Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401

Photo courtesy of Carmen Gallardo

English teacher Carmen Gallardo, U.S. Navy


How do you reflect on your service this Veterans Day?

My service matters more than I thought at the time that I was in it. When you’re living the day to day, you don’t realize the magnitude of what you’re doing until years later. So that is, I think, the biggest takeaway for me: that I did a lot more than I thought I did.


Why did you join the U.S. Navy?

I wish I could give you a patriotic answer, but I can’t. I can only give you the honest one: At the time, I was 19, I was rudderless, and I was going to college, but I really had no direction. The ambition that I had that drove me through high school really just kind of deflated, and my best friend at the time, on a whim, told me she was going to join the Navy. And I, like a sheeple, followed her and did it.


What did you learn from that spontaneous decision to become a servicewoman?

I learned that it’s OK to not know what you’re going to be or what you want to do, which is funny, because now, having a son in college, I want so badly for him to have the direction that I didn’t have. But, I find myself being much more understanding of the fact that, even if he doesn’t know, it’s OK. I just think that as you go, you learn a lot about what you want to do and want to be. More importantly, by observation, you learn a lot about what you don’t want to be and I think that that’s a powerful learning tool.


How does your service experience translate to the classroom?

Oh, Lord… Too many ways. I am a creature of habit: I like routine, I like stability, and I like knowing what we’re going to do. I give everyone a calendar every quarter so we know at least there’s a guide as to what we’re going to get done. I also like the muscle memory of training, too. I think that’s probably why I love grammar as much as I do, because grammar allows for that type of learning to take place, and kids really thrive in it. I like to make sure that we’re all working together to get to the same place.

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