After being “recruited” to move to Boulder City a dozen years ago by Bob and Linda Faiss, one of the major reasons why my wife, Becky, and I made the decision to move was for the schools. And we’ve never regretted it. Our three children got remarkable educations that we don’t believe is possible in any other region of Clark County.
We spent our first few years in Nevada in Las Vegas, and given our roots on the East Coast, the Vegas schools were mediocre at best.
One of the main reasons we decided to move to Boulder City was the schools. A small, family-friendly town with small schools meant our kids wouldn’t just be a number. We soon saw the incredible passion and dedication the vast majority of these small-town teachers brought to their jobs. The teachers in Boulder City schools made a big difference in the lives of our children at every level — and of many other children that we’ve interacted with over the years.
The teachers from grades one through eight are very special. In those formative years, teachers who combine empathy with discipline and passion are unique and we had quite a few of them in those three schools. But we’ve been mostly impressed with the high school teachers. The time and effort they dedicate to the students is very impressive.
Usually, once children reach the high school years, the personal relationships they have with teachers is over and done with — not in Boulder City. These teachers, as with the elementary and junior high teachers, have very special relationships with the kids. Some of the teachers who’ve made a lasting impression on our family teach history, math, student government, English, science and more. Even the administrators, who are not always very popular with the students, were excellent and understanding.
We purposely haven’t mentioned any names because we don’t want to elevate one teacher or administrator above another— and we’d surely leave out someone important. They all have special traits, but the one we had the most interaction with over the years was James Gillette, the band and music teacher. Over the past eight years all three of our children — Eric, Shannon and Jack — were in the band and affiliated groups.
In the big high schools in Vegas, there usually are separate teachers for band, orchestra, choir, music history, guard, jazz band and other musical disciplines. Boulder City has one music teacher: Gillette, who has at times assumed every one of those jobs. He’ll be the first one to tell you he couldn’t do it by himself, always crediting his assistant, his wife, BCHS administration and the band parents; but we’ve always been impressed with the extra time and effort he puts in.
Every year, he directs the marching band in the fall, which generally means at least five football Friday nights and two months of Saturdays for band competitions. Then there’s “Festival” where the band competes on many levels. Small School, a collection of superior musicians from, yes, small schools across the state, gather, usually in Northern Nevada, for a weekend. (Why can’t Boulder City host this competition in our spectacular new theater?) Not to mention the Christmas parade, and other events where the band appears. And of course “early bird” band class that start every day at 7 a.m.
But more than just his dedication, he educates his students on the various styles of music, opening their eyes to classical music, pop music, jazz, Broadway, and some of the more obscure musical genres like South African choral music and reggae.
Most of his students don’t pursue a musical career. While Eric and Shannon have moved on from band, others become engaged for life. Jack has an incredible passion for music, playing several instruments. He has become an excellent French horn player and will pursue a major in music at UNLV.
While there are many people that influenced that decision, we give some major kudos to Gillette, who clearly played a big role in Jack’s choice.
To all the teachers at Boulder City High School, Garrett Junior High School, and King and Mitchell Elementary schools, thank you for providing our kids with the basics that will make them successful in life and especially for adding that little touch of love along the way.
Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, the principal trade publication for the casino industry, and is a 10-plus-year resident of Boulder City.