For Galushas, Teaching Runs in the Family
By Dan Sheridan
Teaching runs in the Galusha family. Bellevue University Associate Professor of the College of Arts and Sciences, Rick Galusha, and Director of the Teacher Education Program, Debbie Galusha, are siblings who come from a family of teachers. Their father is a retired government and history teacher, and their mother is a retired early childhood and special education teacher. Rick and Debbie have a third sibling, Wes, who is a retired teacher. The third generation is now carrying the torch as Debbie’s son, Jules Galusha, joined the Bellevue University team on August 27 as an adjunct Faculty member teaching physics.
Though they have a common love of learning, their areas of interest vary. “I have always been drawn toward history,” said Rick. Debbie says, “I have the math and science gene from my mother’s side.” Wes, the third Galusha child, is passionate about art.
Their adventurous childhood shaped who they are today. “When we were kids,” explained Debbie, “every summer we would travel to a different town. Dad would teach during the school year, and then the moment he arrived home after the last day of school we’d pile in the car, the attached U-Haul already packed, and hit the road toward his summer grad school destination. Wherever we stayed that particular summer -- places like Montana, Kansas, New York, and Missouri -- the weekends were spent visiting historical sites.” As a result, in addition to their public school education, the Galushas participated in mobile summer-school classes conducted by mom and dad.
Rick and Debbie were influenced by their parents’ example. “They modeled for us a love for learning,” Debbie proudly explained. “We witnessed our father’s hard work those many summers, and then a few years later we watched him play ‘Mr. Mom’ while mom was going to school. They faithfully supported each other in turn and together accomplished their goals.” Though retired, Rick and Debbie’s parents are still educating themselves, staying on top of current events as well as historical and scientific advancements.
Rick now serves as Program Director of Bellevue University’s Kirkpatrick Signature Series and also teaches KSS classes. He also teaches a class called “Notes & Votes” that examines how popular music reflects society and looks at the historical and cultural context of a wide variety of music. Rick has a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in business and information systems and is finishing his doctoral thesis in political science.
Debbie, who begins teaching classes this fall, has a bachelor’s in English, master’s degrees in agronomy and in educational administration and leadership, and a doctorate of education in educational administration and leadership. “Because of our education,” said Debbie, “we could have chosen just about any profession, but teaching simply happened because it is in our blood.” Summing-up her passion she says, “I love helping others learn more about how to teach.”
Rick, a big music fan, did not want to become a teacher initially. “I saw firsthand how hard K-12 teachers work,” explained Rick, “so I originally chose to go into the music industry working with labels, record stores, and promoting concerts. I ran a chain of record stores for over 20 years, a job which I enjoyed immensely. But when the business took a downturn at the dawning of the MP3 era, I went back to school and earned my master’s degree.”
Rick is still involved in the music industry as he is going on his 28th year as the volunteer host of a radio show – Pacific Street Blues & Americana -- but is now doing what runs in his family: teaching. “There is nothing more rewarding than teaching,” said Rick, “you have to believe that you are changing the world. You may not change it like Martin Luther King did, but you can sure effect the quality of life and the way people think.”
One recent example stands out. “A student I had several years ago,” explained Rick, “who called me out of the blue and told me that while he was listening to a discussion of important issues on the radio, the lessons of the Kirkpatrick Signature Series at that very moment clicked for him – they converged at that moment and came alive.”
The Galushas are proud to be part of the Bellevue University team. Debbie, who began working at Bellevue University in 2016, believes it is the culture at Bellevue University that makes all the difference in the world. “I have appreciated the openness among the faculty and administration to new ideas.”
Rick agreed. “The culture is the strength of an organization, and under President Hawkins’ leadership, Bellevue University is a well-structured, professional, and warm environment.”