Henrico’s Top Teachers – Pete Phillips

After three years at Clemson University, Pete Phillips still wasn’t sure what he should pursue in the way of a career.

He only knew that he wanted to be a “difference maker.”

With time, he arrived at his answer -- by recalling the influence of several stand-out teachers who he said not only knew their subjects, but “had fun at their jobs.”

A product of Henrico County schools (Pinchbeck, Byrd and Godwin), Phillips cited Tom Hoy and Don Trevillian of Godwin among his more memorable teachers and noted that he also enjoyed working with children and schools at the Tuckahoe YMCA.

In addition, he credited a Clemson political science professor, Dr. J. David Woodard, with motivating him to become a lifelong learner.

Today, after almost two decades of teaching at Ward Elementary School, Phillips would most certainly qualify as a difference-maker. What’s more, he has instilled that same desire to serve others in his students.

In nominating Phillips as a Top Teacher, one parent wrote that he “brings out the best in each and every student and does it every day with a smile. . .

“By the end of fifth grade, Mr. Phillips’ students realize that they are important in our society, and have a chance to make a difference in the world that we live in.”

Phillips also encourages a love of reading among his students, said the parent, that helps them throughout the transition to middle school and beyond. Not only does Phillips suggest book titles, but he even lets students borrow his personal copies to read.

For Phillips, the challenges of teaching – from managing paperwork and the growing demands on teacher time, to motivating students and “redirecting” their behavior – are far outweighed by what he calls the constant rewards.

“I love seeing a student master a new concept or improve a character trait,” he said. “I love sharing my insight, and hearing student stories. I still like recess as much as my kids do.

“And there’s nothing better,” he added, “than having a classroom of kids laugh at a joke – and then get back to the lesson!”

Like most long-time teachers, he also enjoys contact from former students and hearing their success stories.

“Just this year,” he said, “I had one former student become a published author; one who received recognition as a master mechanic; and one who got accepted into law school.”

But even his more recent students – those yet to reach high school – can articulate the ways in which Phillips has left his mark.

A mother recalls that when her eighth-grader was filling out applications for specialty centers, he was crushed to learn he could not ask Phillips for a recommendation (which can only come from middle school teachers.)

“Why did you want Mr. Phillips?” the mother asked her disappointed son.

“Because,” the boy replied simply, “he cared about me.”
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Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27


The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

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Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21


Henrico County Police Division and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police are participating in “Tip-A-Cop” to Support the Special Olympics Saturday, Oct. 21.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’


The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook, and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Richmond is seeking participants.

The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity


Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25 to discuss cybersecurity.

Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

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The 25th Annual Math Science Innovation Center Chip In for Education Golf Tournament will be held at The Golf Club at the Highlands, beginning at noon with a shotgun start. The cost is $600 for a foursome or $700 for a foursome plus sponsorship of one hole. Other levels of sponsorship and participation also are available. The event includes a putting contest and boxed lunch. Prizes will be awarded for closest to the pin on two holes; longest drive - men; longest drive - women; straightest drive; and longest putt. The event is sponsored by the Virginia Credit Union and benefits the Math Science Innovation Center in Henrico County. To register, visit https://mymsic.org/index.php/news/golf or call (804) 343-6525. Full text

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