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Spring Valley CCSD Foundation Honors Hall of Fame 1st Inductee

Charles Palia

Spring Valley C.C.S.D. Foundation Honors Hall of Fame

1st Inductee

May 22, 2019

 

It is with great honor to induct Mr. Charles Palia as our 1st ever inductee into the Spring Valley C.C.S.D. Foundation Honors Hall of Fame.   

Charles Palia worked as a teacher, principal, superintendent, and school bus driver for 44 years in the Spring Valley Elementary District. 

State Rep. Frank Mautino proposed a passed House resolution declaring: “We commend Charles Palia for his many years of service to the Spring Valley Elementary Schools and that his “unselfish and distinguished public service and dedication to the education of the youth of Spring Valley will long be remembered.

Mr. Palia was a lifelong resident of Spring Valley and went through the school system culminating with graduation from Hall HS. He then attended junior college at St. Bede Academy as a pre-med major. WWII broke out and he served as a Navy Medic for three years at a hospital in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After the war, he completed his junior college work and then went on to graduate Southern Illinois University in Zoology and Mathematics. He wanted to be a doctor, but two children and a wife changed his mind to education. He taught math and science at Grant and Lincoln schools. At Lincoln he was also the principal. He then became principal at the newly built Kennedy Junior High where he became Superintendent.

On becoming an educator he said, “My choice of education was a good one. It’s every bit as fulfilling as the medical profession, especially when you see a student of yours go on and become productive and successful. I had one class of 21 and of that 19 are now professional people doctors, lawyers, a psychologist; it gives you a sense of accomplishment, knowing that you may have been responsible for a little part of that.

“Some students are going to be lower achievers, some will be higher, but the greatest reward in education is helping the kids reach their potential, whatever that may be, and find their niche.”

He was the district’s first school bus driver and continued to drive the school bus even after becoming superintendent – many times covering routes of sick drivers and driving sports teams, jazz band, for field trips and other school outings.

He received his masters degree in educational administration from Northern Illinois University. 

“When I became superintendent, I didn’t miss the classroom because I could visit them more often, but you don’t have the time to do as much as you feel you should because there’s too much paperwork.”

He helped begin the education for the physically and mentally handicapped in Malden that later became Gateway Center where he served as a board member. He also served on the Bureau County Mental Health Board, was a board member of the Quad-County Counseling Service, director of the Bureau-Marshall-Putnam Counties Special Education Co-op and as a member of the Starved Rock Division of the Illinois Association of School Board’s Governing Board.

He also was Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 33 for 33 years. He served on the Spring Valley Library Board, the Spring Valley Youth Center Board, Spring Valley Rotary where he was president; also active with the American Legion,  American Red Cross, VFW, St. John Bosco Society, Knights of Columbus, Moose, the United Fund and the Salvation Army.

Mr. Palia was quoted on his retirement and what he will miss: “Just walk down the hall here or at any school in the state, you’ll find those little faces looking up at you, saying “hi” to you and maybe giving you a smile. That’s it. You want to give those little ones, and the older ones, too, everything that they need. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.

He was also a recipient of the annual Kahla Jean Lansing Memorial Award. In 1991, the 6-year old little girl, Kahla Jean Lansing, was kidnaped and murdered. The award was established to reward a lifetime of dedicating energy and resources to the safety and well-being of children both professionally and through volunteerism.

Other examples of dedication to the children of the Spring Valley school system was serving as a Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball coach, Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Explorer Scout leader, Scout Master and Explorer and advisory, volunteer with the Lighted Way Association.

Palia: “I’ve always bee involved with children because I’ve enjoyed it, the people I’ve worked with have always been very cooperative and interested in children, be it in scouting, baseball, church work, or anything else. It’s always been very rewarding. You get paid back with a smile or a “hello”, things that money just can’t buy.”

Palia: “It’s very important that adults become involved with children because the children are the future and, like a house, they need a solid foundation. If a program, club or activity helps one child, it’s worth the effort.”

Palia: “I truly feel that everyone who donates of their time to children isn’t wasting their time. It’s all time well-spent.”

Upon his death: 

Former teacher Mary Jane Marini, Special Education, said, “He was really excited about the program and he had a lot of faith in me and made me feel more confident.” She was struck by how much of  gentleman he was, how much he respected women, and above all, is strong love for education and the children involved. “It was such a pleasure to work with someone so sincere and crazy about kids.” 

Cheryl DePaepe area director of the local chapter of the Special Olympics in Peru worked with him at the BMP Special Education Cooperative. “He was an excellent person who always had the gest interests of the children at heart.” “He appreciated the staff, and he let you know he appreciated the work you did.”

Nancy Kulupka Errio-O’Connor, worked as secretary at Lincoln, said, “He was a family friend. We were all connected growing up. He was an educator, a true educator and his focus was on the betterment of children. He touched so many people.” Even though the Kulupka family having a close friendship and Nancy being a classmate of son David Palia, “He’ll always be, and he always was, Mr. Palia. He was never Chuck. He deserved a level of respect, and you can’t say that about a lot of other people.”

His wife was Enise Nanni Palia, two children: Charles Jr. and David Palia. Charles devoted his life to teaching high school English, speech and theater and David worked as an office manager for the Department of Transportation. He also has three grandchildren, Stephanie, degree in finance from the University of Houston, Matthew, degree in business from Western Illinois University, and Kayla degree in Hospitality from the University of Nebraska.

 

Information taken from various articles published in the Bureau County Republican newspaper.

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