Veteran special-education teacher brings compassion and composure to the classroom

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FYFFE, Ala. (WHNT) - This week's Tools for Teachers Award and 319 dollar prize for school supplies belongs to Robert Gilley.  Mr. Gilley is a special education teacher as well as an Iraq War veteran currently serving in the National Guard as a Sergeant First Class military police officer.  He's been teaching for 13 years and has served our country since 1990.

Mr. Gilley was nominated for this honor by the parents of a current Fyffe student.  They wanted to thank their son's teacher for the compassion and creativity he brings to his job and the difference he makes in their son's life.

It was actually his own experiences growing up in poverty that drew Mr. Gilley to teaching special education.

"A lot of kids that grew up in my time back in the 80’s and 70’s... if you had a disability of some kind, they were kind of put out of place-out of sight out of mind," Gilley told us. "I always kind of felt that way due to poverty."

From the beginning,  he's made it his career mission to ensure every child feels included.

"My goal was to not ever let other kids feel the same way... like they’re being put out of place or out of sight," Gilley said.

So how does military training translate to a special-education classroom? We're told that Mr. Gilley has unique composure when things inevitably don't go according to plan and is always ready to adjust.  It's safe to assume that it's no coincidence that the same traits that make him a good teacher also make him a good soldier.

If you know a worthy teacher, coach, principal, or aide, tell us about them through the Tools for Teachers nomination form.