LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Jennifer Gillies

Position: Special Education Teacher
School: Central Kitsap High School
School District: Central Kitsap School District
City, State: Silverdale, WA

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Jennifer Gillies was nominated by a parent, Jana Hertzberg.

Gillies was a LifeChanger for Hertzberg's son Jack. Jack had a rough academic year before entering Gillies' class and soon found his feet in her classrom. Jennifer not only helped Jack get back to where he was but he started learning and growing again; something he had not done for two years. One of the reasons why this classroom works so well is because of Jennifer's leadership skills. She has cultivated a team of excellent paraprofessional educators who help her classroom thrive.  Teachers and para educators often look to her for advice, and most of her para educators work with her year after year because they respect her and love how she runs her classroom.

She is known throughout the district to be a teacher who can step in and work with the most challenging students. She does this by getting to know each child and tailors her teaching to them individually. 

"She is always positive with my son and with me even when we have issues to discuss that may not be pleasant," Hertzberg said. 

She has an excellent performance record at her school. Jack has started to like school again because of the positive and nurturing atmosphere that she has built. He feels safe and accepted in her classroom. Jennifer takes his class on outings out in the community each week. Jennifer goes out of her way to find different places for the kids to visit so they do not get bored going to the mall every week. Hertzberg's son greatly enjoys these outings. Jennifer is alway thinking outside the box about what is best for her kids. She is a woman of faith and is involved with the New Life church, which puts on a prom each year for students with disabilities. Jennifer plays an important role in making this event happen. She is deeply passionate about her job and the kids.

"Jennifer has very high moral and ethical standards. She goes out of her way to make sure all of the students feel safe and accepted in her classroom by staff and by other students. She is such a wonderful person, and I am so honored to have her as my son's teacher," Hertzberg said. "I think she would make an excellent choice for your LifeChanger of the Year award because she was a life saver for my son Jack. We were so lost regarding school for Jack until she came along. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Jennifer Gillies."

Comments (5)

Tammi Beam Posted over a year ago

I went to highschool with Jennifer and she has always put her family, friends, and anyone else she cares about first. I am also an educator and I am so glad that Jen is a special education teacher. She will make her students recognize what is possible and help them accomplish a lot in life. Way to go!

Alison Graham Posted over a year ago

Working alongside Jennifer was one of the best experiences I have had as an educator. Her passion and love for her students and their success is surpassed by none. She has changed the lives for so many families. Her outreach goes far beyond the classroom and the duties within. She is very deserving of this award. I am honored to call her my colleague.

Janet Erwin Posted over a year ago

I'm one of the neighbors of the Hertzberg's for over 7 years and I have seen a huge change in Jack since he started High School. It takes special teachers to take the time to connect with special needs kids.

Avelica Barron Posted over a year ago

I agree 100% I have worked in Jennifer's class since 2012 as a Para, and can say that I love working alongside her. I have watched her change several lives along the way. She truly loves her job and knows exactly how to cater to each student. Every student, and staff member that crosses paths with her is lucky, because she has so much knowledge and compassion. Every day working with her, I learn something new. I definitely second the nomination.

Patti Stryker Posted over a year ago

Jennifer is an amazing teacher. She has a calming presence in the classroom ( if you have ever been in a class full of boys with special needs, you know that is a must). She is kind and loving. I am one of her paras and have personally watched her change the lives of many students who had problems at previous schools. They still have a few problems but they are so much more successful