In high school, Jill Cullis decided she wanted to be a lawyer. Luckily for her future students, things didn’t quite turn out as planned. “In the middle of college,” Jill says, “I took teaching classes, ‘just in case’ I did not get into law school. Once I was embedded in the teaching classes I realized it was truly my calling and my passion.”
33 years later, Jill still teaches U.S. History, Law, and Civics at Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado where she takes a very experiential approach to teaching. A few years ago, the school was awarded a grant that enabled them to take nearly the entire sophomore class on a field trip to a historic location in Southern Colorado. The students got to experience the area of the Ludlow Massacre and hear from a historian of the era.
Jill’s favorite BRI resource is Heroes and Villains because “because I am able to teach kids ‘soft skills’ of integrity, respect, justice, etc. that they do not get in other classes.”
One of the proudest moments in her teaching career was when Gateway High was selected to have the Colorado Supreme Court sit en banc and hear oral arguments for one civil case and one criminal case. “We had over a quarter of our students participate in the preparation and hearing of the cases.”
Given all of this, it’s not surprising that her second proudest moment is anytime her students tell her that they plan to go into law or political science because of her classes.