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'Oh my God, Paul is in Winston-Salem.' McCartney, Beatles have inspired local principal

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Ask anyone who works at Moore Elementary School about Principal Sean Gaillard’s love of the Beatles, and they’ll shake their heads.

“Don’t get him started,” one staff member said.

Gaillard may well be floating on excitement through the hallways of Moore on Friday. On Saturday, he, his wife, Deb, and two daughters, Emily and Rachel, are set to see one of those Beatles, Paul McCartney, at Truist Field.

It will be Gaillard’s eighth time seeing McCartney.

Gaillard was all but set not to see McCartney on this tour until he heard that one of those stops was going to be at Truist Field.

Sean Gaillard

Moore Elementary Principal Sean Gaillard wrote “The Pepper Effect,” a book that promotes using creativity and innovation in the classroom, the way the Beatles did in the studio while making “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

“I told my wife, ‘We have a civic obligation to go. This is not a drill. We’re going. We are going.’ So yeah, as I soon as I heard, I stopped in my tracks. Oh my God, Paul is in Winston-Salem,” Gaillard said.

Gaillard is a Beatles fanatic, his love of the band showing up in conversations with students and staff members.

“He references them every chance he can,” said Barry Hill, an instructional facilitator at Moore.

Four years ago, while working as a principal at a Lexington Middle School, Gaillard wrote “The Pepper Effect,” a book that promotes using creativity and innovation in the classroom, just as the Beatles did in the studio while making their landmark album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

For example, Gaillard referred to the way McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison rallied around Ringo Starr as he struggled to hit the high notes in the song “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

“It’s believing in your collaborators,” Gaillard said.

Though Gaillard is pretty sure the book hasn’t wound up in the hands of McCartney or Starr, the only surviving Beatles, he’s gotten positive feedback from educators around the world.

One school in Canada even based a play on the book.

The book also landed him a spot on the Beatles Channel on SiriusXM, where he was asked his favorite four Beatles songs. For the record, they are “Free as a Bird,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “Dear Prudence” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

At school, Gaillard keeps copies of two of McCartney’s children’s books, “Hey Grandude!” and “Grandude’s Green Submarine.”

“It’s my excuse to talk to the kids about the Beatles,” Gaillard said.

Born on May 8, 1970, a date that Gaillard points out is the same day “Let It Be” was released, Gaillard became a Beatles fan while a student at St Leo’s School.

A teacher chastised him for using bad language, and she told him: “Mr. Galliard, try to watch your language and listen to something articulate and profound like the Beatles.”

Later, as a teacher in the local school system, Gaillard taught poetry using Beatles’ songs including “Norwegian Wood” and “Penny Lane.”

About 10 years ago, he and his family traveled to Washington D.C., to see McCartney. Gaillard was staked out outside the stadium, hoping to see McCartney and his entourage’s arrival. Not far away, a throng of Beatles’ fanatics were standing in anticipation.

“Out of the corner of my eye, I see this black SUV about 20 yards away. The passenger window comes down and a man sticks his head out. It’s Paul McCartney, and he does the Beatles ‘Woooooo!’ I lock eyes on him, and he locks eye on me, and I go, ‘It’s Paul! Oh my God! The Beatlemania horde hears me and starts running,” Gaillard recalled.

Before McCartney’s driver zoomed away from the rushing crowd, McCartney shot Gaillard a look.

“He gave me this look like, ‘We could’ve had a moment. Like dad saying, ‘You blew it.’ So I do tell people, we had a human exchange,” Gaillard said with a laugh. “Where I come from, that means you met someone.”

Gaillard plans to be decked up in Beatles gear on Friday. He’s likely to sing a Beatles song during morning announcements.

“I’ve already alerted the staff that I’ll be out of my head,” he said.

336-727-7420

@lisaodonnellWSJ

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