Not long after posting pictures of her newborn son to Facebook, Sara Galicki was surprised by a message from Merzy Eisenberg, a former teacher at the Milwaukee Jewish Day School in Fox Point.
“She was never my direct teacher, but she messaged me and she asked for my address because she wanted to send me a present for my son,” Galicki said. “And I just got a book in the mail from her.”
When Galicki asked for Eisenberg’s address to send a thank you note and some photos of her husband reading the book, Eisenberg said it wasn’t necessary.
“She said, ‘I don’t need a thank you, I just like knowing that you’re enjoying your life,” recalled Galicki. “This is a teacher from my grade school, and she didn’t directly teach me. It’s just an amazing community, it really is.”
It was at MJDS that Galicki, 29, developed this strong sense of community along with close friendships, both of which would follow her into high school, college and her career. Now married with a newborn son, Galicki has come a long way from her own MJDS graduation in 2002. With a degree and plans to become a video editor, Galicki left Indiana University Bloomington in 2009 and moved to Chicago to find work.
“I did a bunch of odd jobs, you know dog walking, all that.”
But when she wasn’t able to find a stable job in Chicago, Galicki took advice from her friends and decided to move to New York City.
“I had booked a flight the day before it flew out. I went to UPS and I boxed up all of my stuff. I had like 20 boxes and I told my parents, ‘I don’t know where I’m going yet, everything’s just boxed up. As soon as I figure out where I’m going to live, I’ll send you an address and just send me these boxes.’”
Luckily, Galicki was able to stay with a friend’s grandmother in Brooklyn. Two weeks into an internship, she was hired at a television production company called Jarrett Creative, where she worked on various reality shows like “Celebrity Ghost Stories,” and “The Haunting of…” Though she had stable work, Galicki wanted to continue to network, so she submitted her resume to NBC.
“A couple months later they called me and said that my resume matched one of their job descriptions and asked me to come in to interview.” Soon after, she got the job.
Galicki worked at NBC for two and a half years as a postproduction supervisor for “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” eventually moving on to reality TV work for the shows “Alone” and “Forged in Fire,” both of which air on the History Channel.
But even with a growing family and a fast-paced career in television far from Milwaukee, she can easily remember her eighth grade class at MJDS.
“Everyone was so close, you know, the entire grade. Everyone was invited to everybody’s birthday party. I mean, two of my grade school friends from MJDS were my bridesmaids in my wedding,” Galicki recalled.
Though she had moved far from Milwaukee, Galicki points to the strong relationships that she developed at MJDS as setting the foundation for her to pursue her interests, even if that meant leaving the area.
“Learning how to make friends in that environment had taught me that I can leave a situation or environment and make new friends in another place,” she said. “It gave me the courage to do things I wanted to do because I knew I could always count on that support system from my friends and that I could always make new friends.”
It was also teachers’ focus on MJDS students that contributed to her strong foundation. Even as she struggled with reading as a young student, Galicki always felt supported.
“We got so much attention from the teachers,” she said. “I didn’t feel bad about myself and they never made me feel uncomfortable. I just felt very prepared for whatever was next.”
Thinking of her newborn son, Galicki hopes others will continue to keep the close-knit community she experienced at MJDS alive and well for future children.
“I want to encourage people to continue Jewish education, teaching their children, keeping that community because it is a very special thing,” she said.