LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Pilar Biller

Position: Art Teacher
School: DaMonte Ranch High School
School District: Washoe County School District
City, State: Reno, NV

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Pilar Biller was nominated by her principal, Darvel Bell.

Ms. Biller was named the 2018 Nevada State Teacher of the Year.  As a result of this selection, she has had the opportunity to be a voice for teachers and students, not only throughout the state, but at various conferences nationwide.  She served as a part of the Nevada Department of Education State Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Cabinet, as well as a National Board Certified Teacher. Ms. Biller promotes art programs, education reform and communication with legislators to spread awareness about education issues. As if this were not enough, Ms. Biller is also a member of the National Coalition for Safe Schools.  In her spare time, she teaches six full art classes at Damonte Ranch High School.

Ms. Biller's passion to teach is visibly evident the minute you walk into her classroom.  Her classroom is clearly a safe environment that allows students to feel comfortable in taking risks. She has outstanding relationships with her students.  Ms. Biller not only teaches students the principles of art, but she helps them connect their work to the outside world. She is great at modeling social and emotional strategies and competencies in her daily lessons. 

In an effort to be a voice for student safety, Ms. Biller has worked closely with staff at Damonte Ranch High School to get valuable input regarding safety needs for her students. She is a strong advocate for positive change and is willing to get involved at the state level to aid in that process. 

Even with everything else going on in her career, Ms. Biller still does what is best for her students on a daily basis.

"She has been a great liaison for Damonte Ranch High School with relation to state and district expectations and the direction we are taking with the safety of our students in mind. She has taken a very proactive approach on working with students social-emotional needs while confirming that she is meeting the expectations of her content area," said Bell.

Comments (14)

Lesli Mendoza Posted over a year ago

I don’t see anyone more fitting to be awarded as life changer of the year than Ms. Biller. I had the privilege of being in her class for two whole years, and in that span I never seen a teacher so devoted to their students. She radiates encouragement, and passion. Her method of teaching is based on her students potential, how every person is able to grow, adapt, and overcome. She teaches her students that there is more than “I can’t.” Personally she has done so much for me. I always considered myself as an average student, who doesn’t particularly excel in anything. It left me to feel as if my presence in school did not matter, I was just someone trying to get by. The only redeemable quality I felt Noteworthy was art, but even with that I didn’t think much of it. Wasn’t until I met Ms. Biller, who opened my eyes to what I really have to offer, I had developed these skills I didn’t know I had; not only that she helped paved the way to elevate them. Throughout, she’s been nothing but sincere, and motivating. In all my years of being a student I never felt more recognized and heard, I have no doubt that I will use her teachings in my life. I have nothing but admiration for her, she has completely changed my life.

sonny rosenberg Posted over a year ago

I've been very lucky to have Pilar teach across the hall from me for the past few years. Pilar is an exceptional teacher in every way. Her compassion for her students and her passion for teaching is apparent to everyone who meets her. It is rare though, to find a teacher who combines such levels of compassion and passion for students and teaching with the expertise and insight into educational theory that Pilar has. Pilar is also willing to share her knowledge and practices, and possibly even more importantly, she is always willing to listen and help. There is never a shortage of "experts" willing to share advice, but few are willing to really listen and respond with other than a canned or cursory response. Pilar is a real expert, who listens carefully and responds with thoughtful insight and wisdom. What a wonderful quality! Pilar is an educational leader in the truest sense. She leads by example and by a consistent willingness to help. I can't think of another teacher that is more giving, or more deserving of praise than Pilar Biller.

Kyradela Applebach Posted over a year ago

Ms.Biller is the first person I would think of for Lifechanger of the Year. She has done so much for me and other students that go above and beyond. From my first day of her class 2 years ago I could feel the shift of her teachings. She focused on positivity and learning new things more than the skill of doing them. And when it comes to dealing with art students thats a pretty crucial thing. She taught me that its ok to struggle because each struggle was a lesson learned and a new experience. That if I ever needed help she was always there for me. And the most important things she taught me that I know for a fact I will use for my years ahead is her mindset and investigative processes. The mindset process was all about positive thinking. Instead of thinking "I can't do this" replace it with "how could I learn". Than, the investigation process is the research and learning of the idea you have. With each new challenge I faced her teachings changed the way I dealt with them and solved them. Ms.Biller changed the way I see the world, myself, and my ideas. My tiniest accomplishments that I thought were dumb and pointless she showed me how amazing they were. Honestly, if I never had the honor to meet her I'm pretty sure I would never be as mentally happy and proud of myself as I am now. It's insane how much one person has changed my life, Ms.Biller is 100% my Lifechanger of the Year.

Steven Constantino Posted over a year ago

I had the fortunate experience to work with Pilar at Vaughn Middle School. She was a teacher leader and was leaned on by administration for many things. She not only taught Art, but was also our Leadership teacher, department lead and PBIS facilitator. I had the privilege to be her evaluator for several years and observed her delivering excellent and engaging instruction to her students. Pilar is someone who intentionally seeks out professional development opportunities to improve her craft and meet her student's needs. She is kind, patient, and willing to do whatever to support her students. Class Act in and outside the classroom!!!!!

Olivia Braun Posted over a year ago

It’s hard to know what to say just because Ms. Biller has taught me so much in my 3 years of being in her class at Damonte Ranch High School. I’ve grown so much from my first day to my last. But the one thing that Ms. Biller gave me that I will take anywhere I go is the ability to persevere. The strength to take a struggle and work through it. It is far too easy to give up, and Ms. Biller has expertly demonstrated that no one will ever go anywhere if they succumb to that desire. She has shown me just how important it is to try, and fail, and try again. Being in love with a craft means that in order to learn it, you have to be willing to live through every up and down, and for giving me this priceless gift, I know I’ll forever be grateful.

