Throughout nearly 40 years working for Detroit Public Schools, Joyce Gallant relished her role teaching youths and pushing other teachers to further their progress.
“She was the consummate educator,” said Kathleen Smith, a former associate superintendent in the district. “She was just magnificent.”
Mrs. Gallant died Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, after battling Alzheimer’s disease. She was 88.
The longtime instructor spent most of her career at Chaney Elementary. Years after they sat in her classroom, pupils recalled Mrs. Gallant’s caring approach.
“She was actually one who cared about the students and if there was a disruption, would come out, talk to them and let them know how their behavior was unwarranted,” said Linda Moragne, a student who went on to earn a teaching certificate. “She was very thorough and she always made sure that children knew how to respect each other. That was her thing.”
Mrs. Gallant also inspired colleagues with her dedication. Once, Smith, a former language arts supervisor, observed her instructing. Afterward, she asked the school professional about her goals.
“She said her objective was to help other teachers understand the meaning of teaching for learning,” Smith recalled. “Joyce knew what that meant — a day’s growth for a day’s instruction. I just was simply impressed by the depth and breadth of those words. I used them throughout my career.”
That precision led to promotions. Mrs. Gallant eventually became an assistant principal at Williams Elementary and principal of McMillan Elementary, relatives and associates said.
Her career also included working as a reading/language arts coordinator and training student teachers, Smith said. “She stood out and … got there because she did the work in the field with her colleagues.”
Besides those roles, Mrs. Gallant hosted a district TV program, “Reading Road Quiz,” as well as a radio show “Skeleton’s Closet,” according to her family and colleagues.
“She always had an extreme desire for the well-being of children and to provide services and knowledge,” said her cousin, Teola Hunter, a former state representative and Wayne County clerk.
Born April 1, 1929, Joyce Mariel Cranon grew up in Ohio and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Toledo.
After graduation, she taught in Toledo Public Schools.
While visiting Idlewild, Michigan with friends in July 1955, she met Wadye Gallant. They wed that fall and settled in Detroit.
There, Mrs. Gallant joined Hartford Avenue Baptist Church and became involved in bridge and social clubs.
While working full time in the 1970s, Mrs. Gallant earned a master’s degree in learning disabilities from the University of Detroit and cared for her husband, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He later died.
“She was able to juggle a lot,” said her daughter, Trudy Gallant-Stokes.
After retiring in 1989, Mrs. Gallant stayed busy, chairing a Michigan AARP Health and Long-Term Care Action Team and testifying at Sen. Donald Riegle’s hearing on health care in 1994.
She also volunteered as a docent at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, worked as an usher at the Detroit Opera House and was active with a local chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., participating in storytelling events for children, her daughter said. “She was a very outgoing person. You met her once and were instant friends.”
Travel was another hobby: she crossed the globe to visit Spain, London, Morocco and Venezuela.
“Joyce was excited about going on trips and had the gift of gab,” Hunter said. “She was a talker and could certainly attract your attention describing where she went.”
Mrs. Gallant also delighted in connecting with her grandchildren and indulging another passion: shopping. “She was very much a fashion plate,” her daughter said. “It was wonderful that she had four granddaughters to dress and look cute.”
Despite health issues in the last decade, Mrs. Gallant remained upbeat and until recently still loved dancing and listening to music.
“She was not a complainer,” Hunter said. “She was one who could balance her fears and her gifts in life.”
Besides her daughter and cousin, other survivors include a son, Toby; daughter-in-law Gina; son-in-law Chuck Stokes, WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) editorial director; four grandchildren; a niece, Joyce Cranon Beard; cousins Lois Cranon Tucker and JoAnn Cranon Smith; and a godson, Erik Nance.
Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, 18700 James Couzens Freeway, Detroit.
Memorials may be made to the Joyce Gallant Literacy Fund within the Minerva Education and Development Fund at MEDF, P.O. Box 21655, Detroit, MI 48221 or at www.medf.net.