From the fairway to the classroom: John Gallup keeps the course

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JOHN GALLUP: history teacher, former golf pro, facilitator of Peace Jam, citizen of the world. Before Gallup was teaching in the classroom, he was teaching players on the golf course, touring the country by entering state tournaments, and meeting a lot of incredible people. He thrived in this profession for about 25 years before he decided it was time for a change of course. Not all of his memorable experiences as a golf pro came from playing. “I played with some celebrities-I played with some big sports figures–I got to meet some really famous people.” I got to meet some people that weren’t so famous, but were really amazing. He follows up saying, “My best experiences–they came from all of the people I met, because I met amazing people.”

   Gallup was just nine years old when he started golfing. He played on his high school team and then played a couple years at Metropolitan (Metro) State University, after which he left early to go play as a golf pro. “Then I kinda realized early on, after I worked at golf courses, that I was going to be successful at it [golfing].”

   Being a golf pro might not appear as the most rigorous job, but in reality it requires a lot of time and commitment. In the summertime, he was usually working long hours for six to seven days a week, moving all around the country, meeting all kinds of people, and working and playing at numerous courses throughout his years

   Gallup, father of three, recalls the beginning of his educational career: “Well, it was probably about six months before I went back to school [at Metro State University]. My wife and I had adopted two kids, and I had been a golf pro before that, which requires you to work very long hours, pretty much six-seven days a week during the summertime, and adopting two kids I realized that I wouldn’t ever see my kids during the summer. So I went and got a paraprofessional job at Jefferson High School, which was right down the street from where we lived.”

   This is when he realized that he liked teaching, and it didn’t matter what he was teaching, because he still enjoyed it. “I was just a helper in the classroom, to see if I would like the classroom. And I got stuck in math classrooms, which I knew nothing about. But I helped, and I liked it, and that’s when I realized that I wanted to be a teacher; and then when it came to the subject [that he wanted to teach], history, just through my travels around the world-was what I wanted to do.”


All Around the Country


   He was never on the PGA Tour, but he would play on smaller tours that nobody would know about, play in the state opens, and manage golf facilities, which included giving lessons to lots of different people. “That was really what my career was all about.”

   There are so many golf courses Gallup likes, that it is like a kid’s wish list for Santa Claus. It could just go on and on. “There’s a lot of courses I like. Pebble Beach is really nice. L.A. North is really nice. The Air Force Academy is really nice. I could go on; I mean I’ve got probably fifty golf courses that I think are great.”

   Gallup not only had the opportunity to play various courses all throughout the country, he also had the opportunity to meet some “really amazing people.” As far as the big name celebrities go, he met tons of them. “I played golf with Johnny Bench, he was a catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. I played golf with George Blanda, he was a quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, and a punter. I met Elizabeth Taylor, a very famous actress. I played golf with Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. I played golf with Arnold Palmer.”

   But it was not just the celebrities that were memorable people. He met all kinds of tour players because he worked at a course that had a PGA Tour stop, including a golfer named Doug Sanders, who has racked up an impressive 23 professional wins, 20 being for the PGA TOUR. “Some of the most impressive people were people who weren’t necessarily famous, but had done amazing things in their lives. And when you’d say you go play golf with them, you’d talk for four hours, and you would really get to know somebody.”

 

Teaching of Different Sorts

   Gallup entered a new chapter of his life as a history teacher, creating new experiences, having been challenged to learn as a teacher, and the challenge of having to teach hundreds of world and American history students. He said that his biggest challenge is “motivating the students to take their education seriously.” As far as what he feels his biggest accomplishment as a teacher is, there is nothing specific. He is just pleased when students learn and leave his class with more knowledge. “I don’t have any one thing that I would think of as my biggest accomplishment. If the kids get through my class, they’re interested, I can get them excited in history, and they can learn something, then I’m pretty proud of that.”

   Since teaching is right up his alley, it was not surprising to learn that he was a teaching professional at Bear Creek golf club in Denver and was able to coach member A.J. Christoff, who has been a defensive coordinator at several universities in Division 1 football and in the NFL for more than 30 years. Gallup helped Christoff take his golf handicap from an eighteen down to a six, meaning he was averaging about twelve less strokes than before. “That was a tremendous jump in somebody’s handicap falling that far. And he worked really hard at it too.”


Peace Jam

   These days, Gallup actively facilitates the Peace Jam club at Arvada West High School. He steers the club in the direction that he thinks it needs to go. “Its primary goal is to aid people locally, nationally, and internationally who need help. Be it food, or clothing, or school supplies, or health care… anything we can do to make peoples’ lives around the state, in Arvada, or internationally, better.” He believes that Peace Jam is an opportunity to represent yourself as a beneficial citizen, not of the United States, but the world. “Well this is my theory: every single person is a citizen of the world before they are a citizen of their country, and they need to be more concerned with that aspect than they do their country.”

   Gallup has proven to be capable of reinventing himself. He worked a long golf career, then returned to Metro State University, teaching High Schoolers, and raising three kids with his wife. New opportunities may arise for him in the future, but for now, he remains busy teaching. “I would hope kids, when they come to my class have fun, enjoy it, learn something; and when they leave my class they have a greater ability to think critically, and analyze their world so that they can do better [outside of class]. That’s my closing statement.”

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