Alumni Profile: Matthew Galiani

When Matthew Galiani came to Hill School as an eighth grader, he knew in the first week that it would be a different experience from his previous school experiences. Matt had struggled with reading and written language and was pulled out of classes in middle school two or three times a week for extra instruction. As the reading and writing demands grew, so did his reluctance to go to school until his mother discovered Hill Learning Center.

With the small classes and with larger tasks broken down into manageable steps, Matt saw that “school wasn’t scary any more.” After struggling with teachers who didn’t believe in learning disabilities and who thought Matt’s mother was doing his work for him, he was excited to be in an environment where “teachers knew I really could learn. Learning went from overwhelming to step by step.” One important example of this was Matt’s being able to do his homework independently. Matt’s academic strengths are in math, and he often led the class in mastering new material. By tenth grade, he felt he “had a rhythm” and was beginning to become a serious student, and in his senior year, he felt like he was “ahead, not struggling to keep up.”

After graduating from Chapel Hill High School in 2006, Matt attended Durham Technical Community College where he earned an Associate’s degree in drafting and architecture.

Currently Matt is the owner of The Naughty Penguin Hard Cider Company. The business grew out of a combination of wanting to have his own business and doing something he enjoyed. Matt saw that the local markets were flooded with craft beer, but there was very little cider. Matt believes that his success with business plans, zoning petitions, and construction negotiations is due in large part to the skills he learned at Hill. “We learned to work with different kinds of people from all around the area. Everybody had their own challenges, and the teachers helped us accept them and work together.”

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