Mrs. P Says Goodbye
Mickey Pellillo pursues her new found passion.
April 6, 2011
After 24 years of teaching at BC, Mickey Pellillo has decided to retire.
There are several reasons why a person chooses to retire, and Pellillo, an assistant professor who has been teaching English at BC since 1986, says she is retiring because she turned 50 and discovered a love for fitness and health.
“When I turned 50 years old, which was five years ago, I decided that I would be one of those people who turned 50 and did it with great enthusiasm and joy, so I started doing endurance sports,” said Pellillo. “I signed up for a triathlon, I gave myself a personal trainer for my birthday, I started running and eating healthier, and then I started taking classes here[at BC] in exercise science, at first for my personal benefit, and then I decided to do lots more endurance sports and needed to know what I was doing.”
Mickey Pellillo hard at work in her office.
Pellillo had the same personal trainer for five years, and when he moved away, he gave her a couple of his clients. She thought being a trainer was fun and really liked doing it, so she is now a personal trainer. She also got certified as a triathlon coach and started a triathlon team at the Greater Bluefield Community Center.
“In a sense, I’m not leaving teaching,” said Pellillo. “I’m just changing what I’m teaching people. I’m not going to be teaching them English; I’m going to be teaching them how to exercise properly, get fit, and eat healthy. It all kind of happened because I turned 50 years old.”
Pellillo graduated from West Virginia University in 1977 with an associate’s degree in social work. In 1987, she earned a master’s degree in English from Virginia Tech. While teaching English at BC, she earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy and an associate’s degree in exercise science and sport medicine.
Pellillo’s primary interests as an English teacher have been in writing and in tutoring writing as well as in Holocaust and Appalachian literature. She created the college's face-to-face writing center and its online writing center, which won a national award. She also runs the Writing Across the Curriculum Program, helping faculty members incorporate writing into their courses.
“I have taught mostly freshman composition, advanced writing classes, and then some really cool classes that I was either a part of creating or getting grants for, like Holocaust literature, a cross-discipline course on the Holocaust where we had art, sociology, religion, and English,” said Pellillo.
For the last ten years, Pellillo and Walter Shroyer, professor of art, have taught an interdisciplinary, online, cross-multiple-college-campus course on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail course allows students to study the art, biology, outdoor recreational opportunities, and the literature of the Appalachian Trail and then experience the trail with an overnight group hike.
“I started the Appalachian Trail online course that we have here; it has won awards and I do that with Walter Shroyer,” said Pellillo. “We got a grant from the Appalachian College Association to do that; it’s been a cool thing.”
Pellillo first came to BC in the summer of 1986, when she was finishing her graduate degree at Virginia Tech.
“The then-dean at BC called down at Virginia Tech and said, ‘We need a teacher for the summer; can you guys recommend one of your recent graduates?’ and they recommended me,” said Pellillo.
Pellillo said her teaching job is like most jobs: it has its good and bad. One particular part of her job is her favorite: the students.
“The administration junk, the committees, the policies, the changing of administration, and all that kind of stuff can be pretty yucky, so it’s always the students that kept me here,” said Pellillo. “I would get discouraged every once in a while, then I would like my students and I would say, ‘Well, you know I can put up with this a little longer because of them.’”
Being a teacher means educating the future generation, she said, and seeing a student understand a concept and succeed is rewarding.
“The most rewarding part of my job is watching when the light bulb goes off, so to speak--you know a student who’s been struggling then they have that ‘ah-ha moment’ were they’re like, ‘Oh! That’s what I’m supposed to be doing! That’s what we’ve been talking about all semester!’” said Pellillo “And students who find their way--they feel kind of lost in life or something, and then they know what they want to do--that’s the best!”
Retiring means moving on and saying goodbye, and every goodbye comes with something that will be missed, but for Pellillo, this is not the case.
“I hope I miss nothing,” said Pellillo. “I hope that I’m ready enough to move on that I won’t really miss anything specific, but I’m sure that’s not the case. The thing I won’t miss is grading! There’s no way I’m going to miss grading! I’m so excited not to have to grad papers anymore!”
And yet, before leaving BC, Pellillo added that she does have some goodbye words to share.
“The first thought that came to mind when asked to say goodbye to Bluefield College was ‘Thanks for the memories,’ said Pellillo. “A bit cliché and yet a heartfelt thought.
“I have met many wonderful people here – colleagues on campus, many of whom became dear friends – Diane and Dewayne Belcher, Walter Shroyer, Tim Crawford, Doug Minnix, Ethel Haughton, Wendy Beavers, Kelly Walls and many others, friends made through the ACA like Bob Pohlad and Carolyn Thomas and many, many students who have really touched my heart! I have traveled the world – mission trips and educational trips to places most people only get to dream of visiting. I have had the privilege to earn a religion and philosophy degree and an exercise science and sport medicine degree and to take numerous art classes while working here. Each person I have met here and each experience I have had, has helped shape me into the person I am today. For each and everyone, I am thankful beyond measure! So I honestly do say, “Thanks for the memories and for so much more!”