Adrienne Phillips: Making an Education Difference

adrienneI’m Adrienne Phillips, content editor for Promethean Planet, and ever since I can remember, I have always been a helper. I spent many, many years trying to convince my parents that every stray dog or cat that roamed the streets needed to come home with us. Clearly, my powers of persuasion were lacking, so I began working at a veterinarian’s office, and my dream was to become a vet.

As a high school senior, I participated in an off-campus independent study program. In the program, I went back to the elementary school that I  had attended to help my former first grade teacher, Mrs. Seidman, who had since moved to teaching kindergarten. Part of my senior year was spent assisting Mrs. Seidman in tackling her classroom to-do lists, helping the little ones with reading or classwork, and creating classroom displays. I didn’t realize then that the teaching seed was being planted in my heart.

I entered college as a pre-veterinary major on a full softball scholarship, but after my first semester, I decided to make a move. I went to my athletic advisor’s office and talked about what I wanted to do with my life. I went looking for direction, and memories of Mrs. Seidman’s incredibly endearing and rewarding kindergarten class helped clarify my purpose. So I did it—took a leap of faith—and became a teacher.

For six years, I taught third and fourth grade math and science. For me, third and fourth graders were the perfect age. They get my sense of humor, they are incredibly independent thinkers, and yet they still possess the desire to please. All my students knew when they walked into my classroom the expectation levels were set high. They treated each other kindly, and with respect, and I in turn did the same. My classroom was a safe place for students to learn, to talk, to share, to try, to fail, and to succeed. It was important for me to let my students know I was human, too. If I was grieving about something, I shared with them. If I was excited about something, I shared with them. We celebrated together and lifted each other up.

After six years, I decided to leave teaching. With the changing of curriculum standards and the emphasis on assessment, I was losing those teachable moments, and I had lost some of my passion. The reason for leaving, then, was never because of my students.

Three and a half years ago, my joy for education and for teaching was reignited when I joined Promethean as a Promethean Planet content editor. That means I get to wake up every morning and do what I love to do—help. It means I get to listen to educators tell me what they need, and I have the power to deliver it to them—well, to the best of my ability. It means I lend a kind ear, and sometimes become a venting post for those who are having a rough day with technology. We all have those days—when computers and the Internet seem to have minds of their own. It means I can’t solve the world’s problems, but I can at least make what means the world to educators and students better. It means I get to be surrounded by people that have the same feelings—nervous butterflies, elation, and pride—when the classroom doors are reopened every new school year. It means I get to be a part of every victory, and every moment of opportunity in classrooms worldwide. In the words of my seven year old, “That’s pretty awesome.”

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