Skip To Main Content

Welcome (and Welcome Back) to McGillis!

Back to News and Events

by Melinda Kaufman, Lower School Director and Tim Campbell, Middle School Director


Please join us in welcoming Jackson Bellaimey, Cathleen Wilkes, Lisa Williams, to our kehilah


Jackson Bellaimey, Middle School Spanish Teacher 


Please welcome Jackson Bellaimey as our new Middle School Spanish teacher! Jackson is a Teach For America Minneapolis alumnus and has been teaching in a Spanish immersion program locally for the past five years. He has a BA in Spanish and Race & Ethnic Studies from Whitman College, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching from Hamline University. In addition to his classroom teaching experience, he has worked in outdoor education, has coached the Lego League team, and served as a faculty representative for his former school leadership team. Jackson is thrilled to be joining our community.

What are you looking forward to most about teaching at The McGillis School?

¡Saludos a todos! It is such a privilege to be joining McGillis this year as the Middle School Spanish teacher — I have already felt so welcomed. Language plays such a crucial role in building and creating connections between communities and individuals. I can’t wait to join the McGillis family, start conversations, and build relationships that make our world feel a little more close-knit. I’m most excited to get to know students and families like this one of a kind school year kicks off. 

What would you like the McGillis community to know about you? 

I grew up in Minneapolis, started learning Spanish in 6th grade, and ever since, it’s taken me on some amazing adventures; I played on a university volleyball team in Mendoza, Argentina while studying abroad; my wife, Mackenzie, and I lived in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala for a year working for a community development nonprofit; I once accidentally ended up in a cooking class in northern Spain that was entirely devoted to seafood (not my favorite, unfortunately), but de-inked the squid, brined the anchovies and tried everything anyway. Throughout it all, Spanish opened up to me so many great conversations and friendships. I’ve been teaching Spanish in some capacity since 2012 and I’ve loved every minute of it. 

What do you do when you’re not teaching? 

Since moving to Salt Lake, my wife and I have spent as much time as possible in the outdoors. We try our best to tire out Hank, our 4-year-old vizsla, with hikes, mountain bike rides, cross country skiing, or runs. Occasionally we succeed. 


Cathleen Wilkes, Grade 2 Teacher 

Cathleen Wilkes is joining our 2nd grade teaching team! Cathleen taught K-3 Science at McGillis a few years ago and she's been the Director at CCNS (Community Cooperative Nursery School) for the last three years. She is wanting to get back into the classroom and is happy to return to McGillis. Prior to her first stint with us, she taught upper elementary at Norfolk Academy and The Potomac School, both independent schools on the east coast.  Her kindergarten daughter, Willoughby, will also be joining us this Fall, and we are so excited to welcome them (back) to our community!

What are you looking forward to most about your return to The McGillis School?

The thing I am most looking forward to is returning to my roots as a classroom teacher and building a learning community with my students. I really enjoy those shared moments when we get to laugh together, enjoy a read-aloud together, and grow together as both learners and humans. I am also excited to rejoin such a fun group of educators.

What would you like the McGillis community to know about you?

I believe in experiential learning and educating the whole child. I love baseball and am a Washington Nationals fan. I lived there in 2005 when they returned to the city, taught myself to keep score, and really began to get into the sport. I am originally from the DC area but love living in Utah now because it challenges me to get outside and enjoy new adventures with my family. Most weekends we can be found hiking or skiing. I also love playing board games with my family. 


Lisa Williams, Grade 1 Teaching Assistant 

Lisa Williams is rejoining the Lower School and our 1st-grade teaching team and we are thrilled to welcome her back to our community! Lisa is a Utah native and the mother of two amazing adult-aged children, an adorable puppy, Oliver, and partner to Jay. Lisa has enjoyed spending most of her adult life working with young children as a nanny, preschool teacher, substitute teacher, and volunteer. When not spending time at their cabin in Torrey Utah, Lisa loves to cook, go for walks and hikes and travel in her camper trailer. 

What are you looking forward to the most about your return to The McGillis School? 

I am looking forward to returning to McGillis because now more than ever it feels important for me to be part of this community and the values which guide our community.

What would you like the McGillis community to know about you?

Something to know about me - I love food! During quarantine, the activity that brought me the most joy was planning and making elaborate meals with my family.  We made pizzas in our outdoor oven, rolled our own sushi, baked bread, made Filipino food, and more. It definitely made the time home more fun!


When you see these new and familiar faces in the halls or on Zoom, please welcome them to the McGillis community!