Chloe Giampaolo aka JonPaul
Bowie, Maryland, U. S. A.
Her most important classroom achievement was becoming well-versed in conflict resolution through the Alternatives to Violence Project, the result of which her classroom management was a snap. She opened the school year with a 3-day workshop focusing on affirmation of self and others, cooperation, communication, and creative problem solving. This experience set the tone for the entire year. The students loved it since all the exercises were interactive.
Chloe was born and brought up in Baltimore, MD, and attended Eastern High School for Girls, in that city. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from College of Notre Dame, in Baltimore. However, she did not pursue further studies right away, but eventually earned her Master of Science from Morgan State University, in Baltimore. She also earned credits beyond the Masters programme, thinking that perhaps she would continue to achieve a Doctor of Philosophy degree. She realized, however, that she wanted to remain in the classroom and having that degree was of no importance for what she wanted to do.
Her career spanned 35 years, with her teaching in Baltimore County, Baltimore City, and Prince George’s County, all in Maryland; and in Lewiston Public Schools, in Maine. Prior to this, she taught briefly as a religious instructor in Catholic schools in New Jersey and Connecticut.
Most people wince when she tells them that she has taught at every grade level except kindergarten. She even taught high school English briefly in a psychiatric facility, taught adult education, and conducted workshops in the Maryland State Prison. She think the largest class that she ever had consisted of 38 students.
Her experience in teaching high school English in the psychiatric facility was brief, but rewarding. She had taken time off from regular teaching in order to spend more time with her own two young children, but she was doing home and hospital teaching because she could determine her own hours. She was a substitute teacher for several months in the facility. The teens with whom she worked had severe psychiatric problems and teachers always had to be alert for disruptive behaviour. Every teacher’s desk had an alarm button to call for help if needed. Chloe cannot recall her ever having used it.
She was able to motivate her students to write and produce a talent show at the end of the semester. How they loved doing it! She feels that her calm voice and smile were important factors regarding how these teens responded to her. They seemed to like her sense of humour as well.
Her volunteer work in the state prison arose after she had viewed a news clip on local television one evening. The story featured work being conducted by Lee Stern in the state prison system, using the Alternatives to Violence Project.
Chloe was so impressed that she immediately telephoned the station, seeking to know how she could contact Mr. Stern. The rest is history! She received her training from Mr. Stern, one of the founders of AVP, who facilitated conflict resolution workshops in the system for more than ten years. She trained inmates to become facilitators as well. What a marvellous job they performed! In 2004, Chloe was a presenter at the International AVP Conference in New Zealand, where she shared a pre-release workshop written by her inmate facilitators.
She has had many memorable experiences in her career, three of which are related here. They are also mentioned in the Introduction to her novel, This Business of Children, which appears on her web site. She writes under her professional name, Jon Paul, which is the anglicized version of Giampaolo.
Chloe placed fourth graders into “medical school” to learn Greek and Latin roots. Upon “graduation from medical school”, the “doctors” were then invited to perform a rootectomy. Thus, her classroom was turned into an X-Ray laboratory and operating room with supplies donated by the local hospital.
Another fourth grade class buried a 50-year time capsule, enlisting the help of various businesses to make it truly professional. A granite marker rests at the base of the school flag at Montello Elementary School, in Lewiston, Maine. It reads:
Ms. Giampaolo’s Fourth Grade Class
We are the past ~ you are the future.
One of her classes wrote a “term paper” based on their three major fears: death, divorce, and nuclear disaster. Chloe wanted them to learn the key elements of writing such a paper and, as a result of their playground conversations, she discovered what concerned them the most. They were not satisfied with just writing about their fears. They wanted to know what other fourth graders in the school district feared. Therefore, they took a survey and compiled the results in bar graph displays. Their art work embellished the text. Geiger Brothers, publishers of Farmer’s Almanac, agreed to publish the students’ work in a soft cover booklet and subsequently adopted the school with special help.
Upon being awarded a $2,000 grant from the Maine State Department of Education for her proposal, “Unlearning Indian Stereotypes”, another one of her fourth grade classes hosted 15 children from one of the Indian reservations. These children were paired with some of Chloe’s students for an overnight stay. The first event was a cookout for the visitors – adults and children. Afterwards, the adults were treated to a Bed and Breakfast home and the children went home with their hosts. The next day, there was an all-day celebration with all fourth graders participating in learning about Indian culture, dance, medicine, and helping to erect a teepee. The day ended with a performance which her fourth graders staged for their guests.
Throughout the years, there have been many challenges, but three of them top the list: verbal abuse from an administrator, a death threat from a student that was poorly handled by administrators, and parental apathy.
Chloe’s advice to any student teacher entering the profession is simply this: Learn as much as you can about conflict resolution; engage your students in projects that promote learning skills; and become a better listener. Mistakes will be made along the way, but with each mistake that you make, you can say, “This is a perfect mistake for learning something new!” Share this thought with your students as well.
Since her retirement, she has turned to writing full-time and, in 2012, has three books on the market and a fourth one scheduled to be published soon. The first two, Entering the Age of Elegance and What Happens Next: A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits…and More, are non-fiction; the third one, This Business of Children, is fiction and the screenplay has been written by Don MacNab. The fourth one is a children’s book. In writing these books, she simply tries to live her philosophy of life: Find a need and fill it. In October 2012, Chloe was inducted into The International Women’s Leadership Association.
With radio shows, teleseminars, blog posts, and much more, she does not have time for hobbies! She is, however, a world traveller and can boast of having been on all seven continents.
(This page was updated in October 2012.)