My PCSD Story: Tiffany Stropko, Valley Forge Class of 1997
December 17, 2018
Name: Tiffany Galioto-Stropko
High School: Valley Forge High School
Graduation Year: 1997
College, Major(s), Degree(s) Earned, Graduation:
Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education/Career and Technical Education/Work and Family Life from Kent State University
Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership from Baldwin Wallace University
PhD Program –Urban Education and School Improvement –Concordia University
2002-2006 - Family and Consumer Science Teacher at NHS
2006-2012 - Assistant Principal at Valley Forge High School
2012-2015 - Principal at Hillside Middle School
2015-2017 - Principal at Pleasant Valley Elementary School
2017-Present - Assistant Director of Human Resources at Parma City School District
How did your experiences at Parma City School District help you to achieve success in your career today?
I had educators and support staff that believed in me as a young adolescent. Not only did they believe in me, but they also gave me to the support and resources to be successful. When hiring future candidates for the PCSD, I look at how that candidate can articulate and demonstrate their connection with our children by being proactive, while modeling character traits that our students can use throughout their life.
What is your favorite school memory growing up?
During my ninth grade year at Valley Forge, I attended the Parma Senior High vs. Valley Forge football game. I was there with my family, and I remember watching the majorettes twirl during the halftime show. I said aloud, “I want to do that.” Both my parents laughed and said there is no way because those girls have been twirling for years.
Later that week I begged my mother to sign me up for baton lessons. She signed me up for private lessons, but I had to pay for it with my Sun Post paper route money. I practiced daily in my driveway determined to make the team in May. This included practicing in rain, cold and snow. Many bruises and injuries, but I persevered and was ready to twirl for tryouts with a 1-baton and 2-baton routine. During tryouts, I had a flawless performance and nailed every combination, throw and catch.
Later that evening, the phone rang and my dad answered. It was the head majorette, explaining that I made the team for my sophomore year. Both my parents and I were jumping up and down screaming. The hours of practice and the dedication paid off. I twirled as a Liberty Bell majorette for my sophomore, junior and senior year at Valley Forge High School. I believe that moment in my life proved that I am a self-learner and can do anything if I work hard and practice.
Who was your favorite teacher and how did they inspire you?
During eighth grade at Greenbriar Middle School, I had an English teacher that inspired me to write and use creativity with narrative, opinion and informational writing. We had a daily “free write” activity with a journal prompt connected to our learning objective and real life. That year, I had two major family deaths in November and April. I was able to use the journal process to express my feelings during this difficult time. I received valuable feedback on the mechanics and content of my writing that allowed me to finally have confidence in my educational goal. Finally, my English teacher truly cared about the difficulties in my personal life. She was a mentor and role model. I will never forget her compassion, words and positive language during the most difficult year of my life.
Years later, I was working as a principal at Hillside Middle School. At the end of the day during the first week of school, I had a discussion with my secretary about the most influential teacher I had in the PCSD. I told my secretary that I wish I could thank this teacher for everything she did for me. My secretary said to walk down to room 107 because Mrs. Thadda Layhew (married name) was a teacher in our building. I ran down the hallway like a child, but in my late 30s, and said thank you Mrs. Layhew. I told her she was the reason I am an educator. I think we both cried! I cried because I finally had a chance to tell her what an inspiration she was to me, and now I get work with her as a professional colleague.
Looking back to your school years, what is one thing you learned that has stayed with you throughout the years?
Every child as a story. It is our job as educators and support staff to understand the story of each individual child. You never know how your words or gesture will impact someone forever. It is okay to make mistakes and be vulnerable, so long as you can reflect and learn from mistakes. Failure is a part of growth!
What does PCSD mean to you?
Parma City School District provides students with opportunities to tap into their talents and skill sets to grow as a life-long learner. Educators and support staff saw potential in me and continued to support and guide me to attend a college/university. Without the relationships I had with my former teachers, I would have never gone to pursue a college education. I am forever grateful as our educators and support staff care about our students and do whatever it takes. I am a product of this environment.
What is one thing you want people to know about you?
I was a child that grew up in poverty with limited resources. My parents worked multiple jobs to provide the basic necessities to our family. It was hard growing up when I was always worried about how my parents were going to pay for something. I was the first in my family to graduate from college.
Why are you Parma Proud?
I am Parma Proud that I can work in a school system that has shaped me to be the person I am today! I am a proud graduate and a proud educator of the PCSD!
Over the next few weeks and months, the Monitor will highlight PCSD alumni who work in our schools and in the communities we serve. Do you know alumni who we should highlight? Do they have a great story PCSD story to tell? E-mail us with contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!