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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Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
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Police release photo of hoax bomb

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Henrico school buses with compliance issue to be fixed this summer


The 176 Henrico school buses that have been purchased since March 2011 will be fixed during the summer, Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks told the Citizen. The bus manufacturers will retrofit the buses at no cost to the school division, he said.

The brake interlock device is required on all automatic transmission buses in Virginia that were purchased after March 2011, which is when the device was added to the state Board of Education's requirements for school buses. As many as 4,000 school buses in the state may be affected, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
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May 2017
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The Retail Merchants Association, 5101 Monument Ave., will hold a Member Appreciation Picnic & VRF Auction from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy food, drinks and music. A silent auction will benefit the Virginia Retail Federation’s political action committee. The event is free. For details, visit http://www.retailmerchants.com. Full text

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