Muldrow High School students will see a familiar face as their new principal this year when longtime teacher Joe Phillips takes over the position.
Phillips, who has been a teacher at Muldrow for 14 years, was named Muldrow Public Schools district teacher of the year for 2011-12. He also served as the school’s baseball coach for five years, was director of transportation for five years and was a full-time bus driver for 12 years, among other roles.
“I wanted to become a teacher so that I could be part of the process of imparting knowledge,” Phillips said. “I believe teachers directly mold the youths of today and assist in creating future leaders.”
“For 13 years I made it my goal not to just give students the answers to problems but to teach them how to find the answers on their own. As a principal I will continue to strive to ensure that learning for children will be an exciting journey. I am devoted to becoming the best principal I can be for our youths.”
“The astronomer Galileo Galilei once said, ‘We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves,’ ” Phillips noted. “The road to discovery begins by starting each day with a smile. It is imperative to show the people around you that you care about them.”
“Students must be motivated to discover their full potential and I believe this starts with maintaining a positive attitude in any situation,” Phillips said. “I once read a quote from an unknown author that said, ‘Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the memories that take our breath away.’ I want those types of memories to relate to my career,” he said.
Phillips graduated from Talihina High School in 1996 and he received an associate degree in arts from Eastern Oklahoma State College in 1998. Phillips earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Northeastern Oklahoma State University in 2000. He returned to Northeastern, where he received a master’s degree in education/school administration in 2010.
Education runs in Phillips’ family. His father is a retired educator from Talihina who was a head football coach for many years. Phillips’ mother, who is semi-retired, served as an elementary school secretary for more than 11 years and has been an assistant special education teacher for the past 25 years.
Phillips said his grandmother was a Head Start teacher at Cookson Hills in Tahlequah for more than 20 years. Phillips said the “family business” also includes his wife, who is starting her 14th year of teaching eighth-grade science at Muldrow, and his brother, a teacher at Kiamichi Vo-Tech in Talihina.
“From a small age my parents ingrained in me the importance and value of education in one's life,” Phillips said. “It's truly one of the only keys to a better life.”
Phillips said Muldrow Schools’ theme for the upcoming year is “Every Student Deserves a Champion,” which he hopes to implement in every aspect of the school district.
“From bus drivers to custodians to teachers and administrators, I would like to see this relationship build for the success of our students. Our district can't obviously provide financial support to the students in their personal life, but we can give them emotional and educational support,” Phillips said. “Before we can focus on test scores or attendance or discipline we have to build rock-solid relationships with our students.”
“We have to show our students that we truly care and believe in them. I believe if we can give them that, then everything else will fall in place.”
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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