Teacher Feature: Mr. Gillen

There are many different teachers in our school, but one in particular is a cut above the rest. Thomas Gillen has been teaching here at north for 19 years. Gillen is the theater arts teacher and the director of this fall musical as well as the play in the spring. Despite how long he’s been teaching, there are still some people who don’t know about him here at North. We asked Gillen some questions about life, fun facts, and other important (or not so much) things just to learn a little bit more about him.
What is your favorite thing about North and why? “So many things. I love the theater program I’ve created, I love the students who are willing to take a risk by being in a drama class, and I love how supportive the administration has been to the arts.”
What advice do you live by? “Ask for forgiveness, not permission”
What are some of your strong suits? “I feel that I have a calmness that isn’t typical of theater teachers. I think stereotypical theater teachers (i.e. High School Musical) are over-the-top and dramatic. I am not that way. I see this skill as helpful when things start to get crazy around showtime.”
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? “I’d like the ability to eliminate group chats from the world. Just call people…have a conversation. So many misunderstandings and drama come out of those. Hate ’em.”
If someone else who knew you very well was asked to describe you, what would they say? “He’s quiet. How is he a drama teacher?”
What’s one of your favorite pastimes, hobbies? “I enjoy hiking and camping with the fam. I like to do home improvement projects and I love video games – Borderland Series, Horizon Zero Dawn Series, and any retro Nintendo games are my favorites.”
If you were given 1,000,000 dollars what would you spend it on and why? “I have a lot of thoughts on this. Get ready for extremely practical advice. I’d pay off the rest of our mortgage, put a chunk into savings, put a good chunk into IRAs and Mutual Funds – with the goal being to live off the interest of those investments. I’d set up 529 college savings plans for my kids as well as setting up trusts for them so they will be able to start adulthood with a head start. You probably want me to write something fun, though… I’d buy a cabin on a lake somewhere.”
What’s one of your favorite on-the-job memories? “I will always remember the benefit that was organized for my family when my son was going through all his health issues. It really showed what an awesome place North High is. Unforgettable.”
Gillen is one of those teachers that is a perfect example of someone you just need to get to know. Every student who was coming out of his class that we managed to get answers from said that Gillen creates an outstanding and positive environment for his students to learn. Gillen is understanding, open, and willing to help and benefit his students in and out of the classroom. Students we spoke with that have his class have said that they wish his class was longer because of how fast it seems to go by. The foundation and organization that he manages to uphold in Drama Club, the musical, the play, and other such ventures are things that most students may never find again outside of their high school experience.