Champion of Change: Gwen Gilmore, Teacher, Lorain County Early CollegeKnowledgeWorks Foundation - High School Initiatives - Early College - Champion of Change: Gwen Gilmore - Teacher, Lorain County Early College -
...Gwen Gilmore, teacher, Lorain County Early College
Just mention math teacher Gwen Gilmore's
name, and RoseMarie Wagner's face lights up.
Sitting in the cafeteria between classes, Gilmore
accepted the flattery with a laugh and a wave to students who called her
name as they passed.Juggling conversations and roles comes naturally to Gilmore
, along with her
good humor - they were early lessons, she
said, as the fifth of 13 siblings. Today, Gilmore not only teaches, tutors and mentors students, but also is pastor of the church she founded and president of the Ministerial Alliance of Elyria.She's
working on her
doctorate in divinity, helps care for her
mother, is close to her
three grown sons and manages to go out on a "real date" with her
10th-grade sweetheart, at least once a month.Gilmore
shrugged off her
accomplishments."You can't have 12 siblings without developing skills," she
said."You learn sharing, leadership, coping, community.I saw strength and struggling, and a strong commitment between my parents.They were good models."
Their lessons served her
well.Born in Tennessee, Gilmore moved to Cleveland as a young girl and excelled as "the original Early College student," graduating from Oberlin High School after her junior year and getting a head start on college classes.
twenties were marked by a major health crisis that turned out to be the pivotal experience of her
oldest son, now 35, was just five years old, but Gilmore
remembers every moment of the morning when her
brain started hemorrhaging.In the few minutes before she
slipped into a coma, she
family and said good-bye to her
husband - for the last time, she
was certain.When she
awoke two weeks later, she
declined all surgery and medications."I said to my spirit, `I'm healed,' and I knew that people will be healed because of what happened to me."
Gilmore's first order of business, she
said, was to "start life all over again."She
took off two years from work to enjoy her
children, then eased her
way back into her
career, first as a receptionist with the Elyria schools
, then as a mental health technician.Along the way, she also did missionary work in Nigeria and, in 1998, started the Full Gospel Faith Fellowship Church.
"I had a dream about it - I saw myself putting my name up on a marquee," Gilmore
pastor licensed her
to preach, and the church now has 75 members.
All the while, Gilmore
wanted to teach math, her
first academic love, "because these kids need to solve problems they can see an end to."She
specifically wanted to teach teenagers."They seem to be where my heart beats," she
, it's not about teaching the content-it's about making students understand the content," Valentine said, "and she does everything she can to see that that happens.
smiled as she
things for her
next class."I can't separate who I am from what I do," she