Long-time music teacher receives award

Thelma Gillis’ life has been dedicated to music, teaching students in the area for over 70 years. The  Saskatchewan Registered Music Teachers Association recently recognized Gillis’ hard work by awarding her with the 2015 Outstanding Teacher Achievement Award.

“I’m deeply honoured, I didn’t expect it at all and I thank the music teachers of Yorkton who nominated me.”

Born in Theodore, Sk,   Gillis got her start when her father’s parents bought a piano for the family, and everyone in the house learned to play. Gillis says that the inspiration to teach music comes from her own parents, who actively encouraged her to keep practicing, keep learning and make it her life.

“If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have pursued it.”

Gillis has been a big part of the region’s music programs, teaching in Theodore, Foam Lake and Yorkton over her career. She was a founding member of the Saskatchewan Registered Music Teachers Association’s Yorkton branch in 1985.

“We’ve got a great number of good teachers in Yorkton... They work hard, they do well and they keep it going.”

For her part, Gillis says that she keeps teaching music because it’s something she loves to do.

“I love it, I love the students, and that’s what keeps me going.”

The difference between when Gillis began teaching and today is the amount of activities for children, she says.

“The kids are so busy, sports has taken over, which is great too. Some can handle both, some can’t, but when we were growing up... There would be nothing but practice, or at least that’s what I did.”

Music has become the family business, all three of Gillis’ children pursuing music as a career. Both sons received their doctorate and are teaching in Manitoba and at the University of Saskatchewan, while her daughter taught music in the public school system in Vancouver.

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