2016-11-19 / The Bullhorn

Phillip Gillis joins RCS

Sara Coates
Bullhorn Report er

Phillip Gillis poses with a portion of his wall of chaos, which is a wall of posters that he hopes will allow others to get an idea of his character. 
Photo by Madison Fuller Phillip Gillis poses with a portion of his wall of chaos, which is a wall of posters that he hopes will allow others to get an idea of his character. Photo by Madison Fuller Roxboro Community School (RCS) welcomed Phillip Gillis to its faculty this fall. Gillis, who is a Person High School (PHS) graduate, previously taught at PHS for 14 years.

“I did not start off wanting to be a teacher,” Gillis said, “In high school, I had an amazing psychology teacher, so I started out as a psychology major at Appalachian State University. After one class, I decided that wasn’t for me.”

During Gillis’s sophomore year at Appalachian, he was still visiting his freshman counselor, who encouraged him to then pick a major.

Gillis, who has a love for drafting because of many hours spent working in his parents’ hardware store, but also has a love for writing, had a hard time making the decision of what to do with his life.

“I struggled to choose a major,” said Gillis, “I didn’t want my parents to think I had been wasting my time or their money.”

Gillis eventually settled on lateral entry, an English degree that allowed him to go straight into teaching and earn his teaching degree during his first two years. He graduated with a four-year degree.

“However,” Gillis said, “after my first year of teaching, I wanted to quit, so I opened a card shop.”

Gillis referred to himself as, “the nerd that married the girl [he] dated in high school.”

Of his wife Beth, he said, “We started dating when I was in the 11th grade and she was in 10th. Now we have two beautifully wonderful children, Darby Ella, who is in the third grade, and Jack Jack, who is in kindergarten.”

According to Gillis, a thousand different reasons made him come to RCS.

“I wanted the opportunity to teach drafting and creative writing,” said Gillis, “I have two drafting classes, two English classes, and one creative writing class, so I am challenged throughout the entire day.”

Gillis said that everyone at RCS had been “incredibly and terribly polite.”

“I can never tell how people are going to take me because, well, look at me,” Gillis, who stands inches above most and has a lot of unruly hair, continued, “but everyone has been great.”

Gillis said an interesting aspect of his RCS experience has been interacting with middle school students, which he hasn’t done since his own time in middle grades.

“I think it is hilarious because they’re always running everywhere, and they constantly run into me,” Gillis continued, “I also have a little cousin in middle school, so when he sees me, we wave at each other, and all of his friends look at him like, ‘oh my gosh, you spoke to it.’ It’s great though, watching the tiny people being herded around.”

Gillis said that one of his favorite things about RCS is the architecture all around the building.

“It’s like, you look to the left and you see an old cotton mill, but when you turn to the right, it’s a brand new school,” said Gillis.

Another one of Gillis’s favorite things is his very own “wall of chaos,” which is a classroom wall he has filled with posters that allow others to get an idea of who he is.

“My posters have followed me everywhere,” he said. “Actually, my Beatles poster even has pieces of sheetrock from my childhood bedroom.

“Let me tell you something terrifying about RCS though,” Gillis continued, “I am terrified of ghosts and snakes. Yes, I am large, but I have a deadly fear, and people have been tormenting me to no end [with stories of students encountering ghosts and snakes in the past.]”

Another reason Gillis decided to come to RCS this year was so that he could run for the Person County Board of Education, which he could not do while being employed at PHS.

Gillis, who earlier this month was elected to the school board said, “First of all, running for school board is something I have been thinking about for two or three years. When it comes down to it, I think that I can offer a different perspective because I didn’t wait until I was out of education to run, like most do. I get to see a different side of things because I am in the classroom all day, and after school, I go straight to school board meetings.”

Gillis described his campaign as overall “interesting,” adding that he quickly picked up on all of the political ropes.

“Really though, I just love my county. My dedication will always be to teaching and the people of Person County first,” he said.

“Now, people tell me I do a decent job [of teaching], and I don’t mind it. I would say though that I am a different breed of teaching. The best way to figure me out would be to talk to my previous students and their parents,” Gillis concluded.

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