Outgoing president Jean Vallone Gagliardo was honored at the 41st Ånnual Cellini Lodge No. 2206 Scholarship Dinner held at Leonard's of Great Neck.
Gagliardo was an outstanding president with an extraordinary background.
She was born and raised in Brooklyn by her parents Catarina and Vincenzo Vallone. She was the oldest of three girls and her dad was a very successful owner of a prominent laundry in Brooklyn.
She made her first visit to Italy when she was five and lived for nine months among her father's family in Sicily where her Italian roots were firmly planted.
In high school she was the recipient of the English, Spanish and Italian awards at Bay Ridge High. She was a member of the Honor Society and ARISTA. After high school she was accepted into St. Joseph's College for Women in Brooklyn where she majored in Spanish, since Italian was not an option, and minored in secondary education.
At college she quickly excelled and became the president of the Spanish Club, was involved in numerous religion committee, was in the German club and volunteered as a special tutor for disabled servicemen at the Veteran's Administration in Manhattan.
When she completed her student teaching at Boys' High Annex she was then licensed to teach Spanish and French at the Annex.
In 1952 she married her husband, Frank, who encouraged her to apply for a position with Time International in Manhattan for their new magazine Life en Espanol. She was hired as the only Italian American employee in the Traffic Department of the magazine. In 1954 her fist child, Michael, was born and she then put her career on hold to raise her family of three sons and one daughter.
As a resident of New Hyde Park, Gagliardo taught religious education at Notre Dame Parish and initiated the first Italian After-School class at the church. While her children attended Herricks schools, she was active in the PTA and selected as Parliamentarian for the high school group. In this position, she was solely instrumental in closing a shop that was selling fake coke cans and other items to students as drug paraphernalia. As a Den Mother and scout leader, she participated in many social programs. As a proud Italian-American was always ready to enter the mainstream of society and take her place as an active member.
Moving on to Syosset, Gagliardo is presently a religions education teacher at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Hicksville.
In 1972, she returned to teaching, just 22 years after receiving her bachelor's degree she received her master's degree in education from Queens College, but the sudden tragic death of her oldest son ended her desire to continue her education.
In 1976, when her husband, Frank, joined the Cellini Lodge No. 2206, Jean Gagliardo began her active participation in OSIA as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the lodge filling all offers positions from trustee to president. Always ready to support the lodge she and her husband attended many NYSOSIA. In 1988, when Cellini became co-ed Gagliardo was initiated as a member and named the first co-ed lodge parliamentarian. During her membership years, she worked on various committees and chaired many functions and fundraisers.
Then, in 1988, she became the first woman Scholarship Committee member, Then, when National President Joseph Sciame became NYOSIA President, he established a NYOSIA Education Committee appoint Gallardo as the New York State Education Chairperson and she held that position for six years.
She continues to disseminate cultural knowledge, materials, activities and influences school programs in Italian classes in order to support the study of Italian on all levels, but places the emphasis on the elementary level. As the Scholarship Chairperson for Cellini she feels honored to work with National Past President Joseph Sciame in this endeavor.
Gagliardo's motto is, "We the present, coming from a glorious rich, cultural past, must work towards the future to maintain our education goals and heritage for the good of the order, our children and grandchildren."