Travel agent trades in day job for teaching, earns honor - – Rockford’s News Leader

Travel agent trades in day job for teaching, earns honor


Making a career change is never easy, but this week's Teacher of the Week knows exactly what it takes to switch and excel in a new profession.

Barbour Language Academy's Mr. Norman Gilg is a rock star, and you would know that just by stepping into his classroom and hearing his students cheer, as if he was in front of a sellout crowd.

"I care about the kids," Mr. Gilg says. "I like to treat them well. I greet them everyday. They're part of my life and I want to be part of their lives. So I treat them fairly. The curriculum is second. They're first."

You'd think a teacher as popular as Mr. Gilg has been doing it for years, but he's still relatively new to the classroom, after spending decades as a travel agent.

"After 30 years, it was time for a change," he says. "And this is quite an enjoyable job. Everyday I have to pinch myself that I'm a teacher."

He's known for the little things he does in class, singing happy birthday to students on their big days, and even giving advice through journal entries that students can write. But Principal Rosas-Barber says one of his biggest gestures happened recently.

"Last week he just came and said, 'Oh for the benches you are building for the soccer team, a gentleman came and knocked on the door and gave me this for you.' It was 150 dollars," Rosas-Barber says. "Quarter to 7 o'clock in the morning, nobody came to knock at the door to give that money. It was him."

He's giving back to the school that he hopes to be with for a long time.

"I'll be one of those teachers pushing the walker down the hallway," Gilg says. "But it is such a fulfilling job. I don't want to give it up."

If you have a teacher as special as Mr. Gilg, tell us about them. WREX/Rockford College Teacher of the Week nominations can be filled out at, on our Teacher of the Week page.

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