan Bradesca ’88 wanted Gallagher to participate in a tour arranged by the IPERC Bridging Program, an effort to promote and implement educational exchanges between the U.S. and China.
Gallagher mulled the idea over in his head and discussed it with his wife, Saint Ignatius art teacher Julianna Burrows. She encouraged him to go, and he knew the trip would be a great opportunity. He got back to Bradesca the next day and said yes, he could count on him to go. (Sadly, the James Bond analogy falls apart here; he didn’t have to leave for about six weeks. Still, that’s really short notice.)
The December 2015 trip lasted 12 days. Gallagher was part of a group of educators including some from Walsh Jesuit and Bishop Ready (Columbus) high schools. They visited schools in six Chinese cities during the trip, traveling every other day.
“It was a great experience, but it was also a lot of work,” says Gallagher. Walsh already hosts some Chinese exchange students, and he was there to explore the possibility of establishing such a program at Saint Ignatius. It would be consistent with the school’s strategic plan, which calls for an increase in globalized learning.
Taking the whirlwind trip was worth it to Gallagher, who before hadn’t considered traveling to China. It was another in a series of adventures for a guy who hadn’t even thought of becoming a teacher until he was a college sophomore. Raised in South Euclid, Gallagher had played football at Saint Ignatius and entered Ohio University wanting to be a sports agent. He became disenchanted with that idea after his freshman year, and with an advisor’s guidance, switched his focus to education.
Gallagher earned a degree in education in 2008 and became a student teacher at Brush High School in Lyndhurst in the fall of that year. In 2009, he applied and was accepted into the Saint Ignatius Alumni Volunteer program.
Gallagher’s experience as a volunteer solidified his teaching vocation. He saw how happy and fulfilled many of the teachers seemed to be, and he also enjoyed guiding and challenging students. He was searching for a job out of town, but by chance happened to see that a position was available in the Saint Ignatius English department. He was hired in 2010.
Gallagher teaches a variety of classes, including honors English I, British literature, literature and composition, cinema as literature, and one of the most popular senior electives, Irish literature. Gallagher is 100 percent Irish-American and was happy to take on the class. The syllabus includes drama, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and covers works from authors such as Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, and Frank O’Connor.
He earned a master’s degree in humanities from John Carroll University in 2015 – which, along with the trip to China, made for a pretty significant year. Gallagher is grateful for all the opportunities Saint Ignatius has provided him over the years, especially traveling. He went on a mission trip to Ecuador as a student, and recently made the Ignatian Pilgrimage trip with his wife, Julianna, as well as other Saint Ignatius faculty and staff.
“I always tell my students to take advantage of those opportunities,” says Gallagher. “Travel is a way to open oneself up, to step across boundaries.”