By: Amy Liao (282)
Despite being a mother, a self-proclaimed foodie, and a Philly native, Ms. Gillis juggles her role as Central’s charismatic assistant principal. Having also been a dean of students and a math and science teacher for a decade, her charm has touched hundreds of students over the years.
Gillis, who has served as Central’s assistant principal for one year now, did not originally plan to pursue education, venturing into the medical field instead. However, after about two years studying medicine at Temple University, she decided that it was not her passion, exclaiming, “I was like ‘Oh god, now what do I do?’ because I had all these credits heavily related to math and science, I literally prayed to God. And then I just heard I should teach!”
Teaching had never crossed her mind, but she found it was perfect for her because of her “caregiver type of personality.” Her love for math and science translated well to her teaching those subjects. Thus, Gillis changed her major and never regretted it, calling it “the best decision I ever made.”
After going to Cabrini College for her master’s degree, Gillis held a myriad of positions. Gillis covered climate, culture, and safety for about seven years, was a Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Union Representative, and an assistant principal at Julia De Burgos Elementary School.
After serving as assistant principal at Julia De Burgos Elementary School, Ms. Gillis came to Central to become the assistant principal students know today. Her job consists of observing teachers, providing feedback, monitoring the building, meeting with the leadership team to discuss school goals, and planning activities. Gillis also facilitates professional development, and works to improve diversity and inclusion within the school. Her favorite part of her job is working with the students, “like spinning plates at a circus,” because of the many duties that she juggles.
Even when Gillis is overwhelmed with work, she says the best part of her day is still the kids. She loves building relationships and checking in on students, and wants everyone to know that they can come over and stop by her office anytime.
Outside of being an assistant principal, she is a huge TV and movie lover – her favorite shows are The Great British Baking Show and Bridgerton. In addition, she enjoys watching sci-fi movies, spending time with her friends and family, and admittedly, going out to eat more than she should.
Her advice to the 281st graduating class? “Everyone’s going off into this new realm, but just don’t lose the you. Don’t think you have to “adult” so fast, just enjoy your youth and be the best you. Don’t be held back from your dreams because of what others are thinking. Just live because we only get one go around.”