School District 60 Votes: Meet Nicole Gilliss

Nicole Gilliss is a former Hudson's Hope councillor who was elected trustee by acclamation and will represent Area 3, which includes the District of Hudson’s Hope, Upper Cache, Tsay Keh Dene Nation, and Williston Lake.

Alaska Highway News has sent out a questionnaire to all candidates who filed for a seat on the board, asking them about their experience and education priorities, how they'd handle teacher negotiations, improve teacher recruitment and retention, balance rising enrolment with the need for more schools and more.

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Responses are being published as they are received. The answers below have been edited for spelling and grammar only.  

Name: Nicole Gilliss

Age: 40

Occupation: Realtor

Highest level of education completed: Technical Diploma NAIT

1. Why did you decide to run for trustee?

I like being a part of decision making. I like to get all the information and then follow through with a decision. I have two school-aged children and I feel our school board’s importance is overlooked sometimes, but the board makes big, important decisions that affect my children and your children.

2. What experience and skills would you bring to the board of education?

I was a member of council in Hudson’s Hope for six years, so I do have governance experience. I learned a lot from my time serving on local government.

3. What would be your top education priorities if elected, and why?

Fort St. John has seen so much growth and is likely about to see way more, we need more space for educators and students. We also need to offer students as many opportunities as possible both academically as well as through arts programming, music, etc.

4. What approach will you take with teacher contract negotiations in 2019?

My first approach will to listen. As I will be new to the board, I will have lots to learn. So, I will listen more then I speak. But I can only promise that for the first little bit. LOL.

5. What can the district do to improve teacher recruitment and retention?

We as a school district can collaborate with the city and other municipalities to co-ordinate recruitment efforts. Our cities and towns must be attractive to teachers and their spouses and their children in order to get them here and keep them here.

6. What can the district do to increase professional development opportunities for teachers and staff?

Again, this is a question I cannot answer yet. I will first have to hear where the deficiencies are around professional development and then move forward with solutions. I will need to again, listen. And I would want to hear this information from the teachers and staff themselves, as they will know best.

7. What role do independent schools play in the education system?

Please see note below.

8. What can the district do to balance class size and composition rules, rising enrolment, and the need for new schools?

Squeaky wheel gets the grease, so as our class sizes rise and the need for new schools and portables presents itself, we, as the board must squeak! Advocate as often and as effectively with the provincial government as we can.

9. What can the district do to improve aboriginal graduation rates?

I think engaging in discussion with the local First Nation band leaders and asking them what some of the factors affecting their school age members are that are preventing them from graduating. Is it distance to school? Is it bussing? Is it a lack of culturally interesting curriculum?

10. What is your philosophy on special education, and how can graduation rates be improved?

Please see note below.

11. What programs or services do you think the district can spend more on?

Please see note below.

12. What programs or services do you think the district can spend less on?

Please see note below.

Note: Questions 7, 10, 11, 12 I have not answered as I do not have enough information to make good comments.

Finish this sentence: Students today are…

... needing more than students of previous generations.

What were your favorite subjects in school?

Biology, law, social studies

Which teacher had the most impact on you and why?

Mrs. Stellmach, Grade 3, Robert Ogilvie. She was so kind, and the way she read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to us as a class has never left me.

Also Mme. Plotnikow Grade 8-10 Bert Bowes French Immersion. She co-ordinated a three-week trip to France for us in Grade 10. But, the planning, work, fundraising and excitement began in Grade 8. A teacher does not have to do trips, she went above and beyond, and that trip is one of my life’s fondest memories.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?

If you want to make a difference, get involved!!

Want to know more about Nicole Gilliss? Call her at 250-783-1076.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at

© Copyright Alaska Highway News


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