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Educator touched, inspired young lives

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Claudia Gallant

Claudia Gallant had an open-door policy at the Sewickley Academy, where she served as assistant head of school for academic affairs.

“Everyone felt she was their friend. Everyone felt like she was their colleague. She wanted to hear what they were doing; she wanted to support them in any way. She was the kind of person about whom a young woman would say, ‘I want to grow up to be just like her,' ” said Carla Garfield, a middle school history teacher.

Claudia Gallant died of cancer on Sunday, April 21, 2013, in Concordia at Cabot in Cabot, an assisted living facility where she moved in March. She was 68.

“She was comfortable talking with anyone. If she offered an opinion or advice, she had lots of background experience to bring to the table to discuss. She never lost her temper. She just was the heart of the academy,” Garfield said.

Ms. Gallant recently had resumed knitting, and she enjoyed food, wine, reading and traveling, Garfield said.

“She was well-rounded. She was a touchstone. I will miss her greatly,” Garfield said.

Ms. Gallant led the school's curriculum development efforts, and was responsible for ongoing faculty professional development, according to Head of School Kolia O'Connor.

Ms. Gallant oversaw the transformation of the school's Teachers as Partners program into the New Employee Mentoring Program, which has received national recognition as a model for supporting new academic employees.

O'Connor listed the design and implementation of the school's Global Studies program as “perhaps the crowning achievement of Claudia's tenure.”

Ms. Gallant earned a bachelor's degree in English at Emmanuel College in Boston and a master's in English at the University of Michigan, where she also completed the necessary course work for a doctorate in English.

Ms. Gallant is survived by two sons, Michael Gallant of Merchantville, N.J., and Jon Gallant of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada; two sisters, Cynthia Linkas of South Hamilton, Mass., and Cathryn M. Chadwick of Ipswich, Mass.

A public reception to celebrate her life will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday in the Hansen Library at Sewickley Academy. A program with remarks and music will begin at 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Ms. Gallant expressed her wish that gifts be made to financial aid for Sewickley Academy.

To honor Ms. Gallant, the school has established the Claudia Gallant Global Studies Fund, an endowed fund that will provide financial aid for students to engage in travel, study and service as part of the Global Studies program.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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