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Lawyer Tillman (NTHS '11) - Paraeducator

Lawyer Tillman sitting in a chairWhile he may have been a jock in high school, North Thurston High School alumni Lawyer Tillman pursued a different passion when he returned to his alma mater. After playing football at Auburn University, Tillman now works as a paraeducator and coach with the goal of becoming a teacher.

Tillman graduated in 2011 and attended Southern Oregon University for one year before transferring to Auburn University. Tillman’s call to football was supported by his athleticism during his years at North Thurston High School as a three sport athlete -- football, track and field, and wrestling.

“Outside of sports I was the popular guy who hung out with the ‘cool kids’,” said Tillman. “But I would also stop to talk to the shy kid if I noticed they weren’t being included.”

He was also not afraid to be frankly honest with some of his peers. He shares a story about one romantic couple and how he set them straight.

“Almost daily, this couple would borderline make out in front of the window of my history class. Neither student was in my history class, the window just seemed like a good spot to say their goodbyes. After hearing my history teacher, Ms. Niles, complain daily, I decided I’d try to get them to stop. Calmly I walked outside as they were hugging and joined in on their hug. As they looked up at me, very confused, I asked if they could stop kissing in front of the window because my teacher was pretty grossed out about it. It was a successful attempt; Ms. Niles and I still laugh about it.”

During his time at North Thurston, Tillman found himself surrounded by the support of his teachers. “Ms. Rowell was one of the more inspirational teachers I had,” said Tillman. “She believed in me for more than just my athletic ability, and also got me to believe in myself as a leader.”

Tillman was given encouragement outside the classroom as well. “My wrestling coach, Mr. Gentry, got me to push myself to limits I didn’t know I was capable of,” said Tillman.

Although Tillman is no longer a school athlete, he returned to his home school to work as a paraeducator.

“As a paraeducator, I help make class go smoothly. [However] I can help the teacher out, I am there to help,” said Tillman. Although Tillman offers support in several subject areas such as Math and English Language Arts, he can also offer social/emotional support for a student. “Sometimes a student might just need to take a walk to clear their mind,” said Tillman. Whatever the need, I am there to help fill it.”

He said what he likes most about the job is building relationships with the students. “With few males working in education, I think it is also great being a positive male role model for students who might not have a positive male role model in their life.”

When asked about what advice he could give to students who may wish to follow in a similar path, Tillman encourages students to work hard.

“Put time and effort into things that matter most to you. Want to get good grades? Put time into your homework, ask your teachers for help. Want to get better at a sport? Do 15 minutes of extra work before and after practice,” said Tillman. Work on a skill in your free time. Time is something that we all take for granted. Stay focused on your goals, enjoy the moment and stay true to yourself!”

By Community Relations Intern: Clara Hall (Timberline c/o 2020)