John Tierney Posted over a year ago

Meeting and working with Pilar has been one of the bright points of light in my life. I met Pilar through the Nevada State Teacher of the Year (STOY) program. I was the 2016 STOY and reached out to her once she attained the title. Since she became our state representative, we have sought to create a state chapter for the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. Despite an extensive list of responsibilities, she helped spearhead the beginnings of this group of professionals in the state and currently holds the office of Vice President. In addition to her roles as STOY for Nevada and VP for NVSTOY, she has also reached out and worked with Teachers Against Child Detention and recently traveled to El Paso to add her voice to this growing problem on the border of the United States. She has been instrumental in guiding NVSTOY as well as her youth program at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno. She is a powerful force for good in the state, her community and in the educational community of the country. It is a privilege to be her colleague and she is deserving of every bit of recognition she gets for changing lives for the better.

Alex Cote Posted over a year ago

I attended Damonte Ranch High from 2013-2017, and the time that I had with Ms. Biller remains the most important time of my life. What Ms. Biller taught my class and I during the last two years of my high school experience proves more helpful to me now in my post secondary education than any other curriculum. I knew I wanted to be an animator/filmmaker for a long while, but didn’t have any structure of how to get skills that would propel me forward. Ms. Biller gave us a clear foundation with a structure and a support system worthy of any college art program. She sacrifices a tremendous amount of her personal time developing detailed rubrics that produce a clear trajectory of improvement. While in her class, I achieved more through my art which as a consequence led me from Southern California to Carnegie Hall in Manhattan. In my senior year I had a new ambition to apply to an extremely competitive animation school in Toronto called “Sheridan College” in my senior year. I was planning to take the final high school art class A.P art, but soon realized that the specific curriculum taught in that class wasn’t conducive for creating a college portfolio. Despite the district’s requirements, Ms. Biller fought for me to take a lower art class, that would help me create the art required for the portfolio. As a result of this personable advocacy, I was eventually accepted into that top college. Ms. Biller to this day stands as the most personal and greatest teacher I have ever had because of the personable relationship with every student, and the large skill set I gained from her class.

Pam Ertel, 2017 Nevada Teacher of the Year Posted over a year ago

Ms. Biller and her students would be very worthy recipients of this award. Please consider all the good this teacher does, not only for her students, but also through her students, out in the community. It's great when an organization is able to recognize and support educators, and by doing so, further their causes and promote their students. Pilar and her students would turn this award into so much more down the road. The positive outcomes would influence their school now and reach far beyond, even into future generations of students and to the wider community. Who knew one generous prize could go so far? Award Ms. Biller this award and watch the ripple effects produce life-changing results.

L. Juliana Posted over a year ago

Pilar is an extraordinary colleague. Her reach extends beyond her school and district. On several occasions, Pilar and I have collaborated on policy and advocacy issues. Her attention to detail and commitment to the improvement of educational outcomes for all students is inspiring. I highly recommend Pilar for this amazing recognition.

Leigh Metcalfe Posted over a year ago

I am so thankful to have met Pilar in variety of professional development opportunities. She is a lifelong learner who is committed to improving her teaching skills so that she can reach every student every day. I am so impressed by her thoughtful and reflective practices and blown away by the carefully planned, student-centered, and dynamic instruction she's able to offer her students. I appreciate that she is incredibly engaged learner who reflects upon the impacts of each element of instruction on her students and challenges others to think critically about how our curriculum impacts our students. Whenever I have an opportunity to work with her on planning for instruction she challenges me to think outside the box and although we have different content areas I can learn a great deal about my own instruction by conversations with her about her instruction. She is an inspirational teacher and a life-changer not only for the students she works with but also the teachers she collaborates with in a variety of settings, even outside her school site.

Pat Rowe Posted over a year ago

I met Pilar through the Nevada Teachers of the Year. She has spent hours advocating for all the students in Nevada and beyond in a quiet, kind and strong way. She is so positive in her beliefs in education and the changes that should be made and believes in the worth of all children. Pilar is a true example of what we hope all teachers should be.

Asia Bouchard Posted over a year ago

I was in Ms. Biller’s art class for my junior and senior in high school. I had just moved from California to Nevada and was nervous about being in a new school. Being in Ms. Biller’s class made me feel comfortable and more at ease. Also I didn’t think I could improve more in my art skills but she really helped me see different perspectives of art, widen my art range, and go into detail with my planning of my artwork. I still use these skills today when creating new art pieces and I’m really grateful that I had such an amazing teacher like Ms. Biller’s to teach me.

Ali Duvail Posted over a year ago

Ms. Biller has been an amazing art teacher this year. I’ve always been artistic but until this year I never really figured it out, she’s shown me so many amazing techniques that have really helped me out. Overall I think she’s a great teacher. I’m so glade that I had her this year for my first year in high school!

A'Laina Ault Posted over a year ago

Ms. Biller is not only an amazing teacher, but she is an inspiration to other teacher, as well. I have been on multiple committees with Ms. Biller, and she always contributes thoughtful insights and ideas that are not always obvious considerations. She sacrifices a massive amount of her personal time in order to be involved on multiple state committees, and her voice is on that puts the needs of students first.