Ms. Gillissen

Back to Article
Back to Article

Ms. Gillissen

Ms. Gillissen and her Drama 2 students.

Ms. Gillissen and her Drama 2 students.

Photo Courtesy of Madasen Brown

Ms. Gillissen and her Drama 2 students.

Photo Courtesy of Madasen Brown

Photo Courtesy of Madasen Brown

Ms. Gillissen and her Drama 2 students.

Madasen Brown, Sandpaper Staff

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

A young teacher that is inspired and fascinated by the art of Drama spreads it with young aspiring students that attend Antelope Valley High School. She stands in front of a classroom teaching and demonstrating different ways to perform and express themselves in the way of art. Ms.Gillissen has been a teacher for four years and her first teaching job was at Antelope Valley High School. A.V. gave her the opportunity to start a drama program for young students on campus, which has been a huge success.

When asking various students about Ms.Gillissen, they go on to express that she truly cares about her students and she takes any extra time she has and puts it into the drama club. She is always super busy with grading papers, teaching students, and putting on productions but, she will stop what she is doing and help you with anything you need. Ms.Gillissen is a well-known teacher around campus and many students love being in her class.

What made you pursue your career in drama?

I was the youngest out of my family and always in the shadows of my siblings. In high school, I was a shy little girl and drama class was an outlet for me to be my own person and get out of my box. During the year I grew a passion for the art and ever since then it has been a part of me.

Who influenced you to come to a high school and teach the art to students?

My mom was a teacher growing up which gave me a little inspiration. My high school teachers also gave me the inspiration to become a teacher but, my drama teacher gave me the most. I did not start off teaching drama directly at first, I was only teaching English. A.V. gave me the opportunity to start a drama program for the students and ever since then I have been teaching the art.

How does being one of the young aged teachers affect you? Good or Bad

Being one of the younger aged teachers helps me connect with my students on their level. It also helps me by being energetic for the whole day, putting my students in a good mood as well. The negative side of being a younger aged teacher is that some students might not take me seriously as they should. Another downfall is that my co-workers may not think I am as experienced as them in the work field.

What do you have planned for the drama program at A.V.?

I want to build a legacy, a program that can be carried on even after I leave A.V. This year I have five planned performances, with Charlie Brown Christmas being the next one coming up. One of my main goals is to always be in production and to create a stable place to perform at A.V.

Do you believe that there is real talent at this school?

Absolutely! A.V.’s students are super talented when it comes to doing many things. A.V. has a bad reputation because we are a “ bad or ghetto school”, which is not true. Our students hold their own when doing what they love and aspire to do.

How do you go about choosing a student for a position for a character in a production?
Casting is the hardest part of the production, I never want to disappoint any student who does not get the part. When picking a student it is more than just looking for who is better for the part. I pick a student that will be committed, reliable, who can follow directions, a good/faster learner, and also has good grades.

What has drama done for you personally?
Drama changed my life as I said earlier my freshman year, I was a shy little girl. Drama also runs in my family, my sister and brother, were into the program in high school as well. I met my best friend, which is one of my main support systems during school and now after school. Drama opened my mind to different aspects of life.

Can you explain to me your process for putting together a production?

I pick a script/show that I am passionate about and that is going to be enjoyable for the students and I. Then it goes to casting and picking the actors to be in the production. Next is a table read, which is where the actors sit at a table and read their parts in the script aloud. The actors and the students helping with the production go through the rehearsal process. We have a tech week where we add the lighting and sounds for the production. Then it comes down to the final week(s) and I give it away to my students, who do everything and I assist when they need the extra help.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a drama teacher?

For me, there is a couple of challenging aspects but all are things that I am capable of overcoming, which I have. In a nutshell, teaching is the most challenging part, trying to connect with my students so they are able to learn is my goal. Also, finding a way to get students to get connected with their inner child, we all care too much about what people think. When it comes to directing it is when my cast is absent, it makes things a little more difficult.

What do you believe that drama does for young aspiring students?

I believe drama gives the students a safe place to be a weirdo and let them be who they are without any judgment. In high school, students look at other students, funny, for being different and in Drama being different is the best thing for you. It also helps students break out their comfort zone and lets them be free and true to themselves.