September 06, 2019

Mini-Musings: Robert Norris Award Recipient

By Tim Campbell, Middle School Director

I often marvel at the infinite differences in the ways the human brain works from one individual to another. Everyone has a truly unique and magnificent mind, capable of remarkable things. One person in our community has made space in their brain for all-things McGillis for quite some time now.

In my relatively short time at McGillis, I’ve been in awe of this person’s capacity to carry, remember, and understand seemingly infinite bits of information at once. They see precisely how the puzzle of a school fits together, as well as the nuanced elements within. In fact, this person can largely be credited for crafting the ideas, systems, and characteristics found in the puzzle of the Middle School here at McGillis; for envisioning a complex constellation and working, thinking, tinkering, and working some more until it became visible to all. Perhaps that is why she thrives in the classroom, helping students recognize patterns and solve complex problems. And why, after 19 years of teaching, she is still committed to learning more and trying new methods, recognizing that teaching is an imperfect craft that requires near-constant revisions. Or why she is drawn to the culinary arts, mixing ingredients with precision before producing delicious treats and meals to share with others.

A few descriptors come to mind when I think of this person’s many wonderful traits. Thorough, is in the right ballpark but doesn’t quite do her work justice. Comprehensive is more accurate, especially when paired with astute. Yes, comprehensive and astute, as well as thoughtful. She is perceptive and attentive; compassionate and conscientious, all at once. In short, she is the epitome of the selfless educator.

I am only one among thousands of beneficiaries to whom this educator has given her time, energy, and care at McGillis for going on 12 years in our kehilah. In her various roles at the school, all who have crossed her path are beyond fortunate. She has thought about us, and worked tirelessly for us, and wants nothing more than for all of us to be successful. And while her mind is truly magnificent and will forever boggle me, it is clearly Jocelyn Gukeisen’s heart that has served as the compass for her great work over the years in this community.

Jocelyn, on behalf of The McGillis School community, please accept the Robert Norris Excellence in Education Award, recognizing your contributions to the education, enrichment, and wellbeing of the children and community of The McGillis School. Thank you for sharing your heart and your mind with us, and congratulations!