As fifth grader Neve prepared to reveal the name of East Side Elementary School’s Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week, her classmates tried to get her attention. The students wanted Neve to pick their favorite teacher, Lindsey Phillips. Neve did, and the room erupted in cheers with students excitedly leaping in the air.
Unlike the East Side students in the newsroom with Neve, Phillips, who stood with her class in the media center, didn’t understand why Neve was on the morning news. She started to clue in when she caught part of Neve’s introduction about honoring a teacher.
“My heart started thumping,” Phillips revealed. “I wasn’t quite sure until I saw my two administrators filming and pointing at me. I realized something was going on.”
Neve described Phillips as the best teacher she had ever had at East Side.
“Ms. Philips is my favorite teacher because she was always willing to help,” Neve added. “She never made me go off and do anything by myself. She was always there for me.”
Neve thinks her classmates agreed with her choice for Teacher of the Week because of how Phillips supports her students. Reflecting on her experience with her fourth grade teacher, Neve explained what made her teacher so special.
“She always had a smile,” Neve recalled about her fourth grade teacher. “She was always ready to help us. She made it fun. She never gave us a reason not to like school.”
Phillips helped Neve when she needed her the most, when a family emergency occurred. Even though Neve is no longer her student, Phillips still checks in with Neve and asks her how her family is doing.
Before Neve even took a seat in Phillips’ classroom for the first time, the fourth grader was confident that she was going to like her new teacher. Some of Phillips’ former students had tipped Neve off that Phillips was a nice teacher.
Phillips has a theory about why she is generating a positive teaching reputation among East Side students.
“I’m there for the kids 24/7,” The Phenomenal Teacher of the Week revealed. “I think about the kids. I write them notes. I work with them if they ever get stumped. I care about them. I ask them about their weekends or their extracurricular activities. I get to know them as a person, not just as a student.”
Instead of only relying on textbooks, Phillips also incorporates technology and learning aids like songs to help the students “remember the moments” and lessons.
For Phillips, teaching is about making a difference with her students, not just as a fourth or fifth grade students, but as lifelong learners. She feels rewarded when former students tell her how she made an impact on their school careers.
Phillips keeps up with her students long after they have left East Side. She congratulates them on their successes, whether it is getting their driver’s license or an academic achievement.
Her advice to other teachers is to “believe in the kids.”
Phillips believed in Neve even when Neve was almost too nervous to go on the morning announcements to promote her school play in fourth grade. Phillips encouraged Neve and told her she could do it.
“She rocked it! She was amazing on the announcements,” the Phenomenal Friday Teacher recalled about Neve’s first appearance on the school news broadcast.
This year, Neve was back on the morning announcements praising Phillips for being her favorite teacher.
It is important to recognize teachers, according to Neve, because they do so much to help students learn. The fifth grader thinks teachers like Phillips especially appreciate praise from students. Based on Phillips’ reaction to Neve naming her the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week, Neve’s theory may be correct.
“Ms. Phillips was very thankful,” Neve said after the announcement. “She kept hugging me and crying. She was very happy.”
Perhaps the best evidence supporting Neve’s theory comes from the Phenomenal Teacher herself.
“This is the best award I could ever get, past Teacher of the Year, because it comes from the kids and that is what matters to me,” Phillips professed.
Phillips is also grateful for the support from the Cobb County School District and community organizations like Chick-fil-A. Representatives from Chick-fil-A congratulated Phillips with gifts during the Phenomenal Friday celebration. She appreciates it when outside groups recognize all the work she does to boost student success.
“It is hard being a teacher,” Phillips confessed. “We don’t just sit here in the classroom. We take it home. We think about the kids on the weekend. We worry about them, and we love them throughout the day.”
Learn about what makes the other Phenomenal Friday Teachers of the Week stand out at their schools: http://goo.gl/Eg31Wc