Scott Gallus faces a two-fold task as hvac instructor at Prosser Career Academy on Chicago’s West Side.

First, he presents the industry in a favorable light to 8th and 9th graders so they will opt to enter the hvacr program at Prosser. Then he works with 10th, 11th, and 12th graders to provide them enough training so they can continue in a post-secondary school, join a contracting or wholesaler company, or perhaps plug into the apprenticeship program of a union.

He has been doing that so well, he has been named one of two runners-up in the national Best Instructor contest sponsored by The News.

“I try to help students get a positive image of the industry,” he remarked during a late-August interview in his lab, where eight residential furnaces and air conditioners awaited the arrival of students the next day for the start of the school year.

Gallus mixes textbook study and hands-on training with talks about opportunities in the industry. For example, he talks about how those who stick with it could eventually end up starting a business.

“Then if you do two installations a week [of residential hvac], you could clear $2,000 per week. If you work 50 weeks a year, that’s $100,000. That sounds like good money.”

Also, past graduates of the program return to give talks to current students about possibilities in the industry.

The Value of Work

Prosser Career Academy is part of the Chicago public school system. Each year it is part of a career fair for 8th grade students and their parents. With a mixture of traditional high school courses, potential Prosser students choose vocational training in one of 14 trades. This year more than 3,000 applications were submitted; 440 were accepted.

“Most parents are blue collar workers. They know the value of work. They know if you work 40 hours a week, you can do fine,” he said.

Gallus knows the value of education and work. His dad, Stanley F. Gallus, was an educator at Washburne Trade School, one of the top trade schools in the country in its day. Scott Gallus graduated from Washburne in 1978 and soon after started teaching at night at a local community college.

By day he worked at a variety of Chicago-area contractors “learning all I could” about everything from window air conditioners to rooftop units to refrigeration.

For a number of years, he was assistant chief engineer at an area hotel before coming to Prosser as a full-time instructor in 1984. Even now he continues to do some hvacr work at night. During the summer, he works for an area contractor under a stipend program from the Chicago Board of Education.

Bringing students into the real world remains an important part of Gallus’ effort. Top students are able to take college-level hvacr courses at Triton Community College, with tuition and tools (which they can keep) paid for by the Board of Education.

Gallus works with contractors putting potentially good employees into service and installation work. All students become Refrigeration Service Engineers Society members. Before graduation, students earn their universal refrigerant usage certification and other industry certifications.

Publication date: 09/25/2000