Mr. Thomas Gillette has strong ties to EAST high. His father was an English teacher at EAST and both he and his brother are alumni. Mr. Gillette comically describes being a student in his father’s class as being so awkward that he often didn’t speak because he didn’t know what to call him. Mr. Gillette recalls himself being the class clown, a trait he inherited from his father. He describes him as having a sense of humor that could be described as extremely corny, while also being a disciplinarian who believed in preventing misbehavior before it appeared and addressing it effectively when it couldn’t be prevented. Mr. Gillette was studious in high school loved to read and write, participated in drama activities and soccer while at EAST. He remembers that the atmosphere at EAST was fun. The commons area was frequently the scene of rap battles and breakdancing competitions. Upon graduation, his classmates voted him Class Clown & Most Athletic. After graduating from EAST in 1986 Mr. Gillette attended Alfred University. He received an undergraduate degrees in secondary education and social studies. Mr. Gillette did not begin working at EAST right out of college. He was employed as a substitute teacher in the RCSD and also applied to work in Greece and Irondequoit. He recalls that in the early 90’s there weren’t a great many teaching vacancies in this area. He worked in this capacity for three years. In order to supplement his income he also coached in W. Irondequoit for 2 years. When a full-time teaching position opened up in the home instruction department of the RCSD, it led to him spending 10 years as an Individual Temporary Instructor. In this position Mr. Gillette would provide 2 hours of home instruction to students who were under long-term suspension. During the last three years of his employment Mr. Gillette’s caseload consisted of EAST scholars. It was during this period that a decision was made by the RCSD superintendent to discontinue the practice of using out of school suspensions. Mr. Gillette and Mr. Hughan Reid were offered an opportunity to create a brand new alternative to suspension program at EAST. EAST’s program was unique because most schools in the RCSD didn’t have an alternative to suspension policy or program. Mr. Gillette believes the crux of his job is his ability to separate his emotions from the realities of the situations that scholars face. In his opinion EAST lower school scholars are making good progress dealing with their emotions. He says a lot of scholars struggle to stay within behavioral parameters while also attempting to meet raised expectations. Mr. Gillette believes that the ISS/ATS room that also utilizes restorative justice practices provide a tool for administrators and an opportunity for scholars. He sees scholars using their time in ISS as an opportunity to rethink their choices, reevaluate the value of their individual freedom within the school setting. Teaching at his alma mater is a dream come true for Mr. Gillett- he says that entering the building at 1801 E. Main never gets old!!!
Words to live by: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain